I have these days where I don't want to go to Facebook. Those days are now getting closer and closer together. Facebook is like the refrigerator on a rainy day. You keep opening it to see if there is anything new or different...but it's the same old boring stuff.
Don't get me wrong. Facebook does have a place in my life. I am able to stay in touch with friends all over the world. I can see new events I might want to attend, and I get news I may or may not want to hear.
The issue I have with Facebook is that people have gotten so rude, and sometimes so mean to each other. It's as though being able to hide behind the screen allows you to virtually smack the face of another person. It's as though the only opinion that counts is your own. This issue is not just Facebook, but social media in general. People are not interfacing.
The act of discussion is being left behind. I now experience people, friends, who are unable to have a conversation. The more people seem to interact with their screens the less they are able to have a two way discussion. This situation is not relegated to only young people, but people of all ages. I find this maddening.
I am not talking about people online, but people you have face time with or even speak to on the telephone. When I returned from my most recent trip, friends asked me how my trip was. I was gone 6 weeks to Spain, Portugal, and Morocco, plus some time in Miami. There were few exceptions either here in Argentina or in the US where my friends listened to me.
They would message me to see if we could get together so they could hear about my trip or call me to see how it was. More often than not I would start to talk about my experiences only to be interrupted by the other person. They would begin to tell me about stuff that was not earth shattering. The cost of vegetables. What their dog or cat did. Something that happened at work. The truth was, they were not really interested in my trip. When I finally asked one friend if they really wanted to hear about my trip he told me "I saw your pictures on Facebook, it looked awesome." In other words flipping through a few pictures on Facebook was enough.
What I notice is that all of these friends either work online or spend an inordinate amount of time online whether it be on their computer screens or telephones. One friend would probably shrivel up and die if his cell phone was stolen. It is never out of his hand, and is usually in front of his face. You sit there like an idiot waiting for him to finish up what is so important..and he never does. "I have so many friends." he tells me. "It's so hard to keep up with all of them." So what am I? Chopped liver?
I have gone on dates with men who spend most of the date WhatsApping their daughters. (First and last date..) Once a fellow started out our date by texting. After what seemed like forever, I finally said to him "You know, you don't have to take me out if you don't want to. (We had met online and this was the second meeting) If you would rather not, it's not a big deal to me. You can just take me home." He looked at me like I was crazy, not understanding. He didn't get it. When I mentioned that he had spent the first 10 minutes on his phone his response was "I have lots of friends." OK, yeah. "Well I have lots of friends too. So should we have a date where you are on your phone chatting with your friends, and I will be on my phone messaging my friends? If so, why am I here?" He didn't get it.
How many times have you been somewhere and noticed groups of people who are together, but on their phones. I don't get it. You decide to get together with a group of friends and you spend that time on your phone??? Doesn't anyone else think that is weird?
I think it's great that articles and studies are now being published warning about how technology impacts the social development of children. Parents in Silicon Valley are now restricting the access to technology from their children. Children need to learn how to have relationships and that will not develop if their main relationship is a tablet or phone. I notice now rather than put kids in front of the TV, a tablet is shoved into their hands. When we went to restaurants or long car rides, my parents gave us books. Children now have tablets with mind numbing games.
Many times when on the bus, it is usual that people are looking at their phones. I include myself in that group. I have the Kindle app on my phone and I read. It is also usual to hear kids screaming at their parents for the parent's phone. Yesterday a woman got on the bus. She was most likely from the north of Argentina or Bolivia and poor. She shepherded her 3 children onto the bus. The two older children who were maybe 7 and 9 sat together. The woman sat with her 3 year old. The two older children pulled out books to read. This was something I had not seen in years. Maybe there is hope.