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Facebook addiction

How did we get to this place? Some of us have this urge to connect with others through social media. We are addicted to our smart phones, tablets and computers. Social media addiction is the driving desire to tune in to the noise of humanity. We are addicted to being instantly connected to the rest of the world. Ok, the entire world is not connected to social media because there are a lot of folks who are too poor to afford Internet access and the toys to access it. If you are like me, you are one of millions of people who have become addicted to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snap Chat, Youtube and other platforms like them.

I have been increasingly addicted to social media. After all, that is where all of my friends live from all over the U.S. It has been said that people join Facebook for that very reason. To connect with long lost friends and family that are also online. What better way to keep up with your friends and family. If we could do only that maybe it would not be so bad. The problem is that you not only keep up with the happenings in their world but you also hear about their opinions on a variety of topics including religion and politics. You hear about it from your friends and all of their friends as well. At the work place they say that religion and politics is not a good subject matter. We are passionate about those topics and before you know it conversations get tense and feelings get hurt. Work relationships become strained and work productivity suffers. I have lost track on how many heated debates I have read about with regards to religion and politics on Facebook.

Facebook is and always has been a very easy app to use. How many people access Facebook via a smart phone or tablet? The better question would be to ask how many people do you know that do NOT access social media while they are on the go. We check our Facebook newsfeed while we are sitting in traffic or eating at a restaurant. We check it while we are in the restroom or when we are talking to our real life friends sitting right in front of us. We check our newsfeed while we are in bed before we go to sleep. How long can we go without being connected? When I am busy at work I probably check Facebook while I am eating at my desk. I check it early in the morning and then if there is nothing good on TV I will spend hours browsing my newsfeed and responding to posts. Oh and lets not forget the memes. We have to read and forward all of the cute memes that we can find.

I believe that we are too connected. I remember a time when you did not know about something happening on the other side of the world unless you read it in a newspaper or saw a story on the news. We consume way too much tragedy on a daily basis. There is too much death and destruction and we have a front seat to all of it. We have been desensitized to the horror of it all. I bet Hollywood is struggling to raise the bar on how much horror it will take to keep us interested.

Having said all of that I have decided I am sick of the negativity and irritation it brings. Life is too short to focus on all of that garbage. No, it is not all garbage but a good majority of it is. There are those of us that also are painfully aware of the glaring privacy issues. Just recently Facebook users were told about 50 million people having their data harvested to be used by a data company for the 2016 election. There is no expectation of privacy on Facebook. If you put it on their platform it is theres to do with however they please. Maybe you did not know that. Maybe you chose to give them what you give them in exchange for some mind candy. If you do not want Facebook sharing all of your information with others you have to stop putting on their system. You also have to go into your privacy settings and decide whom you want to see your information. You have to manually lock it down and you have to keep looking at it on a monthly basis. Facebook loves to tinker under the hood and change things without telling us anything.

Now I will have to find other things to consume my time. I am thinking that blogging and reading books will be a good start. I am going to write about things that interest me. I have a couple of books that i have checked out of the local library to read. Yes, that is what I am going to do.

What about you dear reader. What are your thoughts on the matter?

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If This Video Doesn’t Convince You To Put Down Your Phone, Nothing Probably Will – The Meta Picture

If This Video Doesn’t Convince You To Put Down Your Phone, Nothing Probably Will – The Meta Picture.

I thought this video was well worth sharing with you, my readers.  🙂  How much time do we waste on social media?  I have to confess that I waste way too much time on Facebook and Google Plus.  I do have a G+ and Twitter account but most of the time I find myself glued to my Facebook news feed.

As I was watching this video I was reminded of why I go on a long walk with my dog Willow most evenings.  There are three main reasons.  One reason is to get off my rear end and go walk for the sole purpose of getting some exercise.  I spend most of my day flying keyboards at work and there is not much physical activity doing that.  I need to get some exercise of some sort.  The second reason is so I can unplug from social media.  Yes, I take my iPhone with me on the walk but it is there in case I need to call for help.  I rarely ever look at FB on my telephone.  If I can’t view social media on my laptop or iPad I probably will not look at it.  I guess that makes me a device snob but oh well.   The other reason I go for a walk with Willow is because I am fond of her and I love seeing her run free and having fun.   Poor Willow is stuck at home by her self most days.  Willow deserves to be able to run and romp and sniff and sniff and sniff and….. well, you get the picture.

I believe that social media is a powerful tool that does connect us at a certain level. It allows us to stay connected at a superficial level.  It helps us to know that the other person is alive and still with us since we can see them posting whatever it is they are posting.  There are some folks that fall into the TMI  category because they post their dirty laundry and drama for everyone to see. Then there are those of us that are smart enough to target what we speak about to specific audiences in social media.  I like to keep on top of 2nd amendment and self defense topics and I have a specific audience that I share that information with.  I have several interests and each of those interests are shared with their own specific audience.  Not everyone is interested in the same thing so it is good to be intelligent about what we share with whom.

I also believe that it is very difficult to make a solid connection with someone through a smart phone, tablet or computer.  Sure, we can swap words and funny stories and videos.  All of that is entertaining but it still does not give me that deep connection that would lend to having a good relationship.  I am not much of a social butterfly but social media has helped me to reach out virtually and in real time as well.  I still prefer to sit down with someone over a cup of coffee or whatever other drink that is preferred and have a heart to heart with them.  Listening to the tone of voice and seeing the body language when someone talks brings the conversation into the 3 dimensional level and gives the conversation much needed life.  Making eye contact and experiencing the emotions and passions of the other person is priceless.

This video is convincing me that I need to disconnect from social media more so that I can reconnect with humanity more.  Yes, it can be scary but it is not impossible.

Who wants to disconnect from Facebook , Twitter , Instagram, G+ and get together in real life this weekend?

 

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So much noise

Do you remember BBS's and Fidonet? Do you remember having to use a Modem to connect to the Internet through your phone line using either Compuserv, AOL or Prodigy? At one point or the other I used all three of them. I remember running Cross Connection BBS on all sorts of IBM compatible hardware. One of the computers had two 20 mb MFM hard drives that were so hot that you could heat up our apartment in the winter time. I remember how much I loved to learn about DOS and software back in those days. I remember staying up all hours of the night doing backups and waiting for people to dial our BBS phone number and connect to our computer.

One of the services that I provided for my users was the ability to download feeware software files, and to read and respond to message forums. I registered my BBS with , and subscribed to certain message feeds. Every night my computer would connect with its uplink provider and send up messages from my BBS and download more messages for my BBS users to read. That is how flame wars got started. Someone on a BBS that was subscribed to a particular Fidonet message base would start a conversation about some topic and then the flaming would begin.

Considering that I ran a faith based BBS it was not hard to attract those folks who were opposed to what are BBS stood for. After a while all of the messages going back and forth just became so much white noise. Before I knew it I got tired of the back and forth bickering and got burned out on it all. One day I remember a BBS in Houston Texas that offered its users a subscription option to use their BBS to get on this thing called the world wide web. You could dial into their BBS and then click on a link that would allow you to use your Netscape Navigator Browser to browse the Internet. I remember what a big deal that was. I also remember that with the slower modem speeds that browsing web pages was slow. Then again, most web pages consisted of nothing but a white background and links to other web pages with more links.

I remember how I loved to have the ability to make real connections with people from other cities and countries in the world. I remember how I would stay up all hours of the night and chat on IRC (Internet Relay Chat) and chat about all sorts of stuff. In years gone by people would go to the local barber shop or beauty salon to make personal connections. Now we can sit in the privacy of our own homes and use social media connections to make those connections.

Now at the blink of an eye, we have all sorts of web based portals at our disposal. MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIN, Foursquare, Twitter and Google Plus are just some of the major social media connections. MySpace is still online but I think that most folks have switched over to Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus for their social media needs. What drives us to be connected to one another and how meaningful are those connections? Do these connections add quality or quantity to our lives? I guess you get out of social media what you put into it. If you take the time to put yourself out there and make the connections with others you will find a lot of quality folks out there that you have things in common with. How much time are we willing to give up in order to make these connections? How consumed have we gotten by these social media portals?

Just the other day I watched a MSNBC special that was titled “The Facebook Obsession”. It is amazing how we will get online and share information with the world over social media. We feel safe and secure in our social media security bubbles and we throw caution to the wind. Social Media portals have become a source of information for both criminals and law enforcement agencies all over the world. If you want to track someone down all you have to do is find them on a social media portal and follow them to see what they are up to.

When does social media stop being a way to connect with our neighbors online and becomes an irritating white noise that starts to suck the life out of us? Are we obsessed with this connectivity to the point that we do not know how to step back from it all and take a deep breath? Are we able to dial back on our social media consumption or step away from it for a spell? When we start to feel like all of the connectivity is becoming white noise maybe it is time to evaluate why we are connecting and what we expect to get out of it. Social media usage can be very entertaining and it also can be a useful tool if used properly within the proper boundaries. Maybe I am not the only one with these thoughts or that struggles with all of this. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts.

 

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Good bye Facebook

I finally did the unthinkable.  I pulled the plug on Facebook.  Yes, I deactivated my account, after being there for several years. Why did I deactivate my account?  Gosh, let me count the reasons. 

A. Facebook , as one of many social media portals, has been consuming way too much of my time.

B. Facebook privacy issues.  Maybe I should say the lack of privacy, or the fact that they make you work way to hard on keeping your information private.  Is there such a thing as privacy on Facebook?

C. Facebook has gone out of their way to make the interface way too complicated to use efficiently.  I feel sorry for people who have decided to utilize Facebook for professional purposes, and have invested many hours to set up a presence on Facebook. 

D. I got sick and tired of the never ending game requests and application requests from people. 

Yes, in some ways I do miss Facebook.  I loved playing Texas Holdem, Scrabble, and Words with Friends.  I enjoyed keeping up with those friends and family in my main feed window.  In the last several months the usability of Facebook has deteriorated to the point that I no longer care to mess with it.

The term “Facebook Friends” is a bit misleading.  Before I knew it I had hundreds of so called friends.  I understand that social media makes it easy for folks to make connections with lots of folks online. I love making real connections with real people.  The problem with social media is that we only have so much time in a day, and we can only devote so much of that time to a handful of people.

I have come to the conclusion that I need to evaluate how I spend my time.  I work a full time job and take computer courses online through a local tech college.  I am married to a wonderful wife and have several teenagers living at home that consume time and energy.  What little free time I have needs to be invested more wisely, than wasting it away on social media. 

Is the social media monster consuming too much of your time, or have you been able to tame that beast more efficiently than me?

 

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How much connectivity is too much?

Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Gtalk, and lots of blogs to read and respond to.  Social interaction and connectivity seems to be the buzzword these days.  I connect to the “social media” hive through multiple conduits.  I connect through my work computer,  laptop, Blackberry Storm and now my iPad 2. 

It is almost as if I must stay connected for fear of missing out on what my friends are doing, or missing something that is happening in the world around me.  I can turn it all off when I need to. When I am at work and I am busy I forget about social media and get the tasks at hand completed.  It is almost a welcome relief to turn off the noise. 

I read online, where someone proclaimed 2011 as the year of social media.  I also read where “experts”, have determined that Facebook is harmful to the well being of my children, and that I should not allow them to use that service.  I must be a bad parent because both of my children have been on Facebook for years.  In our household broadband Internet connectivity is a necessity and not just a want.  Katy and I both attend online classes for two different universities and as an I.T. professional I need to have access to VPN and the work network so I can do support work and pay the bills.  I could lose cable television tomorrow and I would not shed  a tear.  Losing the Internet connection would cause problems. 

I feel like Katy and I are fairly tech savvy, and we are aware of the dangers of being connected to the Net.  I told Katy the other day that I wish that Justin and Kristina were not so addicted to Facebook, but then I look in the mirror and realize, that they must get it from me.  Maybe it is a genetic code thing?  One of the positives of my children being online so much is that they are sitting at home where I know they are safe.  What would they be doing without Internet connectivity?

Maybe they would be out in the world hanging with their friends, and having even more opportunity to get into other kinds of trouble.  I believe that our teenagers socialize just as much online as their adult parents.  I am not sure where the shift happened.  At some point society withdrew within itself and now it is safer to talk to strangers around the globe instead of talking to the neighbor next door.

In the midst of the constant social media noise I find myself looking for a balance that will help me to be socially active online, but enable me to turn the noise off, and find an inner peace and tranquility. When I get home from work I force myself to leave the iPad and laptop off so I can sit down and watch the idiot box and eat supper.  Again, I am always having to be entertained with some sort of visual stimulation.  Maybe I am on to something here. 

How much visual stimulation is too much?  The other day when I was in Dallas Texas, I ran out of minutes on ATT broadband service for the iPad.  I found myself with a cup of coffee in hand and walked outside to get some air.  When I walked to the front yard there was a cool breeze blowing through the trees.  I sat down in a lawn chair and the coffee cup in my hand.  It was nice to disconnect and just sit there enjoying the sounds of nature and the cool breeze.

Do you struggle with being connected to social media and e-mail?  How do you disconnect from it all, and find peace and tranquility?  Do you think we need to start a support group for those of us that are too connected?  How would you advertise that support group?  How much is too much?  

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