Charlie's Blog: SOC 16


SOC 16

Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.

I think this will be the time I am finally successful at quitting Twitter. I deleted my account, and I felt the positive change almost immediately. To reinforce my decision, I have been Googling info on why quitting social media is a good idea. This NYT piece and this TED talk have been the best things I have found and make me glad I cut out my Twitter addiction. Social media is truly the equivalent of an internet slot machine where you are drained of time and attention instead of cash.

I find myself with more time and attention span now. I am reluctant to admit how much time I spent on Twitter, but it was not insignificant. My spur for quitting this time was the envy I felt for people who eschew things like smartphones and social media. I already reject the smartphone, but I felt like a hypocrite. I was like the Baptist who never drank beer but would take bong hits in secret.

Smartphones and social media go together like cigarettes and Bic lighters. I might have been using an old fashioned Zippo instead of a Bic, but I was still smoking the same stuff as everyone else. The flip phone is no complete escape from social media. I would tweet and read tweers from my flip phone.

How do you stay informed without social media? Basically, I use three tools. The first is old fashioned email. I try to keep the inflow to a tolerable level by not subscribing to many newsletters. The second tool is Google News which gives me the headlines of the day and the opportunity to dig deeper on anything I find interesting. Finally, there is Feedly which delivers the specific items I care to follow. That's it. Those three tools are all I need.

One of the weird things I noticed since quitting Twitter is that I actually read more. My counts in Feedly have been steadily going down while I seem to be enjoying what I read more. The other thing I have noticed is that I have more time to write for the C-blog. All that stuff you hear about focus vs. distraction is true. Twitter is an engine of distraction. I like that term for social media--ENGINES OF DISTRACTION.

Smartphones are the equivalent of a social media crack pipe. Facebook is the number one app for smartphones, and it is the thing most likely taking the attention of the driver ahead of you risking life and limb to update their status. As a flip phone user, I don't have these distractions, and it makes me a much safer driver.

Naturally, I have to deal with the Luddite thing. Compared to an Amish guy, I am very much a technophile. I love electricity. I love my computer. I love my cellphone. But somewhere, the world went to crap with Facebook and the iPhone. The issue isn't about being a technophile or a Luddite. The real issue is about how people use the internet and interact with it.

I tend be a reader. As such, I would rather read a book than watch a movie. This carries over to my web habits. I'd rather read the news and informative articles from real writers than peruse status updates from Cousin Alice, the cat hoarder. I would rather write posts for my blog than spew endless tweets all day. Basically, I'd rather have a sit down dinner with a knife and fork than a drive thru dinner from McDonald's. To say that makes me a food hater is grossly incorrect.

Facebook is the number one engine of distraction which I liken to one of those weird toys people hang in their kids' cribs to keep them amused. They look like this:

Spend some time on Facebook, and you will see that you are turning knobs, spinning wheels, and ringing bells just like some slobbering infant making a poop in his diaper. It is very annoying to an adult but totally addicting to this nation of infants. Do you protest this characterization? I've got one word for you--FARMVILLE!

If Facebook is an internet romper room, then Twitter is the cafeteria at an elementary school with its endless stream of chatter and that one kid blowing bubbles in his milk through a straw connected to his left nostril.

As for other social media, Instagram is just Facebook without words like the kindergarten at the elementary school. Linked In is a pretend social network for grown ups but no one uses it sort of like the library at the elementary school.

The sad reality is that social media dumbed down the internet for the rest of society. While grown ups write articles and read them and code HTML, social media allows illiterate people to play along with the grown ups sort of like the steering wheel on the child safety seat.

This may seem like a harsh assessment of things, but I think I am more charitable than the smartphone people who call me Luddite and dinosaur because I don't have the latest toy. Basically, the paleontology references come out when you insist on living like a grown up.

When you are a grown up, you care more about tools than toys. Email is a tool. Facebook is a toy. The same goes for phones. My flip phone is a tool. Your smartphone is a toy. Does this sting and burn? Then consider how much you PLAY on the damn thing. I witness this all day--people playing on devices. This never happened with the Crackberry. And witness the most juvenile of communication forms--the EMOJI!

Our communications are now reduced to this childish hieroglyphic crap. It is unreal how immature our society and culture has become.

I like being a grown up. This is why I like having my flip phone or sending an email. This is also why the Jethro Gibbs character has a flip phone on NCIS. That guy is a Marine and a grown up. A guy like that is not going to use a smartphone and play Candy Crush on it.

The fact is that I have seen people in their seventies with smartphones and people in their twenties on flip phones. But generally speaking, the people with flip phones were mature while the people with smartphones were immature and not very smart.

Smartphones do have some useful functions for grown ups. You can check your email and browse the web. These were the things you could do with the Blackberry which was definitely a phone for grown ups. It is sad that Blackberry gave over to the kids and have virtually abandoned making smartphones for grown ups. They should have played up the professional angle and persisted with it. Instead, they joined the toy market and lost. Dumb.