Is social media making us stupid? It might be hard to tell.
Over the weekend, I read this article, basically saying that social media and smart phones are wrecking our kids. We pretty much don’t know how to function in public any more. People need to be told to turn off their phones in movies because it just wouldn’t occur to them otherwise. People check their smartphones at funerals. Kids think that “sexting” is actually foreplay. For all that social media has promised to “connect” us, we’re more disconnected than ever.
I saw another story about a family that went on a tech fast for six months. No TV, internet, cell phones. Nothing.
Of course, a six month fast from important things like Facebook sounds crazy. But the family, undoubtedly now a lonely band of social pariahs, said it was a good thing. One of the children took up his saxaphone again and sold his gaming console. The family played games together, primitive things which involved boards and small wooden chips, rather than texting at the dinner table.
Of course, I didn’t have a cell phone until I was in college, and it didn’t text. But it made me think about just much we’ve poisoned ourselves with technology…and not just with all that radiation…
Social Networking Made Stupid
Remember what blogs looked like ten years ago? Right, no one does, except the people who wrote them, because no one was reading blogs. They were just the online journals of lonely teens brooding from their parents’ basements. Now look at blogs. They’re a (somewhat) legit form of media. They came of age.
When I was in college, I couldn’t get on Facebook because my college wasn’t on Facebook’s list. The site was intended to be for college students exclusively. When that opened up, everyone wanted in. Right now, Facebook, social media, and smart phones are coming of age. People are still in a slobbering frenzy over these cool new toys. Teens are acting like chimps, constantly mesmerized by their phones. Eventually, the novelty will wear off, and people will realize that not everything you can do with social media is a great idea. Things like posting pics of your new fifty inch TV, complete with geotags, telling everyone where they can find and steal your new fifty inch TV…or stealing someone’s fifty inch TV, then tweeting about it, complete with geotags, and getting arrested.
Don’t Take My Texting Hand
I think eventually, people will even begin to go on voluntary tech fasts, and pare down their everyday use of social media to humanly reasonable levels. Perpetually paranoid pundit Glenn Beck has made a point to not have any sort of screen based tech in his home or bomb shelter. Of course, you don’t have to be that crazy to give up texting for a week.
I thought about all the tech in my house, and what I’d give up first, if I were in some sort of horrible place where tyrants were chopping up handheld devices, and what I’d hang onto to the bitter end.
iPod Yep. I’d give up the music first. I actually don’t even own an iPod. I bought one for my wife. So I guess it’s kind of a cop-out to give up my wife’s iPod first. I just don’t have a compulstion to drown out my brilliant and hilarious internal monologue by blasting my eardrums with indie rock. Besides, my LP collection is much more enjoyable.
Smart Phone I’d give this up, because I still don’t have one. My phone makes calls, and calculates the tip I leave for a nice Italian dinner, and not much more. My wife and I went to the Apple store to play with the iPads. She may want a smart phone after giggling in delight at “Angry Birds.”
Facebook, Twitter They’re nice to have. But I don’t play Farmville. I use Facebook to invite friends to parties and spy on people I don’t want to run into at the high school reunion.
TV Next on the chopping block, I’d give up television. Again, kind of a cop-out, since I can get any TV show I want on my laptop. I guess I’d be giving up gaming, unless I could get my wife to act out the game while I played it. Yeah, that could work…
Google, and everything in it I don’t know how people learned stuff before Google. I have a problem at home, like something’s broken, or my wife is mad, and I type my exact problem into Google, and like a magical wizard, it solves my problem. That’d be pretty hard to give up.
Blogs I think blogging would honestly be the last thing I would give up at this point. It’s become my life…I almost typed “wife” there. Freudian slip, huh? Well, it’s still a small part of my life, but a meaningful small part.
I don’t think there’s any question we’re on tech overload. If technology were food, we’d all be obese…er…never mind. What would you give up? If you had to give up one thing, turn it off forever, or at least the next several months, what would you choose? What piece of tech is the mortician going to have to pry out of your dead, lifeless fingers?