I just read an interesting book, Digital Vertigo, about the way the world has become/is heading. Basically, it is about social media and connectivity. The book predicts that everyone on the planet will be connected, somehow, in the future. If still alive, someone will have to place a gun to my head...
First conclusion: I am glad that I am retired! That is not my world. I use the internet (which supposedly will be replaced by social media), but do not want to join Facebook, Twitter, or their ilk (proliferation seems to be a potential problem). I am amazed at how much information people willingly make available to everyone. Aristotle, Konrad Lorenz, and others stated that “man is a social being”. All failed to reckon with the likes of people like me!
Next, I thought of the famous Apple commercial from the 80s, in which they portrayed IBM as Big Brother. I find it ironic, since Apple has taken over the role of Big Brother, because they “control/can spy on” anyone that purchases one of their products. This difference is that the drones the audience of today, as opposed to the actors in the IBM commercial audience, all volunteer to be watched.
Next, if everyone is connected everyone else on the planet, how many of those people will they actually know? The current definition of friend will no longer apply. I recall speaking with Russians, after the fall of the Soviet Union. They told me that a “friend” was someone you could trust with your life...because lives were lost and prisons filled because of non-friends. Connectivity cannot mean trust. I thought of a crowded London subway car, where people play with iPads, smart phones, etc. Many might be "connected" by some social media site, but are unaware to each other's proximity and actual existence. All remain mere "faces in a crowd", despite being connected. To me, this is "faux social".
Finally, I have another question. If connectivity means that people will “never be alone again”, what about jobs, salary, food...survival, which is the other (negative) trend of the future? I doubt that social media can solve society’s problems, nor do those companies want to. People running these businesses seem to be interested only in the money. If you read the book, you will notice how many times the author uses the term “multiple billionaire”.
After this brief foray into the real world, I will happily return to fiction...
I guess that the official verdict has fallen: I’m a psychopath.
I do not use Facebook or Twitter or other “social media” (although a friend convinced of the need to be on Linkedin, which has proved unfounded). I see no need to trawl the internet for “friends”. I have contact with those with which I want to interact and/or communicate. I do not need to post news about my life and personal photos for snoopers.
A blog is different: that’s for ranting, as well as pointing out life’s absurdities and points of interest. Private aspects of my life receive little attention, because they are uninteresting and none of anyone’s damn business.
So, in the eyes of the world, I will remain a psychopath. But, do not fear: I do not own a gun, have no intention of obtaining one, would not know where to look in a country that lacks such “freedom”, do not attend high school or college, do not visit late-night movie premiers, and have no need to “go postal”.
I noticed the following headline in today’s Guardian (I did not read the article), which sparked a thought.
“How Twitter is putting an end to our private lives”
The advent of social media sites is not unlike farmers and settlers moving into what was formerly the frontier. They erected fences, built towns, and instituted rules and regulations. People were watched, criticized and compelled to conform. Many former free spirits were forced deeper into the wilderness...until little was left. This explains, in a broad generalization, the appeal of states like Montana (for right-wingers) and Oregon (for more-liberal souls).
Today, one cannot move deeper into the wilderness, but one can chose not to join “civilization”. I have read that social networks provide a good means of promoting one’s books, but the price is too high for someone valuing privacy and anonymity. If I had lived in the Old West, I would have moved on...
Yesterday, I discovered that I'm a zero. At least I assume I am (or rather hope I am).
I read an article about Klout, a name I had heard and knew nothing about.
Because I do not partake of the pleasures of social media, I must not be on their radar screen or search engine or whatever magic they use to find, evaluate, classify, and upset (anyone with a big ego and low score) people.
Perhaps, I could raise awareness for my collection of best-kept-secrets of American “literature”, but do not crave notoriety or riches. I certainly do not need some algorithm to take notice and rate me any higher than zero. I have never lusted after clout, so have no need for Klout.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.