Image via WikipediaOkay, I admit I check into Facebook a few times a day. When I look at what motivates me to do so, I realize I just want to know what everyone is up to, and that's what Facebook is for. But I don't really update my own "What's on your mind?" window very often, certainly not as much as some do. My thinking most of the time is "who cares what I'm doing?"
To tell you the truth, I don't really want to know EVERYTHING everyone is doing. I don't care to know each time someone has completed a puzzle or taken a quiz to find out what Star Trek character they are most like. I can't really use gifts like virtual teddy bears, or for heaven's sake, virtual glasses of wine! Don't be so cheap, get me the real thing!!
The whole "social networking" thing seems to be something that has taken over a lot of lives. As much as I check into Facebook, I know of others who live and die by those websites, constantly updating their status, adding photos, taking those silly little quizzes or commenting on their friend's activities. And some of my friends have literally hundreds of other "friends". I'm wondering if they even know half of those people.
An interesting thing about Facebook is that it seems to have attracted quite a few of my generation and older, because we really DO want to connect up with old friends and acquaintances and we actually have that many, whereas you wonder how a 15-year-old could even know a couple of hundred people yet. I've never signed up for Twitter, but it appears to be somewhat the same as far as constant updates and creating more connections. And it seems that every week or two, there is more news about some other social networking application or website.
Recently, CNet did an article about ten music-related social networking websites. You're supposed to share your favourite music, update people on what you're listening to and check out what they're listening to as well. You can buy music and merchandise and concert tickets on some of them, and other sites will even offer up suggestions as to what new bands or artists you might like. It's exhausting to even think about.
Which leads me to wonder...how do people have time to do all of these things a hundred times a day? Along with continuous texting or playing with iPod applications (there's another place to find all kinds of useless junk!), checking into Facebook and updating Twitter...how do they have time to even eat? It seems we've become a society that needs constant, 24-hour connectivity or entertainment...and we can't get enough of it. As soon as some new gadget or software or website or application comes out, we've got to have it. We can watch movies or TV or play games anywhere these days on our own, private hand-held devices, we can phone or text anybody from anywhere, we can update our Facebook or Twitter accounts whenever or wherever we want.
A person from a third-world country would think we had become strange, alien addicts, permanently plugged into one device or another and always looking for more. I'm sure psychologists are out there trying to determine what this behaviour is doing to us. On the face of it, connecting with friends seems like a pretty harmless thing...but it really isn't just about connecting with friends anymore for many people as far as I can see. It has become a rather narcicisstic, self-indulgent, me-important way of life for many, and what does that say about us?
There are a couple of people in my own inner circle who refuse to have anything to do with technology, and of course I laugh at them for not being "with the times". But the times they are a changin' rather quickly and I'm not sure that I completely disagree with their stance. A part of me doesn't want to get left behind or left wondering what this or that new confounded gadget is. The other part realizes that something is being lost by filling my brain and my time with all of this nonsense.
Maybe that's why I enjoy golf so much. I know it's not just because of technology that I can't turn my head off these days, but I don't think it's helping either. I worry about my kids having grown up in such an environment and my grandchildren, who are about to. No, I don't have grandchildren yet, but already I'm worried about them! Younger generations have not had the benefit of a computer-less life as those of my generation and older have. They don't know about "boredom" or peace and quiet, they don't know how to create games from nothing but a pile of rocks or sticks. How many times have they sat on the edge of a stream in the wilderness dipping their feet into the cool water? Many of them would likely find that laughably dull.
I don't reject technology, obviously, or I wouldn't be sitting here typing this blog. But as with anything in life, there has to be a little balance. Maybe I'll start a new Facebook group called "Turn The Gadgets Off and Go Outside!" Probably wouldn't go over well.