|Posted on October 6, 2010 at 3:33 PM|
Technology is opening ever wider the Pandora’s Box of “just because you CAN doesn’t mean that you SHOULD.” Nearly everyone is connected everywhere, every second. I watch people out “exercising” staring intently into the screens of their cell phones, thumbs akimbo, pecking away a rapid-fire staccato text of self-imagined importance. I see people driving with the backs of their hands or elbows as they cradle their phone to check or send a message other drivers be damned. Or just take a look around the next time a plane is landing and you catch the entire cabin erupting into a frenzy of people whipping out devices to call/text/message people the instant that the wheels touch the ground.
But it seems the more connected people are the LESS connected they actually are, and the less personal communication has become. People sit next to one another texting conversations back and forth and sending e-mails across the wide chasm of 8 feet of office space. (In our own house, evenings often find Dana in the bedroom on the computer and myself in the living room on the computer. I like to e-mail her lewd suggestions, and with AOL, there is no denying that she didn’t read them.)
So many messages are sent out to dozens/hundreds of people at once in a generic, mass-blasting of information dissemination or – far worse – simply blindly forwarded along where you’ll be lucky to get a personalized, “LOL! YOU’LL LOVE THIS!!!!” (I say “lucky” but what I mean is I‘ll be angered by and then immediately delete the message unread and then place your e-mail address onto the Watch List. Before forwarding me a non-personal message – no matter how hilarious or cute or clever or inspiring or thought-provoking or LOL you THINK it might be – ask yourself these questions. 1) Does John *absolutely* need to see this? 2) If you answered “yes” to question number 1, make sure that you have an accurate understanding of what “absolutely need” means. 3) If still yes, then can you clearly articulate in a well crafted paragraph WHY I need to see this and put that as an introduction to the forward, understanding that if it ends up not passing question 1 muster, then future e-mails very well may go completely unread?)
All of this technology seems to have given everyone the license to perpetually over share every mind-needlingly boring moment of their lives. First it was Facebook, with the constant status updates or “What’s on your mind.” Then came Twitter, which seemed to give people even more of an urge to share the inane and totally unimportant since it was only 144 brief characters. But just because it’s short doesn’t make it any more interesting. Or necessary. Look, I don’t care that you just gave your kitty a bath. I don’t need to know every song that you’re listening to. I don’t care that some chick just totally caught you picking your nose at a stoplight. Sure it sucks that you just stepped in dog poo, but reading about it didn’t enrich my day one bit. (Now if instead it is a large bird that flew over and dropped a giant, white globbey of bird rhea on you, yes! That I DO need to hear about!)
Two other relatively new uses of technology that I don’t “get” are Foursquare and Blippy.
So far, about 3 million people are using Foursquare, which seems like it is trying to be some kind of real-life video game where you “unlock” or “achieve” badges by doing certain things. Once the app is installed on your portable device, you “check in” when you visit certain locations and then by doing things enough times or at the right time of day or in the right sequence or for the first time or when drunk enough or whatever, you are given some token of an icon to display by your name. However, a lot of these things just make me think how sad and pathetic and what a raging alcoholic loser you are. You’re now the “Mayor of SuperCuts”? Really? And you’re proud of that? That you’ve been to SuperCuts SO many times that you are now the Mayor (whatever that means)? I’m just thinking, “Nice hair, dude.” But I’m thinking it with sarcasm dripping from every word. Or that you’ve been out at the same bar until 3 in the morning for the past three nights. Or that you unlocked the Crunk badge by hitting four bars in a night? That is what you want to share with the world?
Blippy is even more over-sharey where it automatically posts up all of your credit card purchases! They describe the service as “a fun, free and safe site that lets you share your purchases and see what your friends are buying online and in real life.” Yay! Cause if there is anything that I want more than the world knowing everything that I buy, where I buy it and most importantly WHAT I pay for it, well, then Steve Jobs hasn’t come up with it yet! (Do I REALLY want all of you to know the chronicle of junk food shame spiral that was my diet while Dana was out of town? I ate 5 Sonic hamburgers, OK! FIVE! Happy now?) Wait! I just thought of something I love more than sharing MY purchases. It is meticulously digging through the trashy receipts of all of YOUR purchases! Yes! Because my life has been an incomplete, meaningless drudge until I found out where you bought and what you paid for that seedless watermelon. And now I totally want to hear the back story behind that $294.75 you dropped at “The Leather Haus” and “Adam & Eve” on “personal entertainment accessories.”
All of this information in the public domain certainly doesn’t seem to be bringing us any closer to one another. It is just giving us a voyeuristic look at how truly, frickin’ boring and self-obsessed people really are. Here’s a thought. Cut back for a few days. Save up the REALLY good stuff. Type it in a great e-mail – or better yet an actual phone call – and then share it with people that actually really DO mean something to you and who would really care to hear the big news. Or, you know, start a blog. Cause that’s different.