There are days when I wish Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Reddit, Instagram and their cohorts would just disappear. I am totally inundated with access to everything and everyone all the time. While I choose to have accounts on several of those platforms, what started as a “Hmm, wonder what this is all about?” has become a “Wait, I didn’t refresh my feed!” and a “Oooh, let me tweet this real fast,” situation of embarrassing proportions. Well, actually my ability to tweet is laughable, I’m so bad and inconsistent with it. I blow by 140 characters way before I have even gotten to the point of the tweet. I’m better with long form than short, but I digress.
I’m in my mid-thirties, so I remember a time (hold on, let me get in my rocking chair and adjust my cardigan), when in order to use the Internet, no one could be on the phone. And God forbid they picked up the phone while you were doing whatever it was on the World Wide Web — good-bye connection, back to dial up.
Ugh, it was so slow that the real reason why I wrote any of my college papers the minute I got home on break it took the entire break to get the information! Now, you flip open your laptop and bingo! Instant access.
I read this article the other day that talked about how the prevalence of smartphones and other handheld devices is destroying the use of the Internet. Think about it. Pre-smart phone, when you wanted to know something, anything, you had to go to the computer and look it up. Google is now a verb as a result. Imagine if you watched “Purple Rain” and wanted to know if Apollonia really did jump into Lake Minnetonka, chances are, no one knew. You’d have to wait until some reference materials were available to you. Maybe you asked several people between the initial curiosity and the time it takes you to actually find out and guess what? They didn’t know either. Maybe you see someone wearing a Purple Rain t-shirt and you ask them, “Hey, did she really jump into that lake?” and they’re like, “Dude, I got this shirt at a yard sale.” Maybe you just didn’t know until it was the answer on Final Jeopardy one night.
She really did jump into the lake, by the way. I looked it up.
All I’m saying is that now, you could be at work or at home or anywhere in between and when your synapses fire in a such a way that you must know the who won the 4th Season of Dancing With the Stars, you don’t have to wait. You can look it up and be smarter (or not) for having gotten the answer. If there was a record of the random queries I pose to Siri, I would need the floor to open up and just swallow me (no, I’m not going to give you an example. Suffice it to say a lot of them involve grammar, cartoons, and bodily functions).
Why is it that when my daughters ask me to define words, explain photosynthesis and list the Bill of Rights, I come up short? I know these things, but I can’t explain them. I can define words by using context clues, but my 6 year old doesn’t know what context clues are. I’d have to define that first. When the girls have questions that need straight-up textbook answers, I’m always like, “Hmm, let’s go look that up,” and we open the laptop. I kind of miss the encyclopedia and other desk references known as books. I definitely felt pangs of nostalgia last week when M had an assignment to memorize the Psalm 23 for religion class and was instructed to look at YouTube videos for additional resources.
I need to break up with my devices. I’ve got a MacBook, an iPhone and an iPad. I carry them around with me, sometimes all three, usually just the iPhone though. It has become an extension of my arm. I have gone into straight Amber Alert panic when I can’t find the phone, and while I know I’m not the only one who has busted a U-turn to go home and the phone when it’s been noticed that it’s missing, that makes me sad. I read this article talking about the grossest items in your house and the phone and iPad were right up there because people take them into the bathroom. Go ahead and make the connection. . . .I’ll wait. . . Yeah. Bathroom germies on your hands, on your touch screens, some of which you hold up to your face. Blerg! And yet, I caught myself — yeah I do it, too.
Have you ever heard the term FOMO? Fear of Missing Out? Yikes! And yet, I’m doing it. I’m firing up Instagram and Twitter and all the apps! I’m giving in to the FOMO! I actually participated in the live tweet session for Scandal last week and ended up having to watch the episode again because I was so busy reading tweets! I’ve talked before about how I wonder if we do things for the pleasure of doing them or for the satisfaction that comes with receiving “likes” and notifications when we post status reports and photos of those very activities. I’m guilty of it, too. The pervasiveness of social media, apps, the Internet! I love it and I hate it! I have carried my iPad around the house with me while I did various things. I frequently get on Tumblr and Pinterest for fashion ideas, recipes and crafts when I could just open a magazine, a cookbook, or my own arts and craps bucket. I’m in a love/hate relationship with Facebook. I gave it up for Lent last year. I gave it up prior to Lent this year just because I needed a break. I check into Facebook maybe once or twice a day. I have my blog automatically synced up so I don’t have to log-in to post, but I no longer keep the window open or myself logged in for any extended period of time. When I deactivated my account last month, people thought I had un-friended them. The idea that I voluntarily put my account on hold didn’t even come up as an option. Ugh, Facebook! I need it for work, but sometimes, I’m over saturated with the amount of infomraiton that is so easily accessible to me about the lives of my friends and colleagues. And sometimes, I get a little too excited when I see a notification. Not as excited as this post I read on FML :
“Today, I got a text message. My phone was sitting on the edge of the bed and set on vibrate, so it fell off. I reached down to grab my phone and fell off the bed. My Macbook landed on top of me. I fractured my arm and broke my laptop to read a text from Facebook.“
Yeah, that’s a sign to take a break.