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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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Seasons

I was reminded this weekend of how important time is.  We mark time by different seasons in our life.  Most of the time when we think of seasons we think of the four seasons of the calendar year.  Those seasons are Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter.  Each one of those seasons brings with it something unique that reminds us of that time of year, and why we either love it or dislike it.  For instance, I am not too fond of Summer because it is just so miserably hot.  Once the temperatures start creeping beyond 90 F I find myself staying inside more and outside less.  The only time I do not mind sweating is when I am at the gym.  The rest of the time I do not care to.

We only have so much time here on this earth.  I believe that our allotment of time is given to us by our creator God and that it is our responsibility to use it as we will.  We can either use it productively or we can waste it away with frivolous activities.  As I said earlier, I was reminded of this because one of our members of our men’s life group is in the ICU at one of our local hospitals.  His precious wife woke up early Sunday morning to find her spouse not responding.  Thankfully through CPR and modern medicine they were able to bring him back and is now in ICU fighting for his life.  Why is it that it takes things like this to remind us of how precious life is?  Maybe we just assume that we will have another tomorrow when the reality of it is that we may not.

Seasons brings change.  Some of those changes are good, some are bad.  Some changes bring life and some brings death.  Some of those changes we have no control over like the seasons I described above.  Some things in our lives we do have control over such as how will I spend this 24 hours.  In a 24 hour period I get between 6 and 8 hours of sleep.  That leaves me 16 hours for the rest of the day and 8 of those I spend at work.  That leaves me 8 hours to do with as I will.

Just this week one of my blogging friends described how she intentionally went through a digital detox.  She intentionally stayed away from social media because she realizes how much time she wastes with it.  How many of us can admit to the same thing?  How many hours have  I wasted on Facebook mindlessly scanning my time line to read this and that.  How much of the information I get from my Facebook timeline is a total waste of time?  Probably more than I would like to admit.

One of the things I have decided to do is to go through my Facebook friends list and take a hard look at who I am communicating with and why.  How many of my FB Friends actually communicate with me in a meaningful way?  Out of 462 supposed friends I have about 25 or 30 people that I either know in real life or have been communicating with online for quite some time.  All of those people are now in my Close Friends list and those are the people that I will be communicating with when I post to Facebook.  The rest of the people I moved to the acquaintance list and I unchecked the “follow on time line” so I do not see their posts.  I still have some folks that are not in the close friends list that I will chose to post to my time line because they have something interesting to say.  For the most part I have cut out all the endless drivel about politics and religion.  Some folks are just super obsessed with their view points and I have consumed way too much of it.  I have found that the overload of information about several topics has just affected me in a negative way.  It is time to cut back I believe.

Now that I am going to do less mindless following of my FB timeline I will have time to read books, write in our blog and reconnect with family and friends.  When I say reconnect I mean to reconnect the old fashioned way.  I am going to learn how to pick up the phone and call people.  I might even write a letter or two and drop them in the mail box.  How absolutely wonderful could that be? Would you like to have a pen pal?  If so, hit me up and we can do that.

I also plan on spending more time finding my Happy Places.  I spend some time down the street from our house at a place where I can pull off the road and see the Stono river.  It is relaxing to unplug from social media and enjoy nature.  It is nice to listen to the water lap against the rocks and watch the birds.  The locals like to come out to fish and catch crabs.  Sometimes I like to shut my eyes and just listen and catch a nap.  A small season to relax and enjoy some me time.  A slice of time and a place to reflect on what matters the most.

Do you struggle with things in your life that are a huge waste of time?  How do you deal with it?  I would love to hear from you dear reader.

 

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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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Community

I came home late last night after working a short day, and then studying for a quiz in one of the three classes I am taking online at Trident Technical College.  I spend a lot of time working with technology, and staring at computers all day, so I had no plans on getting online when I got home.  I just wanted to stuff my face, and disengage my brain ,and watch some television.  I call television the idiot box because there is a lot of worthless garbage on it.  After a long day at the office, I like to stop solving problems, and just let me mind wander, and let it be filled with whatever favorite show is on at the moment.  Late at night, I typically watch channel 2 news, and the Tonight Show with   Jay Leno. I guess my parents got me hooked on the Tonight Show as a kid. I remember them watching the Tonight Show when Johnny Carson was hosting it.  I like watching Jay Leno for his monologue, and to see which actor or actress he will be interviewing for the night.  It is interesting to me to see the real person that is behind the actor.  I am sometimes pleasantly surprised at how real, and sincere, and deep some of the folks are despite their fame and fortune. 

The other day I confessed my addiction to multitasking while sitting in front of the television.  I always have my laptop turned on, while watching the television, and eating supper, or a snack of some sort.  One of the reasons I have been battling a weight problem is because I have a need to snack, while sitting in front of the television.  Over the last 5 years, or longer, I have learned to eat sunflower seeds when I get the urge to snack.  One of the other things I am trying to change about myself is to have the ability to not always be multitasking.  Thanks to our new found desk I am trying to leave my laptop on the desk and not on my airdesk  next to my recliner.  I need to find a way for me to relax and watch TV, and not have to be surfing the Net, or paying attention to social media, or the IRC channel, that I have been helping to moderate for the last 2 or 3 years.  

I am drawn to social media and the IRC channel named #imprfect_christian because it is a community of people that I have learned how to connect with.  I spent a decade on IRC back in the early 90’s, when BBS’s were the hot thing going, and the way to connect with a community of people all around the globe.  Today there are still IRC networks and BBS’s that are in use by a lot of people.  I find it interesting that most folks that are on IRC have not adopted social media in the way that I have.  I think that most of them are just comfortable with the text chat interface, and for whatever reasons they have a dislike for Twitter, Facebook and the myriad of other social network applications.  

As I said earlier I was going to skip the nightly session on IRC, and social media, and just give it a rest. That lasted for about 20 minutes and then I found myself online once again, sitting at my desk eating supper, watching the news and chatting on IRC.  One of my friends from CT was online, and since she does not get online that often, we were catching up on life.  While we were chatting someone using the nick of itsmesteve logged onto the IRC channel, and told us that they were contemplating suicide.  When this was said our “troll alert” started going off.  You never know what is going through the minds of people when they come into an IRC channel and say something like that.  I did a whois command on the nick in question, and I could tell that they were not in any other channels on this IRC server.  Most of the time when someone is being a troll in a Christian channel, they are in a dozen other non Christian channels at the same time.  For whatever reasons some folks like to come into a Christian channel and be disruptive, or act out in order to get attention.  

In the case of itsemesteve he lost a loved one to a sudden myocardial infarction yesterday and he was experiencing some intense pain and anguish with the loss.  I spent some time chatting with him and encouraging him to speak about his feelings.  The person that he lost was an ex wife and apparently the children were blaming him for her death which was making matters worse.  I encouraged this person to reach out to local friends or family for support and I found out that he is a Christian which means that he will be able to lean on God during this time. 

One of the things I have learned from being online over the last 20 years, is that there are a lot of hurting people.  People are looking for love and acceptance, and relief from the pain they are experiencing.  I am glad that I am part of this online community, and more specifically, that I am able to provide a measure of comfort and support to folks like itsmesteve ,when they come into our channel late at night.  I am glad that we could be a safe haven for him to come, vent his feelings and share his pain.  Perhaps his being able to talk about the grief for a period of time, helped him to stop thinking about suicide.  

As I said earlier, I love social media, and the personal connections that I have made through it.  I believe that there are different people utilizing social media for different reasons.  Some folks use it as a means to network with others online, and advertise their services, so they can make a buck or two.  Some folks like me, just get online with social media for the people connections I can make, and to grow my community.  No matter why we get online, and no matter what social media applications we might use, we should be mindful that we are surrounded by hurting people, who may be going through some tough circumstances.  I know that I have met some very wonderful folks here in Charleston, who have blessed me tremendously because of the type of people that they are.  I guess that is what community is all about.  Being real with one another, and respecting one another, and walking down the road of life, and being there when folks need for us to be there.  

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