Our Devolving Species

Off the keyboard of Gypsy Mama

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Published on The Butterchurn on January 24, 2014

Discuss this article at the Newz & Multimedia Table inside the Diner
Social Media’s psychological grasp

I’ve recently been accused of being “crotchety” when it comes to new technology. Over the past few months, I have had to relay to new acquaintances that I do not have internet on my cell phone and if they need to contact me while I’m out of the house, Facebook isn’t a place we can both visit to correspond. Apparently, I’m an oddity.

I have always felt a strong pull toward types of old. Old ways. Old things. Old people. I appreciate their beauty. I connect with their energy. I’ve often felt that I am an old soul. The older, the more natural, the better. History. Quality.

For my 33rd birthday, I decided that as a gift, I’d like minimal contact with a computer for one week. Aaron and I had noticed a decline in our demeanor and after much discussion, we realized that the internet was causing it. We were overworked in virtual world. We had numerous sites to “check” and many interactions to respond to.

“For my 33rd birthday, I will celebrate as a person. Not an avatar.” This was my final Facebook status before I gifted a hiatus to myself.

So, on my birthday, I did not log into Facebook to receive my virtual birthday wishes. I have 700 “friends” on Facebook. Five of them contacted me outside of Facebookland.

Two of them called me. The other three texted me.

Our species is changing…for the worst. This list is an overall view of what I see and feel about the age that I live in. An age that I am apparently out of sorts within. “We” may not include you, but I bet you’ll know a few (if not many) people who fit into these groupings.

1.We are tethered.
We strap our cell phones to our hip. We interrupt those precious, in person human interactions when we are notified by our gadget that a virtual avatar is trying to speak to us instead. We feel vulnerable and out of sorts without our handheld window into the internet world.

2.What is a true community?
Overall, I’d say that we (specifically Americans) communicate with other people VIRTUALLY much more than we do IN PERSON. We buy our goods at box stores, foregoing the power of supporting our fellow man locally. We lack, and sometimes avoid, actual human interaction. We text and type, we shy away from speech. We are solitary.

3.Viewing our elderly as a nuisance.
We place our elderly into enclosed housing and don’t care to hear the tales of what they’ve learned from their past. We are much more “advanced” than they are, so what could they possibly have to offer to our technological lives? Stories about being cold and hungry? Overall, I see a theme with people my age: we tolerate our elderly. We do not respect them. We do not view them as wise. We have an inflated sense of know-it-all youth… deepening much farther into middle age than I feel is acceptable.

4.Children molded through blindness.
Us 30-somethings watched our parents work all the time to pay the bills, pay the mortgage and have one or two days off on the weekend. We learned their behavior and carried it on into our own adult lives. There’s no other choice but to work hard, all the time, and put the kids into the care of another, right? That’s just the way it is, right? WRONG.

Television also fits into this category. Television molds behavior. In public school, your kid could NOT watch television and could STILL be affected by it…because of the other children who DO watch it. The ability to be involved with (or in control of) what your child watches is crucial at an early age. Speaking to them about what they’ve watched (preferably watching it with them?) We ain’t got time for that. We’re much too busy. The boob tube has become the nanny. Meanwhile, while their tiny tushes are parked in front of the moving screen pixels, they are being molded by their new teacher.

5. Escapism through Entertainment.
A few people that I know live to be entertained. All they ever talk about are movies, television, bar adventures, gaming and the like. I have never had a meaningful conversation with any of these folks. Their outlook is always happy happy, because their number one daily action is partaking in an agreeable occupation for the mind. A diversion away from reality. This, I fear, is becoming more and more common among those once considered to be at an ADULT age. A bunch of big babies are out there driving around in their metal bullets, running on auto pilot, on their way to the next thrill…turning all the bookstores black with the soot from their exhaust.

6. Medication for your weak mind.
I don’t have a specific statistic that I can list here, but I am of the belief that over half of the people you cross while in public are probably on some sort of mind bending pill. Illegal or naught…they’re medicated. It seems to me that folks are more willing to pop a pill than do a little mind work on themselves. You know, actually take the time to focus on why they are acting a certain way? Be responsible for it? Do the hard work it takes to change it? Naaaaah… that’s too much work! Get a prescription instead. That’ll fix your woes.

I could go on with the list, but I won’t. I’m sure reading the pessimistic ramblings of a person such as myself does not bode well with your happy internet time. But that’s what we want our internet time to be, right? HAPPY!!!! Happy happy, joy joy.

I am the girl who is on Facebook because I get paid to be on Facebook. You have to sign up for a personal profile to be able to run a business page, which is what I do for another company. I also choose to use the cop out that I’m on Facebook because we have family across the country who wants to see photos. That, of course, is something that an ole’ fashioned email can easily cure. It makes me feel better to be involved with the beast to say that I’m there because I want to share images with family. It does not make me feel better to realize that I’m still a victim of the psychological grasp that social media places on us. The feeling that we HAVE TO BE on Facebook because EVERYONE wants us to be there. So we can “Keep up with each other.” So we can “Stay in touch.” TOUCH? What a joke. That requires human interaction.

I try not to get sucked into the vortex (let’s face it, it is a DEEP vortex) that is my personal page’s NEWSfeed. What a laugh. News? The articles that pop up on my feed are supposed to be from reliable sources. Laughable. Just the other day I viewed an article who’s title had been twisted and contorted and designed to GRAB more viewers. To obtain more likes. To get people to view their page, even though the article attached to the title was completely unrelated. The name of this page? “Daily Mail.” *Sigh

Alas…back to the HAPPY!!!!

The majority of the things that I see posted on my personal page’s friend newsfeed are indeed HAPPY things. People are happy they’re on vacation. They share some images. They’re grateful for the things they have, they share an image to show you their newest thing. They’re out having a blast with their beautiful, large family. More pictures. They’re eating a great meal! Hey! Here’s a photo of my plate! Happy. Happy. Happy.

Here’s the deal: I have no qualms about happiness. Happiness is needed in this cussed up society. Our world is SO far away from the natural world that it makes me mourn the loss of simplicity. Why have we become so damned complicated? We can’t even poop in the woods without being prosecuted. We can’t even be ALIVE without being forced to “comply” with purchasing health care…and if we don’t comply, we’ll be fined. Shame on you for being alive without paying for it.

My problem with the happy that is all over Facebook, in particular, is that Facebook is a virtual world where you are in control of allowing your “friends” to see what you want them to see. You may be posting happy happy all over the place, but are you really happy? Are you in reality, fooling yourself and those who see your status updates?

I’ve seen people bitch on Facebook about all of the “negativity” that they see on their newsfeed coming from those painfully awkward “friends” who may feel a little less than happy every now and again. No worries, though: you can handle that by DELETING them. So then, they no longer exist in your happy virtual world. You can continue on. You’ve solved your dilemma.

Now, let’s compare this to actual human interaction. When you’re in the physical presence of a TRUE friend, do you stop them mid-conversation and say, “Oh…you’re unhappy? Too bad. I don’t want to hear about it. I’ve stopped listening. I don’t want to have you in my life anymore. Let’s not keep up with each other’s lives anymore, okay?”

Facebook is CUSSED UP!

People live in a VIRTUAL world that they have handcrafted for themselves. I’d say that is pretty delusional, SAD and worth putting some time and effort in to think about. How can we handle the REAL world with an attitude like that? The way I see it, you just don’t. You don’t handle it. You opt out. You don’t “like” it! Easy!

Is this interpretation extreme? Maybe. But I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

Or…if you prefer, I could post a photo of a grumpy cat instead.

gpissed

I’ll tell you what I long for after my description of how I see Facbook has affected our species. I long for a group of intelligent minds. A group of critical thinkers who see the old time value of actually, physically, being in each others’ presence. Friends. I miss catching up with my friends IN PERSON.

Why is this a problem for me? Why can’t we seem to get together? Because they’re all too busy working to pay their bills. To live as they’ve been taught to live. Because they’re all so damned tired from working 8 hours a day to do anything but plug into their computer at night. Because they spend their weekends with their families– the only time they can.

wiredI have had many conversations that have began with, “Did you see my post on Facebook about…”
Granted, a much worse beginning to a conversation could be phrased as “Did you see the new episode of” or even WORSE, “Have you seen that funny commercial where..”

Am I completely lost within my own civilization? Am I some spacial being? What is WRONG with people????? Better yet, why can’t I just play, play along? http://wp.me/p2jbNu-3j

Yes, I’ve been a bit depressed about this lately. I feel as if we are devolving instead of evolving. We’re taking a big, fat stupid step backwards. And why? Because of technology? Because of a virtual world that was created? Because of our surrogate lives?

I recently read a post (also a line that is part of normal conversation, sadly) in which a friend (a true friend) wrote: “If you knew the world was ending, would you take time to update your Facebook status?” A number of people responded, broadly, “absolutely.”

Sometimes I wish I could just pull the power plug on social media. The multi-pronged, super extension cord that is wrapped around our necks and turning our faces blue. The wires wrapped in plastic coating, perfectly bundled together to link us in. To connect us.

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