Wednesday, April 7, 2010

"Social Media" My Ass

Southwest Flight 17 from Kansas City to Dallas touches down on runway 13R, and it immediately begins. Twenty-some-odd rows of six people reach for their iPhones, Blackberries, and Droids as soon as rubber meets runway. We make phone calls, check emails from the office, text loved ones (legitimate and otherwise), update Facebook walls, tweet our most mundane thoughts, and let the world know our location on apps like Foursqure. This, in the 21st Century, suffices for social interaction.

At a bar the other night with a few buddies, the conversation lulled, and we all impulsively reached for our phones -- seeing if there's anything important we might have missed in the last fifteen minutes. I take my laptop into a work meeting so I can keep up with emails while I half-assed pay attention to the meeting going on around me. Riding shotgun with my wife last Sunday, I find myself checking my work email -- on Christianity's highest of high holy days -- instead of enjoying the beautiful spring day.

Please stop this bus, I want to get off.

The World Wide Web -- the great liberator and disseminator of information and communication -- seems to be limiting our ability (or at least willingness) to have good, old-fashioned, face-to-face analog communication. This is becoming more and more acute as the internet moves from our homes and offices into the palm of our hands. The world is literally at our fingertips -- and yet we're all becoming more insulated and antisocial.

I'm no luddite. I like technology, gadgetry, and anything else that makes my life easier. And I, for one, don't want to go back to the days of IBM Selectric typewriters, rotary phones, paper maps, and VHS tapes.

But back in the day (and by this I mean 2003, for chrissakes), I used to spend my down time at the airport walking around, checking out the pretty girls, or maybe even starting up a conversation with the random guy sitting next to me at the bar. Now it's spent staring at a tiny display, hoping to keep up with everyone else who is trying to keep up with me.

It's not going to change, of course. And it'll more than likely get much, much more pervasive. But we're forgetting that you can't spell "technology" without "no."

And the latter is a word I need to keep in mind the next time I think about reaching for my smartphone.

1 comment:

  1. Amen. You are so right about this. As a matter of fact, I had a conversation with a buddy of mine awhile back. He said, "Can you imagine your grandfather seeing the kind of work we do now? Pushing pixels around all day with only back problems and sciatica to show for it."

    True, toiling the earth it is not. Of course, I've shoveled fill sand and hauled shingles up on the roof as well. Given the choice between that as a way to make a living and a Blackberry, the Blackberry wins. But yeah, some days I do wonder.