Tag Archives: Facebook

Facebook Is No Longer My Thing

Bartlett Finchley, a snobby food writer depicted in an episode of the old “Twilight Zone” television series, is experiencing his own “deus ex machina” (literally “god from the machine”). Finchley’s machines are not doing what they are supposed to do, which is to make his life easier and solve his problems.  The technology surrounding him in his upper crust home is rebelling. Supposedly lifeless inventions have a mind of their own.

In this episode, called “A Thing About Machines”, Finchley’s television (via a female Latin dancer on its screen), his typewriter, his landline telephone, and his radio, all modern technology in the 1960s world of Rod Serling’s magnificent science fiction and fantasy series, are all telling him the same thing: “Get out of here, Finchley.”

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The curmudgeonly author, described by Serling as a reclusive malcontent, responds by busting up his appliances. Finchley throws a chair into the television screen, tosses his radio down the stairs and rips his telephone out of the wall, all to no avail. The machines keep sounding off.

Some of his devices use more non-verbal behavior to get their point across. Finchley’s electric razor menaces him with its rotary blades, and even chases him down the stairs. Eventually he is killed when his own car goes after him on the street and pushes him into a swimming pool, where he is so frightened that he puts up no fight and drowns.

The theme of technology turning against us has been a common theme in the last several decades. Movies such as “Star Wars” and “I, Robot” and other technophobic flicks abound. Serling’s Twilight Zone episode with Finchley,  called “A Thing About Machines:” is brilliant in that it foreshadows this trend.

Most modern humans aren’t about to become Luddites, the 19th century folks who were so anti-technology that they did things like bust up factories. These films have had little effect on us as we march ever onward in our development and use of our conveniences.  We seem to be more and more tied to our mechanical and electronic contrivances.

Not everyone is a technofreak. There are indeed neo-Luddites out there, but they are on the fringe of society.  Most seem to be fed-up academics, students environmentalists and religious folks. However, they don’t appear to be organized and thus don’t show up in the media.

My critique of technology’s effect on our culture is not novel. It’s no secret that there is  a love-hate relationship between humans and their inventions today. On the one hand, older generations believe that our young people are becoming listless, addicted automatons who lack critical thinking skills due to their overuse of  mobile phones and laptops. On the other hand, these doohickeys have become such a fact of life and seeming necessity that none of us, including those who are aging, can seem to function without them.

This leaves all of us in a quandary. What do we do about protecting ourselves from the ever  encroaching storm of electronics, software and overbearing machines?

In a free society, the answer to that question is not black and white. Like with many things in a democratic culture, we are left to decide those things for ourselves. That it is the beauty of our form of government. However, given that we are already overwhelmed with choices in our society, it’s not a nice thing to have another decision put on our plate. But I think we have reached a point in our culture where we have to begin making individual informed decisions on what to do about the impact of technology upon us.

This week I made a decision of this ilk. For the umpteenth time, I ditched Facebook.

Like my previous attempts at running from Mark Zuckerberg’s creation, this choice was somewhat of a knee jerk reaction. But I think the call I made this time is more informed. My will was educated by both my intellect and emotions.

My brain has been mulling over the Facebook issue for some time. I have come to realize several facts. Most of my couple hundred  or so “friends” aren’t really my pals My friends list is made up of people with whom I was in a relationship with at one time, but no more. In a normal life, friends enter and exit. This is not true of Facebook. I have culled my list over time, but this method of trying to make some semblance of reality has not worked for me.

What is worse is that I have added people I don’t even know. As a result, when I log on to this social media behemoth, I am now subjected to the opinions, interests, friend and family life of people I don’t really care about.

I have also joined or followed  various interest groups, meme producers, joke sites and news outlets.  I’m don’t think I am alone in this, as the New York Times recently reported that about half of my countrymen use Facebook as a news source. But I also have my own set of other sites where I get entertained and informed.

In essence, I am now officially overwhelmed when I go onto  Facebook.

Then there is the issue of how I feel while I am on the site, or after I leave it. This concern is not new. I am familiar with a study which revealed that people are depressed while they are scrolling through Facebook. One reason is that we compare. Let’s be honest. No one posts their dirty laundry on social media.  (Well, a few people do, but it’s a bit unseemly.)  It’s all peace, love, dove all the time. If you currently have little or no life, or even if you do,  it doesn’t make you feel good when you see the pics of your “friends” in exotic locales or hugging their latest love interest as if they were on the old “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” program.

At the moment  though, I don’t think depression is exactly what I experience when  I am  am on Facebook.  Of late I have have felt more like Finchley did with his rebelling machines. I become agitated, angry and perhaps even fearful.

Thankfully, I have figured out why I feel the way I do. For many, social media has become a place where they can express their political views for all to read, if these folks choose to, or even if they don’t. Some of their opinions are put forth in the form of banner-sized pithy quotes and memes, all taken out of context of course.

As a news and commentary junkie, I find that I can’t help myself when it comes to getting involved in these posts.. I “must” read and even comment.  This has bred even more negativity in my life. My fellow social media types comment back, and many come at you with uninformed, knee jerk and personal attacks. And I don’t even really know these people. Facebook for me has become an interactive microcosm of our media environment as a whole: extremely toxic.

Because I am such a media freak and due to my current life circumstances, I find myself on Facebook a lot. Add this poisoning to my already insane addiction to the news, and I get the feeling I am on my way to a slow death. One of these days, like Finchley, I am going to find myself in a deep pool, pushed there by the force of the computer machine. It is time to regain control of my life and spiritual, mental and physical health.

I think the trigger for my decision to relinquish Facebook  was a message I received from a blogger whose work I follow there. I tend to comment a lot on his site. I think this is mainly because I agree with him for the most part. We share a lot of the same political and religious views.

What he said to me was, “Dial it back.” He was cordial about it, but I realized I had become like the dominating student in one of my language classes who wouldn’t let the others get a word in edgewise. He meant well, but to he honest, it just added another negative emotion experienced on Facebook: embarrassment.

I had already determined that I was going to back off of media, and Facebook in particular. This man’s request just sealed the deal.  He and my own thinking  were telling me,”Get out of here, Fowler.”

I have been away from Facebook for a few days now, and I have to admit it has left a void. The way I feel now makes me wonder if I had become a Facebook addict. Perhaps.

I now realize I have to  “face” outward into the real world, not the computer screen.  I heeded the call and  I got out of there. I am now in the very beginning of a process to decide where to go. I am hoping I will eventually hear and respond to a voice that says”come hither”  and it will lead me into a more enjoyable lifestyle.

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Birds on the Brain

Fowl(ers) are not nice on Mondays

I have birds on the brain. Beware of fowl(er) on Mondays.

Every day for the last 5 days I have been hearing cuckoo birds in my area here in Finland. You can hear the sound of these natural alarm clocks here.

It began last Wednesday at 4 am as I was sleeping. In Finland it is  also light out at this hour, so I didn’t get much sleep that morning.

It’s too bad I didn’t hear them again at this hour the next day. This was a holiday called “Helatorstai” (Ascension Day-see my post on this). It is said that if you have an “early cuckoo morning” on this day, hearing the bird from east or west, you will have good luck.

I have also been thinking a lot about the Oriole. This bird is the symbol of my hometown major league baseball team.

The Baltimore Orioles have been fighting for first place all season, which is amazing because they have been pitiful for about 15 or 16 years now. I think it might have something to do with the fact that the team switched back to their cartoon bird symbol, moving away from the ornithologically correct one they have used since the 1980s.

 Back in 1989 I happened to be visiting Finland for a few weeks and did not pay any attention to the baseball standings. I had no reason to since the Orioles had garnered one of the worst records in baseball history the year before.

A national magazine bemoaned the Orioles in 1988. By 1989 they were flying high.

Some time in midsummer, however, I was sitting on the Esplanade in Helsinki and opened up a copy of USA Today. Much to my shock the O’s were in first place.

They spent all season there and ended up tied with the Toronto Blue Jays (a nasty bird quite unlike my beloved Oriole). They lost a one-game playoff.

That year the theme for the Birds was “Orioles Magic, Let it Happen”. Peter Schmuck, the Baltimore Sun writer who covers the Orioles now, wrote recently that he senses the same spirit he witnessed in 1989 when he came to Baltimore from California to cover the Angels.

We can only hope! As the chart below shows, the O’s have been far more successful wearing the cartoon bird.

Source: cartoonbird.mlbblogs.com

Finally, the Angry Birds phenomenon has been front and center for me lately. I can’t help it as I made their cartoon bird my Facebook profile picture in the last couple of months.

If you have been living in a cave, you might not be familiar with the Angry Birds. This is a strategy video game developed here in Finland. Everyone around the world plays the game on their mobile phones or Facebook now.

Indeed, I wonder what my coworkers  do all day because I notice scores posted for them on FB. Of course, you could be asking me the same question, since I am on FB viewing them.

It was a big deal when the wife of the creator of Angry Birds came to the presidential palace last December for the annual Independence Day reception.  Knowing that the whole country would be jabbering about the fashions of the night, she wore a dress with the Angry Birds embedded into the pattern.  

Teija Vesterbacka sports her Angry Birds dress on Finnish Independence Day

I chose the Angry Bird cartoon for my FB profile pic because I bear a surname honoring our fine feathered friends. Furthermore, I’m angry a lot.

I was going to change my profile pic this week (maybe to the cuckoo). But I have figured out that my rage is actually justified.

There’s a lot of injustice out there and I want to do something about it. My self analysis showed me that my anger has more to do than injustice inflicted on me, though. What I want to do is get passionate about solving other people with their unjust treatment.

Thus, I had a career revelation this weekend. Hopefully my fancy won’t take flight like a bird.

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Social networking for curmudgeons

As a middle-aged man, I have always thought of social network sites such as Facebook as something that kids get involved with.  But recently, mainly so I could view my adult son’s photos, I created my own Facebook site. In a little over a couple of weeks, I have reconnected with  several old friends here in Finland and other countries. It’s been great to catch up with them.  I feel like I am less of a hermit and curmudgeon.

In addition to Facebook, I have joined other social networks such as Twitter and 48Days.net (a site for entrepreneurs).  Through the latter I am already learning how to increase the readership of this blog and my devotional blog .  Yesterday I had the most referrals ever on the latter blog from an outfit called Alpha Inventions.  I’ve never heard of them before now, but I assume some of my social networking has paid off.  Also, I’ve tried to make my profile on LinkedIn more complete. This site is more for professionals, but I have pretty much been ignoring it 

Somehow I get the impression from the news that old fogeys like me are taking over social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace and young folks  are leaving them in droves.  I’m not going to worry too much about it, though.  Young people are adaptable, and I am sure they will create something even better for their purposes.

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