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Saturday, January 15, 2011


Our new obsession

It is a wondrous and curious thing to be part of a world where changes in technology dramatically and instantaneously impact how we live.  Sometimes I feel like whoever is in charge has their foot on the accelerator and we are traveling faster and faster into an unknown and unknowable future. How would I ever be able to explain a cell phone or the Internet to my long gone and very gregarious Nana Sophie (who I do hope to see again in the next world…) or the new eCigarettes to her brother, my Great Uncle Milton, who never was without his trusty aromatic cigars?

Consider this; we recently gave my 82 year old mother a MAC and an internet service so she could watch the exercise videos her bone specialist has posted for Seniors on his website, as well as weekly updates and advice.  This is, I would submit, the contemporary and future reconfiguration of paying house calls and providing rehabilitation services on-demand by the medical profession. It’s rather astonishing and efficient. Now if we could just get my mother to remember how to navigate to where we’ve put these bookmarks on her computer. It is clear that the Internet is for the young and more intellectually flexible. 

Young Person of the Year

As proof, Mr. Mark Zuckerberg, a very young man, wears the mantle of Time Magazine’s Person of the Year because of his electronic creation, Facebook.  Clearly this phenomenon has expanded and confounded the notion of friendship. Facebook friendships may or may not be with your closest friends. (I have several near and dear who continue to avoid this site like the plague.) Facebook friendships may or may not reconnect you with people from your past. It has made it easier to maintain and establish connections with others, with people you may remember fondly and with people who were a part of your life when you and they lived or worked nearby or together; even with the people next door. It’s all how you choose to play on the Facebook playground.

For example, a simple press of the button indicating you like something someone else has posted gives the recipient an acknowledgment, as in --you matter to me. A lovely and easy way to show --I value what you value; a what makes you feel good makes me happy – and I think that’s a good thing.  We generally don’t give ourselves enough pats on the back for what we accomplish.  Now we can provide them for others in an instant. 

"Poke your Grandma, Kyle"  Classic irreverent South Park
You have 0 friends  -- Season 12 Episode 12 
I also like the poking feature. It’s a way of playing tag on Facebook’s Playground, the most egalitarian game ever invented and you can play this kind of tag all day long and never get tired or winded. 

Danger Zone
For a while, I was really caught up playing Farmville, gifting my cyberneighbors with cows and trees and planting and harvesting crops to optimize their yield and value. Once I had amassed over $2 million Farmville dollars, it all become rather pointless to me. It stopped being fun spending money on virtual things. I abandoned my farm, but no animals were actually harmed in my doing so. 

I briefly waited tables and served up a bizarre menu of choices in Cafeville and then became part of Yo-ville, a real-time interactive social game where you can eventually inhabit a palatial estate, wear the hippest clothes and continuously redecorate your pad.  Along the way you can shop and tour the town, interacting with strangers and admiring their sense of style, visiting the homes of friends and in general just be an electronically social person. You could do all this while still sitting on your couch, wearing your pajamas. 

Help me, Dr. Drew
All of this pointless activity became the great black sinkhole of Facebook and I found myself fallen like Alice, into a new make-believe world from which there seemed no escape. Clearly I had to wean myself off of these games and find a more productive use of my electronic time. I had to admit to myself, I was addicted.  Could I possibly need to check in with Dr. Drew? (Would I get to meet the golden-throated Ted Williams, formerly homeless beggar, who has so much to come clean for, but appears destined to fail?) I have to confess, I am a visual junkie. If it moves, I’ll watch it. That’s not to say that I don’t have taste or a critical eye. I am selective, but initially easily seduced.  

The result of this withdrawal is what you see before you – this blog. I decided that I certainly might be a entertaining as earning a virtual cow or serving virtual spaghetti, at least I hope so! I’ve also learned to pepper my words with pictures that I hope provide my readers with respite from my ramblings.  Facebook now serves as one of the major portals to my very own imaginary electronic playspace. Thanks to you, my readers, who come week after week to play on my playground. 

Tag, you’re it.

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