Nose in Books, Eyes on the Screen

So what’s really wrong with walking around with your eyes on your mobile phones while passerbys navigate their way around you?  More dangerous is the practice of driving while texting in terms of disregard for your own safety and that of others.  In the past the only similar practice I can recall that was seen as more of an anti-social behavior than a hazard to your own safety and others was keeping your “nose in a book.”  But I don’t recall seeing many people driving while reading an old-fashioned “hardbound” or paperback text.  At least I don’t think there were many car collisions attributed to people reading paperbacks while driving.

More disconcerting or hazardous (at least to me) are the anti-social implications of keeping your head down at social gatherings and not meeting or conversing with old friends and new acquaintances.  Being online there are always friends and family you can chose to be connected with and never be “out of touch.”  While you may chose to never have your head “in the clouds” again, you may also find yourself trapped in the world of social media to the detriment of having a real time “social life.”  I know I am portraying the extremes of a social media obsession, and that my observations are not scientifically based, but please take a look at your own social media life.  There may also be a generational gap here, and a personal preference for what constitutes a broader social life.  It still remains your own personal choice in terms of what “worlds” we chose to habitate and to what degree.

So now let’s look up and smell and see the roses!

Ray Myers


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Will the Internet Make Us Smarter and More Social?

Some people really seem to think that it will do all these things.  I have my doubts as you may have guessed.  Kenneth Goldsmith at the Univeraity of Pennsylvania proposes that it really will make us smarter and more social.  How does he know?  He is the father of a 10-year-old and a 17-year old and they seem to be doing fine.  He surmises that we just find news ways to express things?  So all these new ways are judged to be just as effective, if not better, than the more traditional ways we have always employed.

Now he is a father and a college professor.  I am a grandfather and a former college professor (and a retired federal bureaucrat).  I just don’t see students becoming intrinsically smarter because they use the Internet, and I am very concerned that they may becoming less social in the process.  Please believe me that I know the Internet is one of the most powerful learning tools we now have.  But I believe, unlike Professor Goldsmith, that “basic human qualities” may have been changed by the Internet, and that we have to be aware of its impact in our daily lives, and keep in touch with our growth as compassionate human beings.

I hope that I am not being too sanctimonious in saying all this, but our lives still require some reflection or analysis 0f what and why we are doing what we do.  I just don’t think we can find all those answers on the Internet.

Ray Myers

P.S.
Last week a new book was published on Amazon as well as other online book publishing formats. I authored one of the essays in this book: “Changed During the Sixties.” The book’s title is “Turning Points: Discovering Meaning and Passion in Turbulent Times.” I hope you will enjoy reading these essays about personal and professional transitions made during this time.

P.P.S.

During the remainder of August, I will only be posting commentary on Mondays.  I will be “resting” on Labor Day, but will resume my posts on a regular M-W-F basis on September 12.

Live Free or Die – Internet Freedom in Vietnam!

Well the slogan comes from New Hamshire, U.S.A., but we could just as well be talking about Vietnam, and their pursuit of Internet connectivity that would exceed their Asian neighbors.  Let’s just say they are trying to set the record straight after there were some “unkind” reports around Obama’s recent visit by several foreign news outlets that Vietnam “restricted” access to the widely-popular Facebook social network during the visit.  To make matters worse, the Vietnam News reports that “Some reactionaries and dissidents .   .  . posted this ill-intentioned information on their personal blogs.”  Not a good idea!

Now here is what the News reports:  “Compared to 2000, the number of Internet users in Vietnam has soared 200-fold.”  They now have 45.5 million Internet-users or 48 per cent of the population, ranking sixth in Asia, behind China (674 million), India (354 million), Japan (114.9 million), Indonesia (73 million) and the Philippines (47.1 million).  They    proudly add that they are “also among the top countries in terms of Facebook user growth, not to mention other information channels.”  Furthermore, Vietnam’s growth in this area “prove the Vietnamese Party and State’s consistent viewpoint of ensuring press and Internet freedom.”

So there you have it.  Vietnam is open for business and social networking on the Internet, and they’re proud of it.  Just don’t believe all of those “unkind” reports by some foreign news outlets.

Ray Myers

Hanoi

Love Online – Modern Romance Part Two

People don’t lie online and online dating is not dangerous.  Well, not exactly, at least in terms of the lying part.  Seems that both men and women like to add a couple inches to their height.  I can relate to that in some ways since it seems that I have lost an inch or more as I get older.  My wife does remind me to stand up straighter so that I can regain that youthful posture, and not look like I’m seventy something.

Now I have read that online dating is not dangerous when compared with meeting people at bars or parties.  Since online dating allows people to browse possible partners from their own homes, it is clearly more efficient and less “random” than meeting someone at a bar or party.  At the same time, it seems that most single “twenty somethings” are now doing more socializing at local bars or Starbucks than going to parties hosted by friends or neighbors (see my blog of 9/21, Party Like Your Parents Did or Not?).  Online just seems to be a safer, and more “controlled”, place.

So whatever your dating preferences may be, it seems that first impressions and appearances still do matter.  When one of the leading online dating sites temporarily turned off personal pictures of their users (blind dating app), most their online searchers were not happy.  In the words of one of their executives, “so we turned the photos back on, giving people the dating experience they wanted: superficial, skin-deep and probably worse.”

Ray Myers


Love Online – Modern Romance Part One

This will be a two-part blog since the subject is so intriguing (at least for an old guy like me), and there are so many ways of interpreting what it all means in terms of “love and marriage.”  In all fairness, we are just talking about online dating, but we all know what usually happens when someone finds the “one” however that might happen.  It seems that online dating may just be a flirtation itself, but it really does offer some “search” options that were not available before Al Gore discovered the Internet (maybe it was somebody else?)

Some researchers have gained the title of being “experts” in this area, and I certainly do not claim to be one.  But for purpose of today’s posting and the one that will follow on Friday, I am going to take their word for it.  Here are today’s three “findings:” (1)  very few men over 30 actually reach out to 20 year old women; (2) online dating has made it easier for those seeking long term commitments to find each other; and (3) a person’s attractiveness had no correlation with how well the date went.  Okay, here are my very unscientific, impulsive reactions to these findings in numerical order: (1) really?; (2) really?; and (3) really?

Well, I still have a couple more findings to ponder before I post anything on Friday, so please give me a couple more days to think about this.  Maybe by then I will have developed a deeper appreciation of why “40 million Americans are looking for love on the web.”  And they all can thank Al Gore (I think?).

Ray Myers

 

Social Media for Seniors in Times of Need

Many people may feel that the youthful obsession with social media is excluding our seniors who may be increasingly isolated in their own homes or in some restrictive elder care facility. It now seems that social media itself may be the the most viable virtual link for family members and friends to stay in touch. In may in fact repreent the most readily accessible nurturing and caring community path at our seniors ever had.

I am not sure that Facebook foresaw how their social network would so readily become the communication tool of choice for so many elderly citizens. Blogging also seems to be a popular venue for seniors who may prefer a different method of communicating. In any event, some of tyhese social media platforms have also become resounding financial success by taking advertising, or by eventually selling their sites to online businesses with a substantial senior clientele.

This creative use of social media certainly gives new meaning to the old adage of “never too old to learn,” or maybe it should be “learn new tricks!”

Ray Myers