I’m Crap At Social Media

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I love Social Media.  I think it’s one of the coolest benefits of living in the 21st century.  It’s as if the Internet has given us a gigantic cocktail party.  Unfortunately, I’m crap at it.  The problem is, for the life of me, I don’t understand how it works.  Yeah, yeah, yeah!  I know the techno-gabble that keeps it together – you post, I post, somebody else posted, we all click “like” or “share” or some such other thing and walk away happy – but after that, I’m lost.  And I truly believe that’s why I’ve never actually been invited to the party.

First of all, I’m old enough to remember pen and paper.  This is a major disadvantage.  Back in the day, when you had something to say, you had to stop, take a minute, think about it, and then take pen in hand.  This forced even the stupidest among us to try and present a comprehensive idea and back it up with a cohesive argument.  Social Media is a lot faster than that.  So, as a consequence, I’m just not intellectually prepared to take a Facebook meme, an Instagram photo or a 140 character treatise on the evils of supply-side economics all that seriously.

Secondly, there’s just so damn much of it.  Social Media is everywhere – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Reddit, Pinterest – God Almighty!  It never ends.  The sheer volume of relentless information is overwhelming.  No wonder people are wandering around the streets like zombies, thumb-numbing their telephones.  Personally, I don’t have enough hours or energy to sort through the Cute Cat Videos, the angry Trump Tweets and recipes for pan-fried kale to get to the good stuff – forget respond.

And finally, I’m not absolutely certain I want to spend a lot of time chasing Social Media.  I’m all for sharing ideas and discussing them ad infinitum.  (I’m usually the last man standing at real cocktail parties.)  However, for my money, people who think what they had for lunch (or where they had it) is noteworthy, need to reread their Copernicus.  Most of the trivia of everyday existence is – uh – trivial, and recording it across Cyberspace doesn’t give it any extra significance.

It’s not Social Media’s fault I can’t figure it out.  The fact is, in human years, Social Media is still a teenager, and we all know what an emotional and intellectual game of hopscotch that is.  So, for the time being, go in peace, Social Media.  Maybe, in a few years, I’ll be a little smarter and you’ll be a little older — and then you and I can have an adult conversation.

Facebook Sucks … Kinda/Maybe

OMG, the sky is falling!  Citizens, run for your lives!  SAVE YOURSELVES!

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This moment of panic was brought to you by Mark Zuckerberg and the good folks down at Facebook.  Apparently, those fun-loving scamps in Menlo Park, CA have been slackin’ off in the I’ve-Got-Your-Back department and allowed another company, Cambridge Analytica, to harvest personal data from a bunch of unsuspecting Facebook users.  Actually, “a bunch” is a bit of an understatement; the real numbers are north of 50 million.  Wow!  This is a serious no-no, and I have the feeling “my bad!” isn’t going to cover it.  (Although it looks like Zuckerberg is giving it the good ol’ Harvard try.)

I’ll grant you that this sordid bit of business looks remarkably like some faceless corporate somebody is peeking in the bedroom window, but let’s not get all lynch mob crazy just yet.  There are a few things we have to consider.

One — Unless you’ve been living on one of the moons of Uranus for the last 30 years, you know that the Internet is kinda like Santa Claus:
It sees you when you’re sleeping
It knows when you’re awake
It knows if you’ve been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!
Cyberspace is not a vacuum, and every computer click that happens there is going somewhere.  Only children and the hopelessly uniformed believe the Internet is a private party.

Two — The people who are suddenly swimming in a sea of indignation over their invaded private parts are the same ones who’ve been posting their lives away on social media.  Honestly, if you’re telling the entire world everything about yourself — from your college Beer Pong championship to what you had for lunch at Olive Garden — you don’t have a lot of room to complain.  There’s such a thing as due diligence.

Three — Right now, Facebook might be the Big Bogeyman (Bogeyperson?) but they’re not the only ones collecting your private information.  Literally everything, in the 21st century, is selling you out to Cyberspace — from your Smart phone and its GPS tracker to that Rewards Card in your wallet that offers up your buying habits every time you swipe it.  At any given moment, some Internet minion somewhere can probably pull up a profile and tell you what size underwear you’re wearing and where and when you bought it.

But finally — So what?  Like it or not, we all know privacy has always been a movable feast.  Anybody who grew up in a small town will tell you that.  Personally, I’m not too pleased my preference in intimate apparel is getting harvested by 1,001 data management companies across the world, but my alternatives are limited.  I can a) sit around and bitch about it or b) pull the plug on my digital world and walk away.

So far, I’m not prepared to do either one.

What You Miss When You’re Cyber-blind

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I have a friend who is cyber-blind.  He doesn’t have a computer; he doesn’t have a tablet; he doesn’t have a cell phone.  In fact, he barely has cable TV (and no PVR!)  But he isn’t one of those pompous asses who’s constantly reminding the world that he lives on a higher plane of consciousness because he’s transcended technology.  No, he’s just a regular guy.  And as he tells it, “I missed the beginning of the digital revolution, and now the learning curve is too steep for me to catch up.”  He’s perfectly content, BTW, but the obvious question is: how does he function, on a daily basis, in a world that can’t go to the toilet without tweeting the results?

Here are just a few things my friend is missing:

1,612 Instagram Photos of Food — One of the requirements of an Instagram account is that you must eat at least 9 meals a day.  And I’m certain nobody under 30 knows what hot food tastes like because, by the time they’ve produced the photographic evidence, it’s cold.

16,120 Useless Email Messages — Aside from being cursed at birth, there is no earthly reason why my email account overflows every couple of days and I have to spend at least a half an hour, cleaning up the crap.  Who the hell even uses email anymore?

161,204 YouTube Videos — You start off, in the early evening, clicking on a 3-minute video about how to stuff a Cornish Hen and end up — somewhere south of midnight — watching “Best Of Drunk Girl Fails 2014,” posted by a Ukrainian named Nemski.  Don’t deny it!  You’ve done it, too!

1,612,047 Facebook Homilies — What is it about Facebook that attracts idiot clichés?  Facebook could be one of the greatest forums for intelligent discussion in history, but what do we get?  Cute kitten memes that tell us to “Value your friends, cuz true friendship is purrfect!”

16,120,479 Twitter Trolls — I don’t care how you slice the pie, Twitter is Lord of the Flies with Wifi!  It’s as if Jack the Ripper’s evil twin built a digital playground for all his nasty little friends and then turned them loose on the world.

But the very worst thing in the digital universe is:

161 Passwords — Every time you turn around in cyberspace, you need a new password.  I’m absolutely convinced that Websites demand that these weirdo afflictions have at least 8 characters, 2 prime numbers, 1 capital, 1 lower case, 3 symbols, an emoji, a hieroglyphic, a quadratic equation, a Greek letter, a Cyrillic letter and the first three letters of your great-aunt’s maiden name because they want to see just how obedient we are to our computer overlords!