Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Golden Age of Modern Civilization



There comes a time in everyone's life when they look back to their youth or to some time in the past and reminisce. We tell ourselves that it was better back in those days. We sigh, wishing that we were there at that golden time which is forever gone. For me those days were the days before cellular (mobile) phones became mainstream. Before the internet took complete hold, and before the words 'online social network' were ever spoken.  The Golden Age of Modern Civilization.

Those days are forever gone. I remember life not always being great back then, but I do remember going outside and walking down the street and not being almost plowed over by some oblivious 'soulless' texter. I remember going on a bus ride without everyone glued to a small rectangular device. I remember going to a restaurant and people talking to each other. Imagine, going out with someone and your date not having to stop to check who texted him. Imagine not having to be glued to a social network site when you are at the park? Those thoughts will be completely alien to some.  To others they are brilliant and glorious thoughts.  Where oh where have those days gone?

The reality is, I must learn to accept the fact that I will never again see that time. The modern world is a world obsessed with cellular phones and social networking. A world in which you can not get on the subway without having over 3/4 the riders eyes on their private screen.



To some people this may come as a shock: the United States is not the only country obsessed with cellular phones! For example, India has more cellar phones than toilets[1]  And, no, that does not mean they go to the bathroom on their cell phones there.  According to the article published by NPR, " India's rapid economic growth — and its long-standing poverty — are also reflected in the census. More than half of all Indian households now have cellphones, but fewer than half have toilets." While this can, in theory, be looked at as a good thing, the reality is, the dynamic of cellular phones being introduced to the poorest segments of the population may not be a boon. Cellular phones are addictive. Much time spent on cellular phones is spent on social networking sites (this is where Facebook starts to rear its ugly little head). In fact, according to my page views, India is the third most represented country that looks at this site. Facebook is huge in India, and so is technology. The dynamic of Facebook and cellular phones may turn out to be far different in India than it did in the United States (and it's a disaster here - a real travesty). It is hard to say how this will play out in the future, but it goes to show that the Facebook addiction is not only confined to the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe. No, it is truly an international epidemic. World War III may take place on Facebook. 

In 2007, Nokia's henchmen took a trip to India in order to entrench their cell phones into the Indian subcontinent. The objective: to get the rural farmers to purchase cellular phones. According to the highly renowned and ultra-respected New York Times, "'The object is to establish the concept of phones, and the need for phones,' said Suresh Sundaram, Nokia's national retail marketing manager in India, who was in Mundawar on Friday with the van."[2]

This article is now five years old. Many of those farmers may have buried their beloved phones. Others probably kept them. Some may have given up farming and now Facebook for a living. Other farmers may have seen their crops die as they spent their days ignoring them while instead playing Farmville.

The world is inundated with cell phones and social networking. It is harrowing -- terrifying to think of how fast things have progressed in the past decade. When I graduated from high school in 2000, I got my first cell phone. The screen was not in the full vivid color as you see on phones today, in fact, the screen was in  green and black. I could surf a very rudimentary internet which had a few web pages. There was no such thing as MySpace, Facebook, I Can Haz Cheezburger, etc. (Rotten.com was huge however). Ebay was sparkling new as was Amazon.com. Blogging was a word I had never heard spoken. I remember my ceullar plan was limited to a couple hundred minutes a month and was expensive.  Now you can get a cell phone subsidized by the U.S. government[3]. The reality is, cell phone technology is much cheaper than it ever has been before. Ten years ago I would have never imagined Uncle Sam paying for cell phones.  Now if you don't have a cell phone in the US you are ridiculed -- a pariah.

Much of the world now has access to cell phones and cellular technology (which I think is a good thing, it's great that people can have similar access to things). However, the reality is, Facebook and the hateful and spiteful Twitter have entrenched themselves into society. Their devious ways and their foaming lips usurp anyone and everyone into their pacifying and life-stagnating clutches. The poor segments of our population do a disservice to themselves by becoming addicted to Facebook, Twitter, and their ilk. Such social networking only causes stagnation and strife.  How does one climb out of poverty when their life is spent on updating their status and reading an epicly long 140 character tweet?

                       

Yes, the days of my youth are long gone. I am the grumpy old man who sits outside the deli on a bench and tries to grab at young kids, reaching and cursing as he clenches towards a fancy sparkling iPhone or Droid phone. I am the angry man who cusses under his breath because his whole family has DISOWNED him for Facebook. Because his OWN MOTHER HAS THREE FACEBOOK ACCOUNTS THAT HE KNOWS OF (and possibly many, many more that he doesn't know of).  I am sick and tired of going into a restaurant and having to hear the word Facebook, Twitter, or hear the sounds of a prepubescent child text in a mad frenzy. I am the angry old man who secretly wishes the days of the past would come back. But he knows that they won't, and it drives him just a little more mad each and every day.

When the government subsidizes Facebook and the crops die as farmers instead play Farmville, the world is in trouble. DOWN WITH FACEBOOK. DOWN WITH TWITTER. DOWN WITH SOCIAL NETWORKING!!!!!

Sources:
[1]http://www.npr.org/2012/04/08/150133880/indias-census-lots-of-cellphones-too-few-toilets
[2] http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/06/technology/06iht-wireless07.1.5582419.html
[3] https://www.safelinkwireless.com/Safelink/

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sherry Turkle: Connected, but alone?



This is a powerful video that really sums up my way of thinking about social networking in general.  I recommend everyone to take a look at it and reflect on the ideas presented here. 

Denial = Addiction


My wife recently left Facebook.  I never really told her she should, as she only logged in a few times a year.  However, she realized that when she did log in she found little use for the site.  Having given it up was something I was proud of her for doing.  Now I can say my home is truly "Facebook Free™".  However, she recently called her family and asked if they had seen my site, they said, "I don't need to, I am not addicted.  I only log in once a day."  However, I think denial is part of addiction, and I think that logging in even once a day is excessive.

This particular family member sees Facebook as many do.  As a way to keep in touch and see what is going on in the lives of family.  However, this alone creates an addiction.  It's a vacuum that sucks you in.  You can not leave, because, in your mind, if you leave, you are saying, "I am leaving my family.  I don't care what they are doing."  Further, Facebook tells you when you leave that those people will "miss you" as if they actually will go through the longing and sadness that people go through when they leave home to go to college or head back home from a vacation.  Facebook seems to forget that the internet allows people to keep in touch with each other in many different ways.  In fact, most people have a cell phone and a home phone which allows people to call almost anyone at any time.  For some reason, a person feels like they are a part of another's life if they see every minuscule thing they post, even if it is political nonsense or information on who has diarrhea.



I don't think this is healthy.  I don't think logging into Facebook even once a day is beneficial for a person.  I don't think that having to be connected to other people all the time and share aspects of your life in order to validate yourself as a person is healthy.  You should not have to validate yourself to others.  You are who you are, and you should be happy about that.  People seem to enjoy Facebook to "keep tabs" on other people.  However, it is not healthy to obsess over the lives of others while your life stagnates.  Many people on Facebook will brag about their lives and their accomplishments, but in reality, they are accomplishing little by being on Facebook.

I propose that if you are logging into Facebook regularly, on a schedule, such as once a day, 3 times a week, once a week, etc., then you are addicted.  If you feel the need to validate why you are on Facebook, then you are addicted.  In fact, when asked if he/she had even looked at the site, they said "no, I don't need to detox.  I am not addicted."  They were not asked if they were addicted.  Nobody brought up an addiction.  One can not hope to grow if they don't look at contrary information from time to time.  Ignoring the fact that Facebook has negative connotations shows signs of addiction.  It is like the ostrich, hiding its head in the sand, refusing to look at the world.  When your world is Facebook, there is a problem.

I recently posted how I believed that Facebook showed the classic signs of being an addiction.   The more I see people obsess over the site and refuse to look away, the more I feel that this site is not only an addiction but an epidemic.  I believe that anyone who has to view Facebook even just once a day and refuses to look at information contrary to Facebook as beneficial has an addiction

Thursday, April 19, 2012

"This is just a phase"

There is no doubt that some people close to you will talk about your recent departure from Facebook.   Family members may think that your exodus from the big daddy of (a)social networking is "just a phase".  They may think that you will be back.  Will you?  That is the question that only you can decide.

Oftentimes the moves we make in life are looked on with close scrutiny by family and friends.  The closer you are to someone the closer the scrutiny.  When you hit that deactivate button and see that list of people who will "miss you", you may realize that they are not just "missing you", but that they are breathing down your neck saying "you need to come back to Facebook."

Is there something wrong with them?

Sometimes people think that when someone else does something that they deeply down inside know that they should do, they often get defensive.  A lot of times when I am eating healthy and go back to visit family, they take offense to me not sinking my teeth into that chocolate pie that they are all sharing.  Sometimes making a choice like this can be seen as threatening.  People might say "it's just a phase" so that they can put that threat aside in their mind -- at least for a little while.

However, you need to show them that you made a real choice.  Not just a short term departure.  You have left Facebook for good.  You have realized that (a)social media has no place whatsoever in your life.  You have seen the real results in your life and you are happier now than you ever have been with Facebook.  You have let go, and it was tough.  No doubt you craved seeing what Uncle Tom was doing with that brand new Cocker Spaniel.  Wasn't Lester dating that cougar down the block?  Don't you wonder how that turned out?  The whole family not only was talking about it at the picnic after church, but they were also posting derogatory comments about her birthmark!  Don't you want to be a part of that?!

Yet, at the same time, you are catching up on the hobbies and goals that you left behind while you were addicted to that blue box of gossip.  You are moving forward with your life, doing better in school, at work, and keeping the house in better shape.  Your pets are being interacted with.  Your spouse is happier because you are spending time with him/her.  Your kids don't always see you huffin' when you see what that in-law that you didn't like much recently did.  In fact, you might have actually played with your children or called your aunt in Omaha!  The effects of this are boosting your self-esteem.  You feel better than ever, and it's showing -- you're glowing!  You realize that you are thinking less and less about Facebook.  You spend more time at the park and going outside.  You may have brought out that dusty bicycle and are amazed you still know how to ride it!  You might have looked in the mirror after your most recent shower to realize you really did lose a couple of pounds!  Congratulations.

Yes, others may think that this is just a phase.  They may hope it is.  Sometimes when a person does well for themselves people get jealous.  On Facebook, people try to show that they are doing well, when in reality, many are stagnating.  If you are typing how great you are doing, chances are you are not doing anything.  You can only do something when you are not glued to (a)social networking.  Once you show people that this is not just a phase, their perception of you may start to change.  They may realize that you have the mental strength that few possess that allows you to back off that which 'everyone else' is doing.  In fact, they may even be a bit jealous.

However, at the same time they may think you are arrogant and pompous for not being on Facebook.  Perhaps they think that you think you are better than them.  However, this is a contradiction in thought, as people on Facebook tend to brag about their accomplishments and spend time 'advertising' their life and thoughts to the world.  You are not doing that.  Instead, you are making moves to actually make your life better.  You are moving towards real results, and instead of sharing them to the world, you are capitalizing on them.  Yes, this is often seen as threatening, but you will only be happier as you reach for your own dreams.  Leaving Facebook is just the first step.  You will find it is amazingly easier to live a fuller and richer life once you've let go to an addiction that honestly has taken the entire world by storm.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

What are you? Stupid?

This is what I asked myself this morning when I thought about going to Facebook.  Even after being away from that site for about a month, the villain still pursues me.  Facebook, my readers, is a serious addiction and one that is incredibly hard to fight.  There is no denying it.  It is, in every sense of the word, an addiction.

Wikipedia states: 
Addiction may be defined as the continued use of a mood altering substance or behavior despite adverse consequences.  Alternatively, it may be defined as a neurological impairment leading to such behaviors.
Facebook is definitely a 'mood altering substance' and has intense adverse consequences.  Wasted productivity.  Wasted time.  Wasted youth.  Wasted health and well being.  Entering into arguments, competition that leads to few if any 'rewards'.

What would happen if I went back to Facebook?  Well, first, I would revert to my old self and my old ways.  I would have to start over again, that is, if the gravitational pull of Facebook was not too strong to keep me from pulling away again.    I fear that if I ever do go back, I may never again be able to leave, and that scares me.  In fact, it chills me to the bone.

When an alcoholic goes for a drink of whiskey after a few months sober, does he have a hard time giving it up again?  What about a vegan who reaches for a slice of cheese after six months of abstaining?   It can not be denied that Facebook is an addiction, and if it was not, people would easily be able to walk away.

Yet people ARE NOT easily able to walk away from Facebook.  They make countless excuses to stay on that site, often times feeding themselves lies such as "I could leave, but don't see a point.  It's good to be here.  Everyone else who I know is here."  Some may even say or think that there is something wrong with you if you are not on Facebook.  Well, perhaps we have an epidemic on our hands then, don't we?

To the few people out there who never jumped on the bandwagon.  Don't!  It is not worth it.  There are other ways to contact friends and be a part of society.  Other ways that are actually beneficial.  Why restrict your social life to a computer?  Why enter into a world of arguing and bickering on the internet?  Why become obsessed with checking what people are doing?  Do you really need to share with the world that your new child has a dirty diaper?  I imagine the pull of Facebook is INCREDIBLY strong for new parents (more on this in a future post).

Addiction often has a low effect and a high effect.  Facebook is no different.  For example, the high effect on Facebook are the 'strokes' a person receives when they post something funny or interesting.  A snide comment can get you the 'likes' of many friends and family.  In fact, it could be argued that the 'like' feature is merely a mechanism to create addiction.  Notice how there is no dislike feature?  Pictures posted and shared of a vacation to a remote paradise become the envy of those who you were always uber-competitive with.   Yet another high is the pride of creating something, such as a profile, and making it distinctively yours.  The self-expression of making who you are known through that profile, and showing that to the world is again another.  If you are shy or feel invisible, perhaps the idea of people noticing you is too much to resist.  I was always a shy individual and was once thrilled that people were able to see all of my accomplishments in life.  Indeed these were the highs of Facebook. 

The lows are extreme.  Realizing that you spent a whole day on Facebook.  Being fired for spending too much time on it.  A post that was too controversial and started a 'Facebook War'.  Realizing that your grades and relationship are suffering because of Facebook.  An illicit relationship brought to you by not just a predisposition to cheat on your spouse/significant other, but through the ease of doing so on a site that is a vehicle for easy infidelity.  Not spending time with your family and children who are all around you, and instead being glued to a screen hoping that your friends will notice your latest status update.  The shame you feel when you post something embarrassing.  The feeling of being ignored when you post something and nobody notices it.  The jealousy of other people doing the things you worked so hard to do, such as buying a house or getting a great job or even going on a vacation to somewhere you have always dreamed of.

As with any addiction there is also a withdrawal stage.  You may find yourself angry, irritable, with intense cravings to go back (I feel these, and no doubt you will feel this as well), and possibly sadness.  You may think that you somehow left your friends behind.  You may think that the rest of the world is having fun except for you.  They are not though.  Some of them are fighting and arguing amongst themselves.  Many of them are spending inordinate amounts of hours glued to the site while producing little of value for society.  It will be you that is enjoying your life.  It will be you who is growing as an individual, and being able to foster real relationships that involve more than a short message. 

Facebook is, in no doubt, an addiction.  To call it anything else is kidding yourself.  I won't be going back today.  Like any addiction, I must take this one a day at a time.  For each hour you find yourself not on that site, congratulate yourself.  It is hard to let go.  It's hard to take the initial first step and deactivate it.  Facebook has made it easy to return, and the creators made it to be addicting.  After all, it would not be worth billions of dollars if it was not (some say that Facebook is worth over $100 billion, although that is questionable).

Make yourself a spreadsheet or take a notebook or journal and keep track of the day you left Facebook and what you have done since leaving.  Every once in a while look back and see how long you went.  Feel proud!  You will notice that the longer you are away the more you will have accomplished.  If you feel the urge to rejoin the site, look back at the notebook.  Keep it close to your computer as a reminder of what you have done.  This is a greater accomplishment than anything you ever did while on Facebook.  Take each minute at a time.  Each day tell yourself you made it a day and you can make it another day.  You don't need Facebook.  I promise you that.  You are so much better without it.  It is an addiction that has taken the world by storm in mere years.  It's going to take serious time for people to leave it, but like many other fads, it won't be around forever.  When it's gone people will look back to the time they wasted on it, and you can say "I did so much while everyone else was pacified."

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Don't let Facebook DESTROY YOUR MARRIAGE.


If you are married, considering getting married, or dating, or even being involved in a relationship, you may ask: is Facebook worth the risk to the relationship?  You may be surprised to learn that the (a)social media king is having a detrimental effect on relationships. 

I have outlined a few articles below that talk in more detail about the risks that are involved with Facebook in the matrimonial context.  In fact, I know first hand of individuals who have broken up due to social networking sites.  One of which actually caught her husband with a 'secret' MySpace account courting young women mere months after he was married! 

The temptation on these sites is real.  Think about it.  They allow flirting and romantic behavior with little immediate consequence.  It is easy to hide an illicit relationship from your spouse or partner.  In fact, since people generally only share the positive and attractive aspects about themselves and their lives, the people on Facebook may seem more desirable than even those you see daily in real life.

Pictures on Facebook can easily be doctored.  Images distorted.  Anyone can claim anything.  A person can claim that he/she is far more successful than he/she actually is.  Perhaps he/she claims to have graduated from a fine university when in reality he/she took one class there?  A person can claim to possess skills and experience that they don't fully possess.  And with (a)social media, people are craving social interaction, and it is lacking.  In fact, while people have hundreds of friends on Facebook and similar sites, the reality is that they may not be very social in the real world.  Is having a hundred acquaintances better than having a few real close friends?  Most people would agree that being in a close relationship with someone is far superior than an online relationship with someone you barely know, or who you think you know. 

It is sad how many marriages end in divorce.  Statistics claim that half of marriages end in divorce.  While these numbers may be slightly skewed for various reasons, the reality is that at least some if not many of those divorces are a proximate cause of cheating on Facebook. 

The urge to pursue an illicit relationship on Facebook is real.  The urge is only natural.  However, I ask you to purge the urge.  Shut down your Facebook and try a week or two without it.  See if your life changes.  Can you do it?  Can you get rid of the temptation for a week?  If you can't leave, or if you are flirting with someone behind your spouse's/partner's back, I implore you to at least try.  If Facebook is more important than the vows you gave on your wedding day, or the desire you once felt toward that person who you thought you wanted to be with, then that truly is an injustice.  Is an (a)social networking site worth a destroyed family life.  Do you have children or a life that you worked years for?  If so, then the call is more dire.  There is NOTHING to lose by leaving Facebook, only MUCH to gain.  In the following days I will be going deeper into the subject of Facebook and marriage/relationships.  I will be outlining some of the articles below and discussing them in more detail. 

If you have a relationship that was destroyed due to Facebook or other (a)social networking sites, please leave a comment, or share your story.  There are many people who are interested in reading. 
  1. ^ Divorce cases get the Facebook factor. - MEN Media. Published January 19, 2011. Retrieved 13 March, 2012.
  2. ^ Facebook's Other Top Trend of 2009: Divorce - Networkworld. Published December 22, 2009. Retrieved 13 March, 2012.
  3. ^ "Facebook to Blame for Divorce Boom". Fox News. April 12, 2010.
  4. ^ Facebook is divorce lawyers' new best friend - MSNBC. Published 28 June, 2010. Retrieved 13 March, 2012.
  5. ^ "Facebook flirting triggers divorces". The Times Of India. January 1, 2012

Sunday, April 8, 2012

How do you deal with a family SUCKED IN by the beast?



I suppose it could be worse.  Both of my sisters as well as my father do not have a Facebook account.  However, being bestowed with a barrage of in-law siblings who all use Facebook is enough to make a person go quite mad.  When a person is thinking about leaving Facebook and other similar atrocities, how does one go about it when family is breathing down their necks, talking about Facebook at every turn.  Examples:

"Aunt Martha posted pictures of her twin Chihuahuas on Facebook.  Did you see them?  Oh, that's right.  You deleted your account.  That's too bad, because they are really handsome dogs."

"I was wondering if you ever thought about joining back on Facebook and posting pictures of your trip down to Florida.  We are all dying to see what Tallahassee was like."

"Gramma Bessie isn't getting any younger, and since you left Facebook you kind of left her to die.  Just sayin'"
(I could see this said by a certain individual that I have the pleasure of knowing.)

"Everyone else is on Facebook.  What makes you so special as to not have an account?  You know, you were always a bit asocial as a kid, and I can see some things just never change."

"Your cousin, Mark Tate-Reynolds IV just got on Facebook!  Imagine that.  He was always such a clutz with computers.  A real techno-putz.  And now he signed up.  It's not much, but it's sure nice to see him on Facebook."

"I can't believe your sister tagged me in that hideous picture!  She knows I don't like that one.  She better not put it on Pinterest!"

"Dad wrote a beautiful piece for uncle Rodney's funeral.  I tweeted it.  Do you have Twitter?"

I don't live near my family.  I live in New York while they all live on the west coast.  Therefore, it seems that it would be important for me to have some kind of link-up to an (a)social networking site, doesn't it?  Further, I have not have the pleasure of meeting and mingling with them for two years now, which would make it seem almost dire that I log on Facebook right now and tell them about what is going on, right?  And since it is Easter, how can I just sit here, Facebookless while they all share happy images of bunnies and holiday quotes while I am alone with my spouse outside the loop?  Am I missing out?  Should I run to rejoin Facebook right this moment, log in, and promise I will never leave them all again?  I think not.

First of all, I want to make this point to everyone who happens reads this who also happens to be in a similar situation.  A situation in which most of the family is obsessive with (a)social networking but you are not.  A situation in which phone and in-person conversations with family invariably always gravitate towards the dark subject of (a)social networking.

What should you say when your family mentions the beast.  Does a simple "that's nice" suffice?  Or should you say something else, something along the lines of "I don't know.  I left that site a while back.  Remember?" Or maybe something like, "you know how I feel about that site"?  Because, chances are, even if you left Facebook, your family is not going to see it how you see it.  Remember: Facebook is an addiction.  It is not "just a way to keep in touch with family members".  That is what family (and everyone else) wants you to think so you go back.  They may even think that by you going back to Facebook it validates their choice to be there.  Once you leave they start to think, perhaps subconsciously, that their choice is not the best choice.  Maybe Facebook isn't what it's cracked up to be?  Maybe they are spending too much time going to Facebook.  Maybe the first thing they do in the morning and the last thing they do at night is Facebook?  Maybe some of them can't help but check their status when the light is red, or when standing in line, or even when walking down the street, oblivious and bumping into people passing by.

This summer I will be going back to my family, a well meaning group of individuals.  They, like almost every family in this country, use Facebook.  They will undoubtedly mention it in passing.  "I wish you were back on Facebook."  "Facebook is a lot more quiet without you" (which is probably true, I was very vocal on that site.  Some people actually said that I was the biggest reason that they stayed on the site.  I left shortly after.  I sincerely hope they did too).  I will perhaps point them to this blog.  Will they read it?  I hope so. It's a bit longer than 140 characters in length, and I hope that fact doesn't deter them.  There's no use of the text-speak  that is becoming the norm on Facebook and throughout our once proud (and somewhat dying) language:  ur, y, 2morrow, l8r, etc.

I think the answer, when dealing with family who keeps pestering you about going back to Facebook, is to be firm.  Tell them that you are not going back.  Tell them that you have made up your mind:  "Facebook is just not right for me."  You could tell them that you feel that "Facebook is not right for [them], either."  However, that might be too much.  You must remember, many people are having a lot of fun on that site.  The fun doesn't last forever though.  Most families eventually bring their real life rivalries and arguments onto Facebook, and perhaps at this time you may tell them that it may be time to let go.  I have seen a couple families wage war on Facebook, and I have seen hints that a Facebook war may be brewing with other individuals who I know.  Once a Facebook war emerges, Facebook is not as fun, and the taint arises.  Perhaps then mention: "Facebook may not be right for you, either."

Try to not be holier than thou when you say it.  I imagine that most people who have left Facebook and who look at others who are addicted to it can not help but feel superior.  I sometimes wonder if, maybe, just maybe, those who do not use Facebook could be a tad smarter than those who do?  I will not draw any conclusions, though, as I do not know of any study that has been done that would suggest so one way or the other.  However, I imagine there is a type of intelligence that goes with not being sucked in by something so addictive.  Even if you are intelligent enough to get out of the black hole known as Facebook, others may not be.  Others may see you as stupid for not wanting to be there.  Intelligence is often seen as relative.  The debate is out there regarding if it is or isn't.

Stay strong.  Ignore the urge to join or go back to Facebook.  If your family wants to foster a relationship with you, then tell them that such a relationship must occur outside of the boundaries of Facebook.  If they say it would be easier to converse on Facebook, tell them that you want to converse outside of it, and you have made up your mind on the issue.  You have, after all, made a valid choice.  If members of your family stop talking to you as much as they did on Facebook that is not your fault, but a reflection of them.  I must say that I have not noticed a difference with close family members (parents, spouses parents, and siblings) but I have noticed a difference in communication with others.  Chances are, people you went to high school with and those who you met in that child psychology class are not going to keep in touch with you after you leave.  That is just how it is.  Be firm.  Show that you did not leave them behind, you left the medium behind.  Share with them your life.  How much you have done since being away from Facebook.  Sure, you won't be posting pictures of that trip to the Maldives on Facebook, but you can share pictures via e-mail and make a phone call to talk about it.  An intimate one to one call.  Imagine that?  A call that doesn't involve over 300 people, some of whom you never even met, all commenting and trying to outdo each other.  However, I bet you that your relationship with that person who you are on the phone with will be better than it ever would have been solely through a 140 word comment.

Is your family obsessed with Facebook while you are not?  Or perhaps you don't see the harm in it?  Share your thoughts by commenting.  

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Pinterest? No thanks, not pinterested.

You may have heard of the website, Pinterest.  It's now taking the world by storm!

From Wikipedia.org:

Pinterest is a pinboard-style [a]social photo sharing website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests, hobbies and more. Users can browse other pinboards for inspiration, 're-pin' images to their own collections and or 'like' photos. Pinterest's mission is to “connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting" via a global platform of inspiration and idea sharing. Pinterest allows its users to share 'pins' on both Twitter and Facebook, which allows users to share and interact with a broad community.
Of course, like Facebook and Twitter (the devil), I will not be using Pinterest.  Why not?  I find that partaking of my hobbies in real life is better than 'showing off' what I did to the rest of the world.  Furthermore, I don't see the point in “connect[ing] [to] everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting." 

When I used Facebook, a few months back, almost half of my friends were raving about Pinterest.  I went and looked at it and could not help but wonder: "what's the point of this site?"  Some tried to explain it to me.  "It's just the greatest thing ever!" I was told.  But I wasn't swayed.  In fact, it was part of what made me decide to leave Facebook in the first place.

The time is nigh to consider leaving this (a)social media behind.  The time is nigh to realize that what you create does not have to be thrust onto the computer for the rest of the world to see.  When I traveled, I used to think "I bet these pictures will look so good on Facebook."  Such thinking was a disease.  Now I think "I will have these pictures as a memory for me and my family to enjoy."  There is no need to do everything thinking "I hope the world likes that which I do."  There is no need to try incessantly to impress the rest of the world.  Sites like Pinterest, Twitter (the devil), Facebook, MySpace, etc. try to make one live a transparent life in which one hopes to validate themselves to anyone and everyone elseThey create frictionThey create dependence on the perception of others.  Only by leaving Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and the rest behind can one truly become independent.  I find it hard to believe that anyone who goes on Facebook more than once per day can say "I am not addicted."  One has to wake up to the reality that Facebook is addicting and has negative consequences.  Lost time with the loved ones who are next to you.  Lost time with a spouse or pet.  Lost time with your own children.  Is it worth that?  Don't give me the excuse that you use Facebook to communicate with your family and friends who live far away.  If that is the case, you can pick up a phone and talk to them one to one.  Facebook and Twitter have both reduced the world to mental sludge.  One hundred and forty character tweets leave little to nothing of real intelligent discourse.  These sites fail at what people think they are doing.  They are not social networking sites.  They are ASOCIAL and even ANTISOCIAL in almost every regard.  Purge Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest from your life.  Awake to a world of infinite possibilities.  Possibilities that the pacifiers known as (a)social networking are taking away from you.

Not swayed by Pinterest's iron grip that is taking hold on Facebook, the travesty of our generation?  Leave a comment below.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Why I will not go to Google+ (Google Plus).

Oftentimes my ears are burdened by the noise of people talking about other, non-Facebook, (a)social networking sites.  One of the more recent abominations is known as Google+.  When it was brand new, people were talking about leaving Facebook and using Google+ in its place.  As if Google+ was automatically somehow the new 'cool' thing and Facebook was not.  As if Google+ was some new different wonderland of excitement never seen before on the internet.  As if being on Google+ made you a better human being.

Well, Google+ never really took hold the way that Facebook has -- and it won't.  Many thought that G+ would be the more 'adult' version of Facebook, which was thought to be the more adult version of MySpace.  But, you see, Facebook has become the norm now (like the Qwerty keyboard and the Windows computing platform -- both also highly flawed), and with the time and effort that people have put into their connections there, they are not likely to leave any time soon.

I admit it: I tried Google+.  I did not see the point.  I will not go to Google+ for one main reason.  It's the same 'asocial networking' as Facebook is.  Why leave one thing (vice) for another?  That's like saying, "I am going to give up crack-cocaine for crystal meth."  They both (drugs and (a)social networking sites) are awful harmful mind destroying vehicles.  They are unhealthy obsessions that should be purged.  Neither Google+ nor Facebook have pros that outweigh the cons. 

Why is it that we, as people, feel the need to be connected all the time?  Why do we feel the want to have our lives be completely transparent?  Should there not be any privacy in our lives anymore?  Should one be forced to share everything with everyone else?  Should one have to know everything about all their friends?  Is that which is shared on the internet truly representative of the person behind the screen?  Why then, I ask, should one leave Facebook only to join Google+?

What is it with our society today that a thought should be reduced to 140 characters?  What is it with our society that makes it so that we should not develop deeper thoughts face to face with our friends instead of via text messages, the ultra-vile Twitter (also known as The Devil), and other such crutches?  What makes it so that we feel compelled to grab our phone or bolt to the internet when we see a status update?  Do you really need to know which one of your friends is at Wal-Mart?  Do you really need to share with the world that you are comfy in a blanket? 

I will admit that it was fun for a while.  But, after a while it became a 'pacifier' -- something that pacifies one from partaking in the real pursuits of life.  If one took a step back at the time they spent on Facebook or 'tweeting' and looked at the productive things they could have done instead, they may feel astonished.  I know I have wasted way too many hours on Facebook (luckily I never understood the point to Twitter and never really used it - 140 characters reduces the world to mental sludge).

I will not be going to Google+.  I will not trade one vice for another.  Facebook is a vice.  Google+ is a vice.  End of story.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Why I began using Facebook

It was through my college newspaper that I first read about Facebook.  It mentioned Facebook, stating that if you had not heard of Facebook you probably lived in a cave.   At the time I must have lived in a cave, because I had never heard of Facebook yet.  I was also curious.  What was this "Facebook"?  At that time one had to have a university e-mail account to sign up for it.  I did not know many people at college, but I figured, "what the heck, I'll give it a shot." 

I set up an account and made a profile.  Since I did not know many people, I did not do much with it.  In fact, I let it sit idle for about a year not going back until people started leaving the big internet site of the time, Myspace, for it. 

Myspace.  Ah, the memories.  I had some of the similar issues that I have with Facebook with Myspace.  I thought it was poorly designed, full of glitches, and somewhat juvenile.  However, at one time it was, like Facebook, seen as a way for people and friends to 'stay in touch'.  It was for that very reason that I kept an account active there.  My sisters and some of my wife's sister's were on there, and even though there was a lot of drama at times, it was a good way to express myself through the blog feature that they had, as well as the ability to post pictures.  I am proud to say I never posted the classic "beer in hand, shirt off, at the beach" picture that has always, in my mind, remained the Myspace classic picture.

However, it was when Facebook started allowing anyone with a pulse to join, that I noticed an exodus from Myspace.  Facebook, unlike Myspace, really appealed to the older generations.  My grandmother, aunts, uncles, parents -- people who did not use Myspace -- were making accounts.  It was then I went back to Facebook and edited my account, taking the time to show the world and my family exactly who I was -- or who I thought I was.  Or maybe it was who I wanted to be.  I shared with family and friends my visits to Thailand, Europe, Mexico, shared my fiction writings, my philosophical beliefs, my educational attainments, and everything that I could come up with.  However, at the same time, I was sick of sharing who I was through a website instead of through 'real life' and for that reason I took a step back and started to question Facebook as a social networking site. 

When I started law school I deactivated Facebook.  I wanted to excel in law school, and I knew that in order to do so I would have to remove all distractions.  I had just moved across the country and had mixed feelings on leaving San Francisco, a place I had loved.  I remember people in law school all exchanging Facebook information during orientation.  Even I was asked by the person who sat next to me if I had a Facebook.  I said no, and she said she did not use it much either, nor did she add anyone from the school.  I thought it was nice that someone else did not find much use for it.  However, I also felt a bit left out of the loop, but realized it was for the attainment of knowledge that I was in school, not to be a 'social animal' on Facebook (later I will expand on why Facebook is not really a social networking site, but more of an 'asocial networking' site). 

As my first year of law school passed, I found many people on their computers, on Facebook.  Instead of posting what I hated and liked about law school, or about how I was going to go to (insert place) for spring break, I studied.  Oh, how I studied!  Over the course of a year I thought some about Facebook, but knew that if I went back I would miss out on having high grades.  So I ignored it, and felt proud of the fact that I could turn my face from Facebook so to speak.

After my first year of law school I found myself transferring schools and moving to New York, a dream of mine.  I reactivated Facebook, as I was out of school for the summer and thought no harm, no foul.  Well, this was a mistake.  You see, I started to get involved in the old dramas that popped up.  I found myself smack dab in the middle of political arguments.  Occupy Wall Street was the big thing, and Facebook was livid with posts and reflections about it.  One of my best friends from high school was obsessed with Occupy Wall Street, and I was questioning the validity of the movement.  We went back and forth and I started to focus on that kind of thing instead of my preparing for school (and at this time law school was starting up again).  I fought back and forth about the politics and economics of finance and corporations until I got fed up and said I was done with it.  However, reading about it continued to annoy me.  I continued to follow the posts of family, in laws, and other friends.  I continued trying to validate myself as a person, which was something they were all trying to do as well.    At the end of the first semester of my second year I noticed my grades were not nearly as high as they were during my first year, and I realized that part of that was because I was glued to Facebook instead of studying.

So, as the next semester of law school started up I said, "enough is enough!"  I deactivated it for a short while and started to notice that I was more engaged with my work and actually really enjoying it.  I went a couple weeks without Facebook and felt proud.  Then I activated it again out of curiosity.  I felt the want to share that I left Facebook on Facebook!  I wanted to show everyone why I left!  Big mistake.  I felt so dirty for being there that I deactivated it again within an hour.  I have not been back since.  It is truly like a drug, and I emplore you to give it up.  If you want to leave bad enough you can.  Once you do, you will notice a change in your life.  A change for the better.

I wonder if many of my friends even know that I left.  I am sure some probably think I am still there, but being quiet.  Well, the truth is, I am gone and loving it!  Leaving Facebook might have been the biggest accomplishment I have made this year.  It has spurred many more accomplishments and I just want to say not being on Facebook has opened my eyes and made me see that there is so much more to the world than a site where people try to validate themselves to the world.