Country Living Series

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Living in the real world

I have a cell phone. It's a no-frills version that takes calls and receives calls. It doesn't take photos, connect to the internet, or send Twitter messages. Nor does it vacuum my floors, do the laundry, or wash dishes. All it does is takes calls and receives calls. Oh, and the only time it's turned on is when I'm away from home. Keep this in mind for a moment.

A few years ago, a friend got her first book published. There was much rejoicing in our writer's group over her success. But like all new authors, it wasn't just a matter of sitting on her laurels and watching the royalty checks roll in. No indeed. She had to deal with the bewildering intricacies of marketing her book since, after all, without marketing those royalty checks would never arrive.

To her credit, she learned a great deal about self-promotion, particularly utilizing the social networking options which were on the ascendancy. While I struggled to become published, she urged me to consider a MySpace page in order to "pre-market" myself. "Go to my MySpace page," she urged me, "and see how powerful it could be!"

So I went to her MySpace page. And I was appalled. I don't remember much of the details, but it seemed to me there was a lot of sleaze and skank from her followers that had nothing to do with her book. There were ads I would never have approved of and links to questionable websites.

And that was the end of my social network ambitions. That momentary glimpse of my friend's page turned me totally off MySpace.

Since then, of course, MySpace has fizzled but Facebook has boomed. And I'm getting similar pressures from all sorts of people to get "connected," not to mention endless invitations to become someone's "friend." Only this time I can't even view someone's Facebook page unless I, well, join Facebook.

The implication, of course, is that I'm just not hip and happenin' if I'm not "connected" via Facebook, Twitter, etc. I mean, let's face it - it was a big enough hurdle for me to even start a blog! And now you want me to "friend" utter strangers on a social networking site?


I know all my "connected" readers are protesting that it doesn't have to be that way. And I know you're right. My husband, who does have a Facebook page, assures me that all sorts of security measures can be utilized, and I only have to "friend" those who are truly friends. But I'm just not interested.

The biggest reason I'm not anxious to jump on the social network bandwagon is I plain don't have time. For Pete's sake, I have two kids, we homeschool, we have a home business, we have a farm. There's housework to do, music and sports lessons to attend, errands to run. I have columns to write and book stuff to work on. Who the heck has time for all that social network stuff?

But I'll admit I'm reluctant to join the social network craze because it strikes me as just one more step away from really connecting with people through face-to-face conversations or phone calls or even emails.

The reason I enjoy a blog so much is I consider it just an extension of my thought processes. Things I find amusing, tragic, interesting, inspiring, or otherwise worth sharing get posted. In a way you might even say it's a ministry for me. But most of all it's an outlet for stuff I want to get off my chest. I'm a writer, and when someone is a writer they are forever writing - in their mind if nowhere else. The writing that takes place in my head never stops. Literally. I'll be out feeding the cattle and mentally polishing a phrase. I've been known to bring my AlphaSmart into the barn with me while mucking it out, because if I'm working on a topic and sudden inspiration strikes, I have to write it down NOW. My writings and ramblings and rants (like this one) all end up on my blog.


Anyway, my friend Enola Gay recently wrote an excellent piece on how disconnected we are. She says, "As a thoroughly modern people, we have become disconnected. Oh, we are connected to many things - cell phones, ipads, computers, ipods, xbox, television, any number of electronic devises - but we are disconnected from real life." Ironically I read a couple articles this morning which confirms her point.

As social networking matures and comes of age, we find it is counterproductive to the very thing it purports to do - namely, connect people. "Twitter and Facebook don't connect people – they isolate them from reality, say a rising number of academics," notes this article.

As if that isn't bad enough, it's coming out that Facebook and other such media can be detrimental when it comes to job prospects and employment because employers are checking out applicants' social media sites to see what kind of person they're actually hiring. And idiots that they are, people post things on Facebook which, frankly, should never see the light of day. What is it about a Facebook account which causes people to lose all their inhibitions and post photos of them partying and roistering and doing drugs? Don't they think a boss will ever see this?

"A Microsoft-sponsored survey from December 2009 found that 75 percent of U.S. recruiters and human resources professionals say their bosses require them to research job applicants online. Seventy percent report they have rejected candidates after such sleuthing," notes this article.

The article gives an example of an employer deciding which of two highly-qualified candidates should be hired. The employer did an online search for both applicants. "Parsons's online photos caused Shaw to rethink her choice and to grapple with the slippery boundaries between public and private life."

Whether or not this is fair - that is, doing online sleuthing and snooping through a person's private background - it's now a reality. "Before posting information and photographs on Facebook, remember that in the virtual world, our houses are made of glass. Every piece of data is permanent and stored in a digital archive. More than half of employers cite provocative photographs as the biggest factor in the decision not to hire," notes the article.

Now I know there are probably millions of people (including my husband) who have squeaky-clean Facebook pages. Good for them. But I can't see ever becoming one of them. I prefer to keep my modern connections simple - a cell phone that does nothing but send and receive calls, and a blog as an outlet for my overflow writing. That's it.


Our girls don't have cell phones and probably won't until they leave home. (To be fair, neither has expressed an interest in getting one either.) But both are disdainful of the "connected" teens they see around them every day - teens shuffling along, heads bowed over their little machines, texting furiously and not watching where they're going. Teens who are incapable of writing a coherent sentence with proper spelling and punctuation. Teens who can no longer look anyone directly in the eye because it's been so long since they've had a face-to-face conversation with someone. And this is the "real world"?

Now you all must excuse me. It's our turn to host the neighborhood potluck, and I need to get the pork chops with white wine sauce simmering in the crockpot before vacuuming the house. After all, these are our neighbors - not "friends" on Facebook. It's much more fun seeing them face-to-face.

27 comments:

  1. I set up a facebook account about six months ago to reconnect with old friends and acquaintances. To that end I was successful, found a lot of people from my past and was good to see how the long road of life treated them. But The flip side of the coin was not so cherry. Constant malware threat from apps. People trying to gain control of your account. Any 'likes' a name for topics of personal interest brought a bombardment of posts, much like an army of used car salesmen knocking on your cyber door. People you thought were 'friends' bitching about what you post. Prospective employers, competitors and clients troll facebook gleaning any info which could end up biting you in the ass.
    And finally, the folks at facebook selling any personal info to phone and info (spokeo.com) websites which in turn exposed it all to the world. NOT worth the hassle!

    Had Enuff

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  2. I just wanted to also say-I agree with you-I see no reason to Twitter, Facebook, or My Space. I know many people at work who do, and they all tell me that I should too, because it is fun. I always say nope, don't do those things.

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  3. Patrice,

    I've decided that I must be the final holdout of everyone I know. I'm constantly getting invitations to "join" someone on Facebook...or, whatever you call it. You can't believe the number of homeschool mothers I know that have a Facebook page. And, from what I'm told by a mutual friend who's read them, they post things to their pages all throughout the day AND play some idiot game. I can't imagine how much time that must take. And they post everything from the mundane to the personal. I have a quiet time in the late afternoon when we are finished schooling and my housework is done. I usually spend this time preparing dinner so it's hot and ready when my husband gets home. It's during that time that I multi-task by phoning a friend and visiting while we both work. That's when we laugh and visit, comparing silly or crazy moments from the classroom or whatever strikes our fancy. I can't imagine exchanging those chats for words on a screen. As for relatives and friends who live out of town, there's the phone and email...no need to discuss my thoughts or feelings on some page for all of them to read. I'm holding out.

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  4. Facebook has got to be the biggest waste of time. I'm sorry, if I wanted to touch base with people from my past, I would find them the old fashion way. Reconnecting with others!. I also believe Facebook is a trough for drama queens/kings...etc. I really don't care if someone has to go stir their soup before it burns. Get in the kitchen and pay attention to your family! Sorry! Thanks for letting me vent.
    KMC in NC

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  5. I do have a Facebook account, but I got it primarily to see the latest pictures of my grandchildren as they live far away. They were in Phoenix, but are now in a small town in northeast Montana. I also use it to connect with friends and family who don't live nearby. But, I have my privacy setting to "friends only" because I don't want my students, coworkers, or people I don't know to see my profile info.

    Oh, Patrice, how about the recipe for the pork chops in white wine sauce? That sound amazingly yummy.

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  6. My thoughts exactly! I've even been pressured by my 70 year old Mother to join Facebook so we can "stay in touch." (We talk every weekend anyway.) I un-bent enough to do the blog thing but that's as far as it goes.

    BTW...I'm likely the last human being on the planet who DOESN'T own a cell phone

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  7. Well said, Patrice. Everything you wrote could easily apply to me, both in habit and viewpoint.

    My cell phone can take pictures, in case of an emergency, and is only turned on when I leave the place, which is rarely.

    I declined to connect to the internet until two years ago, when it became necessary for our business.

    The benefits have made it worthwhile, although I remain cautious and very selective about the sites I visit, and I post at only a few.

    I still write letters by hand, by choice and as a matter of principle.

    I'm not intimidated by technology, just mostly disinterested. It fascinates me and I'm truly thankful for all the benefits it can bring to so many aspects of our lives, but I prefer the simpler things of life. I grind my coffee with a hand-crank grinder and drive a gorgeous old classic car with no electronic gadgets or computerized components.

    I think when or if the power goes off life will be much less upsetting and difficult for folks like us, who've kept it relatively simple and old fashioned, than it might for folks who are more technology dependent.

    I'm grateful for your reminder that there are still kids in America who live real lives with their eyes on the horizon and not on their cell phones, who speak rather than text, and who can write, make music and think for themselves.

    They are the hope of the future.

    A.McSp

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  8. I think Facebook it a waste of time and space. But LinkedIn is good for for professional profiles. You can also us it as a marketing tool and connecting with others in your field. It is nothing like Facebook as you don't send or post messages or friend people and all of that. I woman I worked with has successfully marketed her book using LinkedIn and it's all very professional. The audience on LinkedIn is professional, not kids, teens and the like. You don't post pics or any of that. Unfortunately I don't think you can see profiles and content unless you have a profile yourself but who to say you can't create a fake email account and profile to check it out?

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  9. The one good use I have found for Facebook is keeping in touch with family living far away, particularly my cousins when they are in Iraq and/or A-stan for months (years) at a time. It makes getting the lists for what they'd like in their care packages quick and easy.
    Other than that, it is mostly a waste of time.
    Xa Lynn

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  10. I admit to a facebook page, but considering I check in less than once a month it really isn't even worth having. I think my last update included info about the birth of my daughter...she's now 7 months old. My husband and I find it disheartening that because we don't text or really use facebook we didn't get first hand info about the birth of a friend's baby until days after it happened. We were just out of the loop! But really, we would rather be in most cases...just not for new babies :)

    And I just read "One Second After" per your suggestion. I cried like a baby towards the end. And it has me scared since we live in a big city. I have skills (and a house full of canned food) but I worry for my babies and for our world if this comes true. We would not be able to protect ourselves or get away and things would be very bad. I enjoyed his writing style and am glad to have read it, but you were not kidding that it is a book that leaves you shaken!

    Heather

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  11. I LOVE Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace, Skype and all the other new colors in the Crayola carton. What? Those aren't new crayon colors? Nevermind!

    Hey, I won't even sign up for a Google Account (for my screen name to automatically appear when I post a comment on somebody's blog). And as far as I'm concerned, a "Smart Phone" is one that won't ring in the movie theater right at the important part of the plot.

    Of course I use technology, but not nearly as much as some of my friends and relatives. And I'm confused about the "need" for Facebook. Can't people merely send an email to a whole bunch of people at once and accomplish the same thing?

    Just some musings from an over-the-hill-and- quickly-slipping-down-the-other-side sexagenarian.


    Anonymous Patriot
    USA

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  12. I was in online pr-ing during the decade when it morphed from websites to MySpace to Twitter to Facebook and blogging (etc etc etc)......I know it flies in current conventional wisdom to not have a presence on all these sites, but what I witnessed was when each new place was added it diluted the original (or one of the other places) with each new addition....In other words, the website got LESS traffic, the Twitter competed with Facebook, and there was so many places to go to with limited subject matter that it was redundancy at the least.....people tended to stick to one of two things, and not have time for ALL of it......

    Granted, you'd never be one to lack subject matter, but just having to make each location interesting would drive a person crazy....and it IS incredibly time consuming.....

    We had something to sell, our situation was a bit different, however if I was a serious writer I'd want my blog to soar and there's not a lot you can say on a Twitter or Facebook page due to limitations on length.....you end up plugging somewhere else, and how many times can you say that in a new and refreshing way?....You'd have a much better chance if you keep doing the "plugs at related sites" thing, like via a forum or people dropping off your link wherever they could, as what happens now.....It is possible to oversaturate yourself, and to get to the point where people don't take the time to follow you EVERYWHERE you are located at......

    I realize it's different with a book to promote, if you get pressured enough about joining all the social networks, consider setting up a page directly attributed to THE BOOK and not yourself or your blog (per se).....then you can use the book as "the person" and keep your personal self free of unwanted "friends" and unwanted annoyances...- - just a consideration if the bugging to conform rhetoric gets annoying.....

    I personally don't have a FB page, because after over a decade of HAVING to be online constantly, I'm enjoying the real world taking up the majority of my time......the days of being chained to a computer are over, wondering where the day disappeared to, or why it's suddenly 6 hours past my bedtime, is a blessed freedom I don't want to lose ever again......

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  13. I post on several forums using the name "Bohica".
    I noticed, when the Walkman first came out, that people who owned them were in a room full of people and at the same time completely isolated from everyone. This was over thirty years ago, and although I could never describe myself as "outgoing and extroverted", I pity these kids who don't know how to interact with humans. Nowadays, these gadget zombies look like the cast of an obscure William Hurt movie, "Until the End of The World".

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  14. I unabashedly admit to having a facebook page. I love being able to send other people messages of encouragement. It also makes it easier for me to find out if someone is in need in my community and I can take them over a pot of soup or a bouquet of flowers and brighten their day. It is simply a tool that can be abused, or used to benefit the world around you. Much like a blog. Many people would say a blog or website is a narcissistic waste of time. I would argue that to be wrong! You have obviously used your blog to impress upon those that read it, a different and a more meaningful life than the norm! I find alot of inspiration here, as well as many other blogs. The same with facebook. I also have received texts from friends saying they are praying for me today, or wondering if I could use some company. That is such a positive use of modern technology. I am thankful to have it, cause that's the day and age we live in!
    Do you not think that every age had their 'new fangled' gadgets and youth turning away from the old ways? No age is different from the last.
    There was disconnect during the Bible times, the pioneer times and now.
    There is a way to live simply, and a way to live extravagantly. To demonize the 'objects' is to ignore the underlying issue. People need acceptance. They need to be loved. If you have to start loving and accepting someone in their 'language' (texting, facebook), isn't that better than making them feel completely unreachable by those that have figured out a more pure and idealistic life?

    I love the idea of living simply, sustainably and connected to your community, but the truth is that most of the world is NOT like that. To be impactful in the world outside of those like minded to you, is to look past their politics, past their upbringing, their education, their issues, their use of technology...etc. People are what matter. Creating a divide between those that think what you think is right, and what 'they' think is right, does not promote positive change. I feel that it encourages the dissension.

    I admit that true sentiment is hard to express through the web. And I'm hopeful that you are simply pointing out the disconnect that you see amongst people, and not intending to shame those that find them selves 'connected' in the tech world.

    My hope is that you, and all who would bother to read this comment, would see that I am not wagging my finger at anyone. I have seen, and have participated in, a topic that encourages others to challenge an issue, turn into a nasty finger pointing session that divides people into opposing teams.

    Thank you, Patrice, for encouraging healthy debate and discussion here. I appreciate that so much!

    Lacey

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  15. Daughter, siblings, and nieces/nephews are constantly after me for not having a Facebook page. My prepaid phone has no purpose other than talking, and it is for MY convenience. I don't give out the number to anybody except immediate family. I'm not a Luddite, I just don't want to be bothered, and I don't think anybody needs to know my every move.

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  16. There are a few things that I could challenge Lacey on, however it's her opinion and if it works for her, that's good.....

    I must say that if you are on a social site and have people you have never met in person that you consider as "friends", then you will be in for a surprise one day......the whole premise of places like Facebook is to "connect without really connecting", to seek out attention for either yourself or for the needs that aren't being met otherwise (in other places), for some ulterior motive.....for the thousands of FB or Twitter pages I've been to (in all types of styles - personal, business, sales) I can't think of one that is up for anyone elses' benefit other than the person who put that page up's interest - including (especially) the sales/donation/club-type pages.....

    It's real easy to sit behind a computer and offer a few minutes of kind words to another stranger, much easier than taking any action.....it's easier to type something without having to look another person in the eye or see their expressions, or hear the emotions in their voice.....it's easy, but is it real?....

    It's not the technology itself that is bad, it's how the humans using it misunderstand what it really does (or doesn't do)......

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  17. Bravo, Patrice, bravo.

    Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, et al ... have not, WILL not. I can't even quite articulate why the whole business makes me so uneasy (a feeling deeper and more fundamental than all of the very legitimate objections listed thus far) but it does. And the longer I resist the better I feel about the choice.

    Jeff/Tucson

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  18. Me and Older Daughter occasionally go to summer camp. Despite being a religious camp, there are still a lot of 'normal' teens there. One of the rules at camp is no electronics or cell phones. You would be surprised at how hard that seems to be for the teens, especially the girls, who absolutely have to text, or they'll die.
    I am, for some reason, pitied, as I don't have a cell phone. Then I make the mistake of admitting I don't have a Facebook, Twitter, or Myspace account. Then I became a bizarre attraction as I was home schooled. Al week, I had people asking me if I 'missed having friends', but the two things that threw people off the most were that I didn't have a cell phone, or -get this- I didn't have a boy friend. But mostly the cell phone.

    I love being weird.

    -Younger Daughter

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  19. Here here! I keep thinking that I need to get a Facebook acct set up, because so many of my online friends quit blogging to FB and that seems to be the only way to keep up, and the same with my family out of state. Then I decided "gosh, who has the TIME to do all that FBking?" I've also got a job, a home to run, pets to raise, and a Husband. It's bad enough I spend so much time reading blogs.

    I'll stay unconnected. There is a reason I haven't connected with my HS buddies. We've all moved on. Well, I have.

    I just don't see the advantage of someone's 4000+ 'friends' having to know one's every move. I mean really? do you really KNOW 4000+ folks?

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  20. @naturegirl

    I agree that having 'friends' you've never met on social networking sites isn't a real way to connect. I personally don't have 'friends' that aren't real friends there.
    But here's a thought... have you met Patrice? No? Have you met me? No. Are we having a conversation here, behind our computer desks? Yes. Than it's possible to interact technically and still feel like you're speaking to a human, but being sure this isn't your ONLY connection is what I think we both are in agreeance on.
    It's all in how you use these things. I don't fault anyone for NOT using or signing up for social networking sites, but I also feel it's important not to make those that DO feel bad for falling into the 'trap'. I think out of Patrice's post, I value that she encourages to maintain TRUE connection. One can still obtain that and still text and FB, or blog.

    Lacey

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  21. Hi Patrice,

    I love this post. I thought I was the only person left who saw no need to participate in social networking sites or even texting.

    By the time I've worked all day at my computer, and then spent a little bit of time checking a few blogs I enjoy, I've had more than enough "screen" time for one day. I can't imagine fitting in Facebook time, too. I'm certainly not willing to sacrifice family time, household/outdoor responsibility time or work time just to "connect" with a bunch of "friends."

    By the way, I am so glad to know that Younger Daughter loves being weird. Good for her! Being "weird" will serve her well, now and in the future!

    Mara :)

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  22. The more I hear you have to be on this thing the less inclined I am to ever do it. Face book and the young billionaire who created it have NO interest to me. May he and his billions live in peace. I don't care.

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  23. My friends with blogs, and my own blog, as well, have all become impoverished during the time when we became (or still are) active on FB. If you become active on FB beware - your blog will never be the same. I am on FB (because unfortunately some groups I belong to tend to use it as a method of communicating about events to the membership) but I see what a time stealer it is. I also see how it affects my brain, so that I tend to write these short, pithy, witty posts of 100 words or less, rather than well thought out, organized blog posts that make me sythesize my thinking and actually SAY something. I'll be honest. I have had to struggle to be less active on FB and more active in blogging.

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  24. One of the stories on Fox News this morning was called "Facebooking for Fraud". It was about how insurance companies are now checking out the Facebook pages of anyone that files a disability claim because people put so much detailed and personal information on Facebook. They are reading what people post about their physical activities and pictures of outings they make, thereby proving they don't suffer from the ailments made in their claims. Positively hysterical!!!!!

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  25. I've only ever owned two cell phones & both were free, simple versions just calling out & receiving. The first one was analog & now completely obselete. The second I've now had for years. I never thought I needed or wanted more.

    However, I've noticed I'm falling behind the technology gap at work in particular. Most everybody else has phones that alert them the second they receive an email message. Whereas, I have to find a free computer & sign on to my email to check mine. As I work at many different sites and various places within them, I don't always get to a computer right away. My boss will comment "i emailed you an hour ago!" or everyone else will respond back to a mass email immediately, scooping up shifts, registering for CE's etc so much quicker than me. I've started to notice the lag behind, with not having an instant personal connection in my pocket. I know I'm going to have to start addressing this soon, and really get a handle on this new technology, whether I want to or not

    ~Clare

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  26. People who hate Facebook really, REALLY hate Facebook. :)

    I'm indifferent. Although in the past couple of months it's actually become a work tool for me. I work from home for a company that employs a lot of home workers. None of us get out much. We feel very isolated. One of us recently discovered that she could make her own little private Facebook - a private FB Group - so that we could interact on line. It's been a real sanity saver. We help each other out with work related issues - it's a super-fast way to get help with question re. work - and also offer tips to one another on being more productive. (We are paid on piece work, so productivity is the name of the game.) Many of us have no real support group and this is filling an important gap for us.

    I will say that I notice in this connected world that if some crisis happens and there is someone who is less connected than the rest, it makes people mad. My sister had this happen a couple of years ago. Someone was ill in the family, and whereas maybe 10 years ago it might have taken 4-5 hours to notify everyone (by phone), this time, when she was out of touch on her cell (had it turned off for church) for one hour, the entire family was in a huge panic. Interesting how our expectations have changed.

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