Don’t Take My Texting Hand

January 24, 2011

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?

28 responses to Don’t Take My Texting Hand

  1. Question: what would you give up first; your blog or your wife, Mr. Freud? Think very carefully before you answer, especially if your wife reads your blog!

    My phone makes calls, and I text so I can keep up w/ my teenage boys.
    If they gave up their cell phones, I could easily give up mine. I still have a land line (that’s a phone that plugs into the wall, for those of you who don’t know. Funny story. My son made a call and got a busy signal. He came to me, gave me the phone and said “what’s wrong?”)

    iPod, eh, that can go. I still have c.d.’s & I’m okay w/ that. Truth be told, I still have cassettes. Yes, I’m THAT old.

    Blogs; they’re entertaining, but so is my dog. I’m just saying. And my dog licks my face. I’m just saying.

    T.V.? I only get the channels that come through the electrical outlet. That would be 2 channels. Nothing to give up!

    Facebook? NO, I don’t think so!! I live in a remote little section of the world, and I NEED my facebook to keep me connected to humanity! aka., the friends I had before moving to this tundra.

    Google? Dude, I LOVE my Google! (see last entry)

    I would love to return to the culture where we had our neighbors over for coffee, instead of ‘poking’ them on FB.

    I’m just saying.

  2. i don’t have a tv, so that’s not a problem.

    i could easily give up my mp3 player.

    i could easily give up my pc, which i only really use to watch dvd’s.

    i could easily give up my nokia smartphone.

    i refuse to give up my blackberry. i use if for bible reading (youversion), making and keeping track of my appointments (calendar), music, facebook, twitter, blogs, and all other interweb related things. funny thing is i hardly ever use it for phone calls or texting…

    i live on my blackberry…please don’t ever take that away from me.
    tsholo recently posted..reads of the week – 2011 – 3

  3. I suppose it’s down to the balance: everything in relative moderation is good (everybody has of course different levels of moderation). Balance between stuff and the stuff owning you and your relationships with the real things in life.

    There is a little story I’d like to relate (I heard it second hand so factually it might be inaccurate but the point is quite clear)
    Frank Sinatra was approached by a woman after one of his shows asking for an autograph/photo for her husband who could not be at the concert due to deteriorating health. Frank looked at her, signed the photo but also took off his golden cufflinks and asked the woman to pass that on to her husband as a gift from him. This woman was completely taken aback and said that she cannot accept such an expensive gift and that the autograph and his time was already a gift in itself. Frank replied calmly that if you cannot part with something you own, it owns you.

    That’s why the rich young man was so saddened by Jesus’ answer because something else owned him. Matthew 19:16-22

    I own a lot of things but do they own me?

    But if I’d have to choose: anything that makes/plays music. I would struggle without some form of music.
    kleinfrans recently posted..thought c- say no to religion for a full and happy life

  4. I could easily give up my cell phone–it’s convenient but I managed without it nicely for years and I’d save money if I didn’t have it. Next to go would probably be Twitter. I use it to promote my blog posts and do find good information on it; but I could live without it easily.
    Karen, author of “My Funny Dad, Harry” recently posted..The Cat Nip Mission- Cat Won!

  5. I’ve given up Facebook for the semester so that I will actually get some homework done– but I keep catching myself wondering what people are getting up to without me there to stalk them.

    The mortician will have to bury me with a laptop. :)

    One of my classes this semester is about Cyber rhetoric, & we’ve watched a few YouTube clips of the dystopian future when technology runs our lives and we never leave our houses. I made the comment that it would totally suck to never have contact with humans, or nature, or whatever, and one of my classmates came back that the videos are exaggerated & I don’t have to worry too much… and yet, when people are out and fully capable of immediate contact with nature or other humans, many of them are glued to a screen. Not so far-fetched as it may seem– but I hope you’re right & the novelty will wear off.
    Su recently posted..We Must Do This Right

  6. I could give up my coffee maching since I don’t drink coffee and it do not use it to contact people. But since that is probably not what you were referring to, I could probably give up my cell-phone for a while. This would allow me to be able to eat a meal and talk to may family without any interruptions.
    seekingpastor recently posted..Firmly Rooted–A Poem of Hope

  7. I listened to Sherry Turkle on Dan Rea’s talk show one night on the way home from teaching last week. She made some compelling points.

    Her suggestions were to have no-tech time frames. IE: Dinner time, homework time (unplugged), and bed time. We have always had no-tech meal times at my house. And I shut off my smart phone when the lights go out. We do no-tech date nights and family times too. The 7-year-old has to earn TV or PC time and it’s a max of 1 hour per day.

    My 20-somethings had a fit over the moratoriums. I turned the cable off during the day so they would leave the house on their summer breaks. I almost purchased a cell jammer too.

    I am a nerd rated geek, so I have lots of gadgets.

    I use the computer for most of my hobbies as well as work. From writing/recording music and graphics/photography to writing and social networking; it’s an extension of who I am. I have a smart-phone with Facebook and the web – so there is a lot less time I spend at the big keyboard. I listen to music all day on the iPod, which is a constant companion. (soon to be part of the smart-phone)

    In the end, except for the creative aspect of computing, I could care less about it. The only reason I use the smart-phone, is because most folks are too busy to hang out in real life, which stinks. This trend was already in place – I used to call friends and got voice mail that may or may not have gotten returned. Facebook has actually help in that regard.

    If I could walk a tropical beach with my wife or have dinner with friends, you can have it all – even the blogs and the iPod.

    Until folks start taking time to have relationship again, we’ll be doing Alone Together for a long long time.

  8. Amazing how I can get so defensive about what I “can’t live without” and so self-righteous about the stuff I don’t care about. I haven’t watched TV much in years–we use a computer screen we occasionally plug into the rooftop antenna to get our 5 stations. I have an iPod because someone gave me one, and I find it useful for carrying photo samples and identifying new birds.

    On the other hand, I use my PC for everything. I’m a writer and photographer. I could write with a pen and a pad of paper, but I can’t even see my photos, much less process them, without a computer. I use it to pay bills, keep in touch with my kids, create powerpoints, research articles, etc. While I’m there, I might as well check Facebook. And I need some way to arrange actual face time with friends. We live out of town and no one would just pop by.

    Seems that our use of technology needs to be submitted to the authority of the Holy Spirit, just like everything else.

  9. I’d give up TV because there’s not much good on there anymore except Psych and Fringe. I’d also give up Facebook since I’m hardly on there anyway. I like feeling connected online, but I like that I have a choice NOT to be connected. I put down my smartphone, turn off my computer and just walk away. I don’t want the slave to become the master. Know what I mean?
    katdish recently posted..Choosing my own reality

  10. I’d probably give up texting. It’s so easy to misread a text anyway. Ever try to use sarcasm in a text? I don’t recommend it.

    I don’t know that I would want to give up Facebook. It is a pretty superficial way to interact with people you can easily see and hang out with. But, I have found it useful to reconnect with people I haven’t seen since college or high school (and actually want to reconnect with).

    When I was in college, I didn’t watch TV (although occasionally I’d watch movies on my roommate’s TV), and I only used the computers to write papers and read/send emails. And yet, somehow, I managed to fill each day with meaningful and interesting activities. ; )

    I think all these things can be useful and good, if we don’t just use them to numb ourselves. For example, I like to use Pandora and YouTube to aid me in my electric viola practice. But I probably should start turning off the TV. I’m embarrassed to admit how often it is on (even while I’m on Facebook, Twitter, writing my blog, reading other blogs, etc). Ugh.

  11. They’d have to pry the mouse and keyboard out of my sweaty dead palms from being on the internet.
    Charlie Chang recently posted..256 Monday Minotaurs

  12. I just use the radio or CD’s for most of my music, even though I have a rather substantial collection saved on my laptop.

    I only watch – maybe – a couple of hours of TV each week, and even that bit I am not consistent. Plus, we do not have cable, only locals. I play video games with my wife and roommate. That works out to about an hour a day (meaning some days there is no gaming, some days there are three hours and everywhere in between). My wife and I enjoy watching movies and the occasional Anime together, probably coming to about six hours a week (almost an hour a day, except that it happens every other day and for about two hours at a time).

    I cannot really give up the laptop at the moment since I am a full-time online student. I tried once, and fortunately for me my professors worked with me when I was late getting assignments in because all of the computers I found were either being used or broken. I could live without the internet. I enjoy camping and the like, so I get away relatively frequently.

    My smartphone certainly gets its use. I have Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint), internet access, texting, a 5-megapixel video/photo camera, almost as much storage/processing as my original desktop computer … maybe more processing power, alarm clock, FM radio receiver (listening to the radio on it right now, actually. Better reception than the box plugged into the wall!), digital Bible (just in case something happens to one of the Bibles I carry everywhere), and of course my calendar with everything in it (backed up on the laptop).

    Truth be told, I am rather tech-savvy but prefer to not use it as much. The technology I use the most is the light bulb so that I can read (whether for school – I refuse to download my textbooks, I like the real thing – or for fun/personal growth). My wife and I actually read at least one book a month together (other than the Bible). We just got into “The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica” and found ourselves reading several books a month (the fourth book came out in October; we read all four in the past month).

    Some people think I am always on my laptop or phone, but I then point out that they only see me for a few hours each week. If I was always teched-up, how could I get through all of those books, hang out with various people (including the two young college kids I am discipling), go hiking several times a week (with only a cell phone, switched to vibrate, and only for emergencies), and sleep? Do I use it more than my Pop? Sure, but he watches more TV and movies!
    Daniel M. Klem recently posted..I Love-Hate Religion

  13. I could give it all up except a cell phone (not even a smart phone) and e-mail. I gave up Facebook and twitter for almost a month and I don’t use them nearly as much as I used to when I came back to it.
    Jason recently posted..Day 23- Come down- process and delay

  14. I love technology very much and yes there are a few things that can consume my time more than it should. My one piece of tech I could give up would be the TV. It iritates me when my husand gets home and automatically turns it on. It is as if sitting on the couch is the switch for the Tv to pop on. I do have shows I enjoy, but we are a no special Tv service family, as one person stated, it is whatever comes thru the wall outlet TV, but we do have a few more channels than 2. Even though I have some favorites, I could say no more TV.
    I have to say I am a facebook junkie and I have recently had to set limits. One I can’t open faceook anymore until I have done at least 30 minutes of exercise. I have also quit playing the games as I realized how much time I was wasting. I kinda went through withdrawls, I would sit and stare at the screen wondering what else can I do.
    I do have to say I can never give up facebook though. We are a family who is spread across the country. My mom, husands mom, our silings, nieces, nephews and my own children live in 8+ different states. We stay better connected now in the last 2 years and we get to see what our daily lives are like and interact via pictures and comments. I was horrible at getting pictures printed and mailing them to my mom.I always felt so guilty not sharing more of those with her, Now she gets to interact with all her grandchildren + others and see the birthdays, hanging out with friends, the dances, visits with others,our vacations, the beautiful sunsets, snow covered lawns the new places we move to, we get to share all of that now. Most family members we only see about every 2-3 years so facebook has become a great tool for our family. I have reconnected with cousins that growing up we spent almost every weekend together and until facebook happened, who knows if we would have ever connected again in our lives. Now we are getting to see each others families and share our adventures. Granted I have more than family on facebook, but it is connecting me again with so many. I have made a couple new friends via the games I used to play. We used chat and on a few occassions getting to know one another we spent hours chatting learning about one anothers lives making a connection. Now we pray for one another and feel like close friends all though we have never physically met.
    My online music i couldn’t give up, I don’t own very many cd’s so my online music collection is better and more extensive. Some of that is on my Ipod, and I use that when I need to relax or sitting somewhere bored out of my mind.
    My phone is not a smart phone, but I text all the time. I have a teenage girl still at home who is a very social child. We can communicate where ever she is and the same with my kids in other states. It is a quick form to communicate, ask questions, send a I am thinking of you/love you on days you know they are having a rough one because Facebook told me soo. I also text to see if it is ok, if i can call them. I never know if they are at work or classes or hanging out with friends, so I get the ok, before I call.
    I like the quick communication. I am happy I live in this era because I struggle with loneliness and not sure how I would cope without it. I agree some need to learn some manors in pulic and I have on many occassions asked my daughter to turn hers off so she can focus and not be rude insome enviroments, even drilled her on saftey factors. Even with all the negatives having these devices can create, I am happy to have them for all the positives they have brought.
    Lisa recently posted..What is my GPS

  15. I’d give up TV which is moot because I never watch it anyway and pretty scary since it’s my bread and butter. Don’t take my smartphone, though. Between my Bible, calendar, Evernote, Dropbox, bar code scanner, Google (my love language), and GPS, I’d be literally lost without my phone. That would be a big suitcase to carry around if I didn’t have my phone.

    So glad you won’t give up your blog. I read it on my phone.
    Candy recently posted..Functional Foodie- Noname Soup

  16. Hi Matt,

    On Friday afternoon, January 7th, my computer went out and my son, a network manager geek, could not get around to fixing it (by rewiring half our house) until yesterday.

    I have been deprived!

    Since we have no working tv to watch football on I was forced to live the primitive lifestyle of a food gatherer… So far this month I have actually read 14 books.

    There’s something horribly wrong with my life!

    How can God love people who have no Internet?

    • Ha! I don’t know. I think lack of internet is akin to biblical famines and droughts. It’s surely God’s judgement! Speaking of being a food gatherer, I have discovered the satisfaction of gardening in the last few years. I like to think it balances my life, makes me a little more Amish.

  17. Sometimes I look around and become weirded out by how dependent we all are on technology. I’d have the hardest time giving up my laptop; actually, I don’t think my current life would be possible without using computers! It’s the nature of the beast.

    Having kids on internet and cellphones so young bothers me though. I’m starting to hear now that kids are having their first exposure to porn at age 5. That is just one example of how we need to put some kind of limits on tech for it to remain beneficial to our society.
    Paul Bishop recently posted..Who is the worm

  18. Of all the things you mentioned, the only ones things I don’t think I could give up are my laptop or my new iPhone 3G. My laptop has Skype, which is really wonderful when our extended family is 1800 miles away from us. It also has Word, which is God’s blessing for the random thinkers like me. I like being able to Google an answer to a really important information, like, “How many films did John Carpenter and Kurt Russell collaborate on? (this is where you reply ‘Who’s Kurt Russel?’and I would answer ‘Google him’}” I like using Google for recipes and general information. My phone has Google Maps, which is God’s blessing for the orientationally-challenged, like me. It also is useful for making phone calls in remote places or to let someone know while you are driving that you will be late because of traffic/kids/procrastination.

    I had to give up Facebook because it was interfering in my family life. I don’t really miss its intrusion in my life, though I do feel culturally irrevelant and slightly out of touch. However, the real friends are those who call you or stop by to see you, right?
    Tandeming Troll recently posted..Dealing with Cultural Irrevelance

  19. I don’t have a smartphone. Does that mean I have a dumbphone?
    I’m just sayin…

  20. I would give up television first, since I do not really watch it. And my blog and twitter are in a dead heat for the last thing to go. We have started cutting stuff out here. Twice a week we keep offline and invest in other interests.
    Jason recently posted..Inception

  21. While I’m not a catholic, I was interested to see that the Pope recently encouraged Christians to embrace social networking but gave warnings about being present for superficial relationships online while not being present for those closest to us.
    Rodney Olsen recently posted..The Pope and Facebook

  22. OK for me.. I don;t own an iPod or MP3 player, I do own a smartphone which stores all my music and I use that all the time, I also use the phone for facebook, twitter, e-mail catching up on the news and a hundred and 1 other things but almost never for making/receiving phonecalls, texts yes occasionally but not regularly.
    I use a laptop and as this is mainly for work purpoases I would struggle to part with it though I would be happier to part with that than my phone! House phone, yes thats technology, would easily do away with that except that its not very easy to have broadband without a home phone and I live in the sticks a bit so NEED my broadband connection to allow me to access the stuff I NEED to access on my phone.
    Someone said coffee machine, well I could give that up, I dont own one,a s long as you left my kettle and cafetiere alone, touch them and you are likelly to die! Seriously DIE!
    But with Social Media I have found it a great way of keeping up with friends, both those I see regularly and those I had lost touch with, and also to make new friends, just dont let your kids knows how many friends I have meet irl that I only got to know through social media of some sort or another! We have found it to be a brilliant way of connecting with other parents of children with disabilities, people who are, by the very nature of it, isolated and cut off, so being able to meet all be it virtually and encourage each other as well as get to meet IRL socially with those who share the same issues and struggles as we do is such a positive experience.
    So… Take Twitter if you must, thats my more casual acquaintances, take my lapto as I have a desktop at the office and if I have my smartphone I can cope with just that. the 2 must haves, my phone (which dubles as so much more inc. a mp3 player) and Facebook, which is a crucial means of communicating with and keeping in touch with friends at a much deeper level than would otherwise be possible, for me Facebook has enhanced, and in soem cases increased, my real life interactions with people not reduced them!

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