48 Hour Technology Strike

Keep track of my strike time at http://countingdownto.com/countdown/223092

I’m going on strike. Not from a job because – I think we all know – I don’t work. I mean I work at the most thankless job on the planet (housewife and SAHM), but there is no monetary compensation for that.

Yet.

No, I’m going on strike from technology. For the next 48 hours I’m ditching my cellphone, laptop, and iPad, and I think you should too. Here’s why:

#1 There Is A World Outside Your Cellphone

I just have had it up to about my eyebrows with sitting at dinner with people that spend the entire time texting and BSing on their cellphones. My husband is notorious for doing this; and the most egregious part is that he’s just scrolling through his apps doing mundane updates that are entirely unnecessary. It’s so rude, and reeks of the implication that the only world that exists to the people committing this etiquette faux pas is within their cellphone and computer. That the world in which I am – sitting across from them at the table – does not exist when the world of technology is around.

There is a world outside your cellphone. And your computer. Not getting Facebook updates is manageable, dare I say – not a big deal.

Just today I read an article about the growing problem of Facebook addiction, in which it was reported that as many as 1/3rd of people that were interviewed admitted to experiencing feelings of envy when viewing photographs and other updates of others on Facebook. This implies a number of things, but as for this point I think this has a lot to do with the fact that some of us think there is no world outside of Facebook.

1313897240072_6858395Do you faithful blog followers actually believe that life is as wonderful and exciting as it appears to be for some people on Facebook? Every photo is from a party; therefore life is a party? Every update is positive, fun, and full of excitement; therefore nothing bad ever happens to the people on your Facebook page? Nonsense! The only reason why people post on the social networks great and wonderful and awe-inspiring news is because it’s looked down upon to report anything real that happens. People call reality “bad” and “negative” – two words that have been demonized by our terribly childish social network culture.

There is a world outside of your computer. A real world. A world where you are not alone.

#2 Capturing Photographs Is Not the Point

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Recently I realized that I spend more time capturing some moments than actually experiencing them. A blogger, I’m constantly trying to shoot things that can be used for my blogs; but now it’s leaked into every aspect of my life. Yesterday I snapped over twenty photographs of my car being towed. The experience from beginning to end was captured on photograph, and yet when it came time to recall the tow truck driver’s name today when AAA called to survey the experience, I had no idea. The guy really went the extra mile in taking care of us and I was so focused on my own photographic evidence that I couldn’t even take the time to learn his name.

The point of having a good meal is not to capture a photograph of the food. The reason for going on a hike is to get exercise, fresh air, and experience the outdoors. I have friends that have so many photographs of their experiences that I wonder if they even would remember what happened if it weren’t for the photographs, much like I can’t recall the tow truck driver’s name.

And is a memory not sufficient anymore to prove that something happened? Take a picture of your kid at this park, then that park, then this other park, then another. We get it! You take your kid to the park. We would have believed you if you just said it once. 7,000 shots a day of the kid running in the grass gets old. Really old. This isn’t to say that the kid isn’t cute, or the food doesn’t look as tasty as you describe it.

It’s just that technology is replacing even our most intimate moments and experiences.

#3 Technology Really Makes Me Hate People

And lose respect for them. This person didn’t respond to an email I sent in due time. A text message got ignored. People didn’t “like” or comment on my blog.

How many times have you Tweeted someone for them to never respond? How many times have you followed a blogger only for them to ignore you, as if they are too “big” to follow back?

The list of Internet etiquette grievances is a long one – not just mine, but the conglomerate list of all the billions of people using the Internet regularly. Sometimes it makes you hate people to be connected all the time. It makes you hate how not everyone operates by the same standards you do. And it makes you loathe the ways in which they think and act – from political posters on Facebook, to people that use their cellphones and computers as a way to bully; technology has just made it easier for the whole of humanity to act like assholes.

While I am definitely a fan of general misanthropy, I get too angry when I’m online too much.

#4 I Need a Break From Web MD

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I need a break from Web MD. And the news. And Google flu trends. And Sickweather.com. I’m such a hypochondriac, with a glaringly unhealthy level of OCD, that I am obsessed with what’s going on around, who has which diseases, and whether or not I have [insert obscure, unlikely disease here].

I need a break from all that nonsense – I wash my hands; cover my cough; and avoid sick people. How exactly does checking up on where people are sick in my area every day make us any more safe? Am I going to avoid running errands because a few people Tweeted that they had the stomach flu in my area? No. No – we still need milk, eggs, and bread.

But it’s also a matter of not just health, but of the news. This is another thing my husband is horrible with – he is obsessed with the news, and occasionally I am too. It isn’t just one article on something that happened, or a study that was done; it’s all of them that show up in the Google News Aggregate. While I don’t think it’s good to stick our heads in the sand, sometimes shutting it all off is for the best. There is nothing I can do about the fact that North Korea issued another threat to the United States. The fact that emergency room visits from energy drinks have increased by 47% bears absolutely no effect on me.

Obsessing over all of these things is just another way that technology has a hold of our lives, just as in the case of cellphones leading us to believe there is no world outside, and photography applications robbing us of having actual experiences.

Realistically, 48 hours off technology is nothing. I still remember a day when I never used a cellphone or a computer. When I never used a computer – oh what I would give to say I still did that now. What I would give to be able to say that any of us could be successful at anything without all the advances computer and cellular technology can offer. Sure, my Klout score may go down about a point from being offline for 48 hours. I may offend someone much in the way I have been offended by not responding soon enough to an email or a text message. But think of all the things that can come of unbinding myself to the chains of my technology. I don’t even know what the next 48 hours holds. It’s kind of exciting to know that they won’t involve a cellphone or computer.

The real question isn’t “why should I do it?” though. It’s “can I do it?” Can you?

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How Facebook’s Got Us By the Gonads

A few months ago, I saw a web comic touting Mark Zuckerberg as our evil overlord.  He was this hugely, grotesque being that gobbled up people and just shouted “MOAR HUMANS!”  Hilarious, and alarmingly true, the comic pops in my mind every time I see an article about Facebook and its 750 million active users – Zuckerberg truly is our Overlord.

Today, that comic resurfaced on the early morning newsfeed of New Facebook.  For seasoned Facebook users, such as myself, a new version of the ever-growing social networking giant is nothing new.  Every few months, Facebook has been making little changes here and big changes there in an effort to constantly evolve with the times.  Internet technology changes with unrelenting rapidity, and so the mark of an effective platform is one that does not get wiped out by something big, bright, shiny, and new.  The nature of that, though, is inevitably change.

Thus far, Facebook has been relatively successful in not getting wiped out by newer and more exciting competition.  Twitter came along and Facebook adapted to integrate the features Twitter touted.  Similarly, Google+ has come in and this new Facebook version is nothing more than its attempt to not be wiped off the grid by the features people have come to love about Google+ and its damn-catchy circles.  All of these updates, changes, whathaveyous that Facebook puts us through on a regular basis are nothing more than a digital version of survival of the fittest – so far, Facebook has proven itself the fittest.

Now, faithful blog followers, I will admit that the changes can – at times – be annoying.  When they are going on, Facebook goes into suck mode, where it takes forever to retrieve any of your information (notifications, messages, etc.) and has even been known to freeze up Safari once or twice.  Then there is always the matter of relearning Facebook, a process that is not too particularly difficult but does take time.  This morning, upon realizing that I would have to take a few minutes out of my life to relearn how to block all of my closest family and worst “friends” from seeing all of my content, I became a little annoyed at the fact that Facebook presumes I have the time to even do such a thing.  In the end, though, it is all more than tolerable, and even understandable given the need for Facebook to keep its head above water in the Age of the Social Network.  And ultimately, the conclusion to Inman’s web comic is right: in just a few weeks (months at most), everyone will have completely forgotten what Old Facebook was even like.

But how does this all translate into Zuckerberg being our Overlord and Facebook having a tight, firm grip on our gonads?

Every time there is a major Facebook change (particularly when it is something people coin ‘New Facebook’), people cannot shut up about it.  This morning, almost every person’s Facebook status was about how much they hated New Facebook.  “That’s it, Facebook … you’ve done it to me one, too many times.”  “This New Facebook sucks!  Why do social media giants get to tell us how to organize our online experience?!” And, of course “Go to HELP and tell Facebook you want Old Facebook back!  Stop Facebook from telling us how we have to experience our social network.  REPOST!  Everyone agrees, but 98% of people won’t do what’s right!”  As the day wore on, it got worse.  People started saying they were going to quit Facebook; that this was just the final straw for them (of course they won’t).  #newfacebook was trending on Twitter all day, and continues into the evening.  I even saw someone change their profile picture to nothing more than an image that said “Hate New Facebook.”

And for the first time, ever, this incessant bitching and complaining about a change that no one will care about three weeks from now has transcended into the realm of the flesh.  That’s right, faithful blog followers, at lunch today I overheard four, separate conversations about how awful this New Facebook is.  A friend from Chicago reported to me that it was on the radio and a segment on the evening news.  As if we no longer have anything to talk about, we now have resorted to conversation in person about the very thing that is the antithesis of an in-person experience.

This is why Zuckerberg is our Overlord – and why Facebook has got us all by the gonads.  With a tight grip around our testicles and she-balls, he has controlled us to such a degree that it is all we can talk about, all we can think of.  Not only is it all we can talk about, though – we spit in the face of our own complaining and continue to use it.  If people were really so outraged about Facebook, they would stop using it already.  Switch to Twitter, Google+, text message, or (GOD FORBID) FACE-TO-FACE COMMUNICATION.  But that will not happen because we need our Facebook.  How else will we keep in touch with our friends that are okay with New Facebook?  Or how else will be play Bejeweled Blitz and Mafia Wars?  I really need a goat for my Farmville and if I don’t have Facebook, I can’t get ahold of one.  You really have to give it to Facebook, for it has made itself our lives.  We may be miserable right now, but we cannot give up for we always have that beacon of hope – be it free photo sharing, an instant messaging platform, or just a place that we can bide our meaningless evenings.

So, faithful blog followers, I say all hail Lord Zuckerberg!  ALL HAIL!