Tag Archives: social media

Don’t Blink

If it seems like things are moving pretty fast these days, you’re not imagining it. At a conference the other day several people were talking about some technical improvement, and one of the participants piped up, “Well, back in the day…” The thing is, he was talking about three years ago, not 1940.

In certain circles these days, it’s expected that each individual must have complete access to all of their friends, music, videos, and the knowledge base that is the internet at all times. Thinking about going to a record store to buy an album, bringing it home, and playing it on the stereo has the sense of the Stone Age about it. By comparison, now it takes seconds to download a song and listen to it, and then share it with a friend. It can be any song from virtually any era. Listening to Gregorian Chants on an Ipod may seem like a paradox, and I guess maybe it is.

Some groups of people seem to be obsessed with being connected. Most are younger, but some folks well into adulthood are losing their fingerprints due to the wear and tear of constant texting. I know people who are frequently short on sleep as they try to keep up with Tweets, Facebook posts and texts. They wake up with a phone between their faces and their pillows. That can’t be good, can it?

It would be befitting of a person my age to launch into a diatribe about the fast pace of technological progress, but I won’t do it. I remember my own parents rolling their eyes at The Beatles and transistor radios and the like. Technology happens, and things that are proven useful tend to survive, and other things fade away.

Not many people carry pagers, for example. And fax machines are an endangered species, soon joining typewriters on museum shelves with dial phones and 45’s.

Common sense (an oxymoron) should play some role as we embrace evolving technology, but it often doesn’t. Video or computer games are fine for those who like them. Playing them at the expense of hygiene and social interactions is probably not well advised. And, the benefits of reading or experiencing the non-virtual world can’t be overstated.

I guess that’s the main thing that’s on my mind. The appeal of these new technologies is great, but our ability to use them appropriately is something we haven’t yet learned. If being completely connected and in touch all the time becomes an obsession, well, it’s an obsession, which implies an unhealthy state of mind.

I expect that at some point more and more people will withdraw from some of the technology excesses. Already some people are leaving Facebook, and I’d bet that Twitter will someday be the answer to a trivia question. But, who knows?

Television isn’t new, but it was a revolutionary invention. There are many things I wouldn’t now know if it hadn’t been for TV, but I wonder how many things I don’t know because of it. Re-runs of Hogan’s Heroes may be mildly entertaining, but reading a book about World War II would be more edifying, and unless the war was more amusing than I think it was, more accurate.

I, for one, won’t become a slave to technology. In fact, as soon as I save this document to a folder and attach it to an email and send it, I’m going to defrag my hard drive so I can update my media files more efficiently. And if there’s time, I might go outside.


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Filed under 2012

Social Media Mediocre

Some changes happen slowly, like losing one’s hair, trees growing, or children getting toilet trained.  Other changes happen fast – so fast that we have a hard time adjusting to them.  Weather can change that fast, as can the price of gold, stocks, and Beany Babies.

The last ten years has spawned an immense change in our lives, even if we haven’t participated.  That change is in the form of the electronification, if that’s even a word, of communication.

Ten years ago the term “social media” may have existed, but only among a fairly small group of people.  “Myspace.com” and “facebook.com” existed, but were both in the very early stages of acceptance.  Blogging – in essence, electronic newsletters—were coming into vogue.  Websites that gather news from many sources, like drudgereport.com, started in the mid 1990’s, but really took off during the Monica Lewinski scandal, which was first exposed by Matt Drudge.

Now, newspapers, magazines, and even radio and TV stations are putting a lot of resources into on-line identities.  Books are becoming a fading commodity as the Kindle and other forms of electronic publishing surge forward.  The closing of Borders bookstores is the most recent evidence of that change.

The social media, starting with myspace.com, facebook.com, and then twitter.com  seem to have shoved a lot of other media to the side.  The timeframe for dissemination of news and information – factual or not – has gone from days to hours to minutes to seconds, as tweeters send messages while news happens.

Thanks to Facebook, I get a little reminder every day about my “friends’” birthdays.  If someone is my real-life
friend, I should know their birthday – though I probably don’t, because I’m a guy.  Wishing a virtual friend happy
birthday seems disingenuous.  Although, it was nice last December when so many people sent those wishes to me.

To be honest, I am feeling left behind by a lot of this.  I don’t have a “smart” phone or an I-pad, and the thought of adding that technology to my electronic arsenal seems daunting.  I have a Twitter account, but wonder who cares about what I write, or how it could possibly matter.

I feel like an old man in 1910, shaking my fist at those darn automobiles, or shunning the telephone.  I’m sitting here in 2011 hearing myself use strange phrases like, “Would you like to Skype?”

I’m not a Luddite, but I wait with both enthusiasm and trepidation for whatever is coming next, and what the next thing is that will go away.

If you find out, send me an email, okay?

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Filed under 2011

Social Mediocrity

Ten years ago, a twitter was, as Dictionary.com says, “a succession of tremulous sounds.”  Now Twitter is a social media tool used by millions to communicate things that, somehow, we all lived without hearing up until now.  Ten years ago a face book would be a book with faces in it.  Now it is a means for people to keep up with each other’s lives from our computer or iphone screens.  My space used to be where we’d go to be alone.  Now, Myspace is a social media platform.

People have really embraced these forms of communication.  A few months ago we were talking to an adult friend who casually mentioned that our daughter was worried she’d miss her plane that morning.  How did she know?  Facebook.

I have a Twitter account.  Honestly, it’s like pulling teeth to get me to use it.  I have so many other things to occupy my time that I’m not sure what benefit it gives me to tell people, in 140 characters or less, what’ I’m doing throughout the day.  And, I’m even less sure what benefit other people would get from hearing about my lunch, the nice walk I took, or how bad my migraine is.

Last Friday I signed up for Facebook.  It was easy to do, and while it asks for more information than I wanted to give, you can choose not to divulge everything.  I know quite a few people who are “on” Facebook, and they mostly responded favorably to my request that they “friend” me.  People share comments, photos, and even videos with their friends, and it is admittedly interesting.

I don’t know much, yet, about how it works, or all the ramifications of sharing too much on Facebook.  For example, there are surely things I’d be happy to share with friend friends, that I’d be reluctant to share with professional friends. 

I was thinking that some new social media outlets might be needed.  Couples could communicate using “Myspouse.”  Ridiculous stories could be told on “Farcebook.”  Railroad engineers could communicate on “Tooter.”  Or, maybe not.

There are those who say that our fascination with communicating by electronic devices has had a negative effect on our time spent communicating in person.  A text message is much less personal than a phone call, for example.  I wonder if a bigger issue might be that tweeters, Facebook devotees, and Myspacers end up spending more time with the devices than with people, nature, books, or their own thoughts.  But, I’m not worried that social networking and social media are a danger to society.  There are worse habits to have.

I see that the world has changed, and while I don’t want to be left behind, I’m not sure I want to come along either.  Figuring out what has real value in life is really a life-long pursuit.  And, I guess each of us has to decide that on our own.

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Filed under 2010