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Beheadings, now on Youtube Vol 51

October 2, 2014

If you know the 7 dwarves of menopause, you must be a Boomer ! ( answer below )

I hate social media. As a Boomer with adult kids, I have been exposed to many of the various forms of social sharing, and its close cousin, the 24/7 instant news feed, while resisting the urge to participate. I understand the need for speed in all the things we do, and do not complain about the increased efficiency of the world, whether its in business, science, or even cooking faster. Our standard of living today is based on being more productive, and I only hope that the gains we have made in our wealth continue onward and upward.

Really, it is interesting to see our kids try to multi-task, or think they are multi-tasking, when all the latest studies show that the human brain can not multi-task. The brain actually chops up the work into bits, so when you think you are doing lots of jobs at once, like driving and texting, what you are actually doing is processing bits of each job serially, meaning that the processing does not overlap in the brain – the jobs are apportioned brainpower in bits. Using my example, you focus on driving for a few seconds, then you focus on texting for a few seconds, driving, texting, and so on. The brain switches between jobs at speed, allowing us to think we are multi-tasking, when we are really just doing one job at a time. Granted, our gadgets are set up to allow this, what with increased safety systems in cars, like lane switching warnings, and with texting, with autocorrect features that fix your spelling after an errant keystroke.

No, I just find the social media universe to be dangerous. Take the privacy issue, for example. These days, everything you ever posted, even if it just to your loved ones, can be hacked and published. All those nude pictures of movie stars being exposed on the internet stolen from Apple’s storage devices is an invasion of privacy. Why people take these pictures in the first place is crazy, but posting them is the height of stupidity. Think of Eric Snowdon and the Wikileaks stories, and can anyone not see the danger to their privacy ?

Consider the political implications of the net. Even ISIS, in showing the beheadings of the captives, used social media to whip up a reaction. ISIS is considered by many commentators to have mastered social media, to use platforms like YouTube to do recruiting videos, publish their manifestos, and rile their enemies with the torture uploads. Their propaganda should be restricted, but it can’t. All we are doing is giving their movement more oxygen and status that it deserves. Closing down their access would assist us in defeating their cause.

What about education ? New studies show that kids in school text all the time. Are they really learning when they do that ? Can they cheat easier ? I love the fact that we have technology in the classroom, but like our driving example above, there have to be limits. One idea is for the wireless companies to use their GPS functions on smartphones to disable the phone use within a school building. Students would have to go outside the classroom to phone or text. I suppose one could only disable certain features like texting and data, but allow talk, if there is a safety concern. This restrict idea is now taking hold for drivers who text, with the phone companies being asked to disable phones that are moving over a certain speed. Again, you could pull over and use your phone if the need arose, but this would stop a behaviour that is dangerous to society.

Personally, I have nothing against social media. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and all the rest of them have a utility and a value. My issue is how they are changing our social landscape. For example, many of us spend time commuting, and having a device for keeping up with the world during this wasted time is productive. Booking time with friends, sending out birthday greetings, checking out your BFF’s latest blog post is fun, I am sure, when there is nothing else to do, except wait. Texting during dinner, while driving, or while walking are examples of rude or dangerous behaviour that need to be curtailed. Personally, I hate to see people on their devices all the time. Its like the ability and opportunity to have a conversation is lost. Maybe its me, but I was taught that if you are talking to someone and your phone beeps, you ignore it until such time as your real social interaction is finished. To break off and answer the phone is rude to the person in front of you, acknowledging an unknown call as more valuable than the person and your conversation. Don’t we have voicemail for that ?

I am not saying we should all be Luddites, or that we should stagnate socially, so let me separate out the functions that help our society from the useless ones ! Most of the business functions of our web use tools that make us more productive and do change our behaviour. Search engines assist us by making us more knowledgeable, allowing access to information that was not easily available years ago. Facebook and Skype can help us stay in touch with friends and family who are distant. Apps that store pictures keep memories alive. Probably my personal favourite game changer is Amazon and the other shopping on-line apps that allow us to do stuff from home, saving on actually having to physically drive, park, and shop for everything. These apps will change the business landscape, our shopping habits, and our need for cars long-term. Think of all the wasted money we have invested in cars parked at shopping malls, the wasted gas, the unneeded highways, lights, and real estate, all being superseded by on-line shopping. In future, maybe malls will just be for seniors to get their exercise in walking clubs !

Am I showing my age when I do not use Facebook, or Twitter ? I write a blog, and have been told, by Google and the blog host, that using social media would increase my readership. Well, screw that. Keeping my sanity is more important to me than a few readers. Perhaps I will just go see the play by the South Park writers, the Book of Mormon, to get my social fix – na, I will probably await the download instead.

( Answer is Itchy, bitchy, sweaty, sleepy, bloated, forgetful, and psycho )

Next on Boomers – WTF !, Why we may actually need ISIS !

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