A Curmudgeon’s Guide to Connectivity, Part 2 by Ron Steinman

A Curmudgeon’s Guide, Part 2

We pay a price, often higher than we imagine for being overly connected. I am on Facebook for professional reasons, meaning for creative projects and nothing else. Do not look for me on any other social network, except LinkedIn. I do not know why I am there because I believe is useless and a waste of time. Don’t think for a minute that any social site exists for anything but to make money. These sites are not for your amusement on a dark and rainy night when you might stare at your computer seeking comfort or validation for living in an increasingly tough world. Social networks do not exist to help the desperate, the lonely, the curious and the seekers of community, though that is who they attract. They exist to take advantage of people who are easy marks. Meaning those willing to pay for friends, yes, pay, rather than earn the trust of someone you know. Meaning, I say cynically, most people.

It should be apparent that I do not represent most of society as it marches hastily toward uniformity, both real and virtual. Some will say I am showing my generational stripes. You may think me backward because I seem to defy the advance toward modernity. I object to following the crowd. I am not a joiner now. Never was in the past. I do not need the masses to justify my existence. I have been around too long to care. I have no problem if others want to move in lockstep and sacrifice his or her individuality. Just don’t try to impose your will on me. It will not get you anywhere.

I do not mind what I experience when I am alone with my thoughts. And, get this – I refuse to multi-task. I will not write or read with music in my head brought to me by an iPod. Nor I will not balance my checkbook while listening to Mozart or Bach, both of whom I adore, or the Rolling Stones, my favorite rock band. There are commercials on TV that extol the virtues of multitasking. These say that you must use a handheld device because by doing so, the action itself becomes more important than anything else you do with your time does. What is good for the carrier is not necessarily good for America, and certainly not for me. Clogging one’s brain with assorted, extraneous “stuff” is not my idea of achieving clear thought. I am not a BlackBerry addict and I do not subscribe to any of the endless variety of similar machines. Accuse me of sacrilege. I don’t care.

I believe that the late Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Tim Cook, the Google “Twins,” Yahoo, hundreds of other software and app developers, and those still on the horizon might be winning the war to defeat the individual. I admit I want a crystalline purity of unimpeded thought but I know that is impossible. Most in the digital world must, I think, assume it is dangerous if people have the power to think for themselves. But they should know if they care to know, that they have lost the battle to win my mind. I am enough of a romantic to believe that when one mind is free, other minds will surely follow. Those who do not understand the need for privacy now, what much of this is really about, will suffer later. Hunger for privacy arises only when privacy disappears or a dictator takes it from you. Beware of the future.

Stories in the press abound about academic studies into the growing number of new social networks. These hoodwink the masses in believing they are part of a new society. Truth is I cannot keep up with all the smart-boy changes in the digital world. I fear, if I tried to, I might find myself spending all my time face down in a smart phone, thus becoming another junkie in digital paradise. Not for me.

Free flowing money support many of these inquiries that foster research into relationships, identity, and self-esteem. More social sites, including those playing to religious, ethnic and other special interests are coming online every day. I do not need them. Good luck to anyone who does. (Part 3 to soon follow.)

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