These days it is hard to open the newspaper without seeing an article about Facebook, Twitter or the myriad of other internet websites. Everyone is tweeting, Facebooking and posting away it seems.
I wonder if I’m just getting old (at the ripe age of 34) but I find myself becoming less enthusiastic about all these new websites and services that keep popping up. In fact, I find myself unplugging more and more.
Perhaps I am ahead of the curve. I had my first website in 1995 while still in HS and joined Facebook before anyone I knew had. I was constantly online from about 1998 to 2005 vigorously adopting every new internet fad that was out there.
Now, I’m the first to stop using it as much, to stop mindlessly posting every single thought that enters my head. I have no idea about the new services the kiddies use these days and never really took to twitter so I wonder, am I ahead of the curve by using less technology or am I just getting old?
Part of the reason may be that I’ve simply indulged too much, like a kid who has eaten too many cookies and feels a bit nauseous. I’ve got my news feed running, I see the stock prices next to that, I’m getting beeped and pinged and god forbid I turn on the chat.
If I think a bit more on the subject I feel a bit cheated with the social networking of Facebook. Here, I’m suddenly connected to seemingly everyone I’ve ever known yet, it overwhelms me so I chat with none of them. This is in contrast to the pre-facebook days when you ran into an old friend and had the joy of catching up with them and perhaps setting a date for a beer or two where you could really learn about what they have been up to.
Now, you find them online, “like” a few pictures, maybe trade a quick note or two and then simply become a voyeur. The massive amount of pictures that previous social etiquette would have compelled me to “like” and comment on has become too much. Every day is somebodies birthday and I feel bad if I didn’t wish them so because I forgot to check the FB on a daily basis.
I guess you could say that we are now connected but remain very much at a distance. You just do not get the feeling of closeness from a personal encounter with an old acquaintance by using Facebook. Or perhaps I’m just an old young adult?
There is also the issue of privacy. That is a topic that has been slung around the internet like a bag of dog poop recently. To be honest, younger people are not as paranoid as the older generation. I can remember that only two years ago, people only a few years older than I were worried about perverts downloading pictures of their children that they had posted. Well, I’m afraid now, the amount of children posted on the internet has seriously swamped and drowned any perverts out there as people have forgotten their former paranoia.
I on the other hand have swiftly moved in the other direction although it is not due to perverts. I have changed my name on FB to a fictitious one for the simple reason that I do not feel comfortable with the various tinkering of privacy settings that FB has become known for.
At first blush, I too am not that concerned with privacy. However, after seeing what sales teams for corporations do on the internet, which is to gather as much information about someone in order to sell something I have become more cautious. I too must engage in this practice and it continually astounds me how much I can learn about someone on the net. If they do not have their FB privacy settings set correctly I can quickly learn about their entire life!
For some, their privacy settings are set purposely that way. They enjoy being center stage and I believe use it as an emotional support to believe that people want to look at them. How many people do you know have 100 profile pictures of themselves? How many people record what they are doing every second of the day?
Some might say that it is simply the new way of communication, but perhaps older generations would call it narcissistic?
For me, I have around 600 friends on the FB and feel that is quite enough. Therefore, people know that my pseudonym is really me and thus have no trouble figuring it out. What is does however, is acts as a very effective block for the “snoopers” out there who want to sell me things, or use my information for some other nefarious corporate purpose.
As for Twitter, I already have enough noise I have to deal with on a daily basis and have enough trouble filtering it all out. Why would I want to add 1 million other voices to the daily garble? Yes, I do appreciate up to the second news but I would much rather prefer a well thought out article to some snippet from those that call themselves journalists these days. Like I said, I never really understood Twitter. I guess if I had to say one good thing about it, is that you really can get up to the second information if some interesting event is happening from people on the scene, but that is about it.
As for the internet in general, there are so many choices of websites and services these days that I almost feel paralyzed. Normal people can handle a choice of 4-5 things but when you add thousands it does create paralysis and I find myself sticking to the same sites that I’ve become comfortable with.
Now the amount of sites are around 60 or so and even if I Google a random topic I always look for the same URLs’ that I trust: Wikipedia, Yahoo, How stuff works, TED, News sites, FB, and so on.
I feel that I could probably add to my personal favorite websites if I hung out with some High School kids for a day or two, but then again, I’ve become old and find their websites just full of more noise.
To wrap this post up, I’m waiting for a story on people who are eschewing every new technological fad/website and becoming more focused. After all, if our current political debates were to act as a barometer I would say the internet is making us more stupid by creating sites that cater to very particular and narrow points of view. Our limited views are simply reinforced by the thousands of others who have a limited point of view and decided to make a website.
But without getting into politics or anything like that, I simply wonder when the tide is going to turn. Perhaps an even younger generation will realize that less is better. Or perhaps a new web service can finely tune everything I need to know into a 30 minute digest so I can stop staring at my multiple screens.