MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “social networks”

The anti-tech mute

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/13/ea/7a/13ea7a3fc1a0414aa846a48ff7c03be2.jpgHis name was Edison. He had it sculpted on a wooden plaque in his bedroom to remind himself of it.

It was years since he decided to retreat into solitude. At first, he saw it as a challenge, because he realised he was too drawn into the digital life of constant social networking, online media access, useless self-advertising and unabashed self-appreciation. He did not like the person he had become. He was hanging upon the number of likes he would receive on every post he made, on the number of followers his posts would receive, on the number of people who viewed the videos he uploaded. It was as if this invisible click by people he didn’t even know was what kept him alive. So he decided to do something radical about it. He decided to disconnect from everything and everyone. Those who really cared would find a way to contact him. Everyone else did not matter.

For two years, he had devised a lifestyle where his talk was limited to simple daily transactions to meaningless chit-chat with neighbours and co-workers. Everything else, was typed on a laptop.

One day, however, he woke up with a strange feeling. He felt his vocal chords had gone numb. He could not utter a sound. Was it true that you could forget how to talk if you didn’t speak?

He tried to shout, to scream, to say something, to whisper even, but nothing came out. Not even a screech.

He felt all his other senses heightened. As though the lens in his eyes with which he viewed the world had suddenly zoomed in and he witnessed everything in more detail, more clearly and with greater analysis. He began to notice things people did that he failed to see before. The level and tone of voice they used to speak to each other. He could comprehend simply by the sound and intensity of their voices and their body language what these people felt about each other. And he acknowledged that as a people we have become more aggressive, more aggravated, are more stressed and in constant agitation.

When he went home that night, he turned on his laptop, opened a new document and began to type. He may not have been able to speak at the moment, but that in itself made a fantastic theme for his new book: the new-age entrepreneur who became an anti-tech mute. He would find a way to raise a warning about the dangers he saw unfolding. And he would do so the only way he knew how.

The screen that unites us

https://img.clipartfest.com/cff882c695c65e98e3882a6a62ee1d15_-online-chat-clip-art-1-online-chat-clipart_400-400.jpegYou might in essence be talking to a screen, but it’s beyond that: you’re engaging with the people who for some reason or other can’t be physically with you at that moment. The range and evolution of new technology nowadays allows you to contact at any place and any time people who may be situated miles away.

It enables you to share your news, to ask for help, to learn how to do things together – such as cook a meal, bake a cake, or even sew, no matter the distance that physically separates you.

There are some things you just know. And there are some people who can see those things without you really having to say anything. Parents are people like that. People who know when you need help even when you’re not asking for it. People who understand you are not well, no matter how much you try and hide it. People who will reassure you and make you feel better, even when you insist that everything is fine.

And it is at moments like those when you acknowledge the importance and dependence we have on technology and social media. Because if used right, it diminishes the miles and brings you home.

RSVP

http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/wwfeatures/wm/live/624_351/images/live/p0/2k/4q/p02k4qwr.jpgWhen sent a form of communication – be it an email, an SMS, an instant message, a written letter, a pigeon, a Morse code or smoke signals – it is always good manners to respond. Regardless of whether there was a direct question involved.

The same implies for when someone is addressing you with an issue of some sort. Maybe they want your opinion on something, maybe they are asking for your input, or maybe they simply want to share their experience with you. But in all cases, they expect that you will respond in some sort of way.

Otherwise, if you don’t even have the courtesy to nod in acknowledgement that you are registering what they’re saying, it is easy to misunderstand or rather, conclude (either rightly or wrongly), that the other person is simply not interested.

If you care enough, you find the means, the time, and the way to respond.

The French have even globalised a polite abbreviation for it – Répondez S’il Vous Plait (RSVP). OK, you might not really want to respond to something, but it is merely polite to simply acknowledge receipt of the communication and fire up a minimum five-word response. It takes up much more of your time trying to edit a photo to upload on social media, or scrolling through social networking sites.

It is a shame that in the so-called digital era all this technology has in fact made us so anti-social.

Don’t sing too often

http://f.tqn.com/y/buddhism/1/W/B/B/-/-/453331569.jpg

In these contemporary times, where everything is public and in plain sight, there is the prevailing sentiment that everyone wants what’s best for you, as long as it’s not better than what they have. Jealousy is a nasty thing. Envy is even worse.

According to the ancient Greek poet Callimachus, “jealousy is the daughter of self-love and inseparable sister of envy and malice.”

Jealous people are often insecure, feeling inferior towards others, or desiring something that the other has. But jealousy is a negative emotion, transmitting a gloomy aura.

Paulo Coelho says “never hate jealous people. They are jealous because they think you are better than them”. The simple knowledge of this fact should suffice.

But there is something more.

Sometimes we are the ones who provoke this so-called “evil eye”, because we so want to share our good fortune, our happiness and optimism with others. In the era of social networking and continuous (digital) exposure, however, this isn’t exactly the best option.

There is a relevant story on precisely this: once upon a time, there was this little sparrow, who while flying south for the winter froze solid and fell to the ground. And then to make matters worse the cow crapped on him, but the manure was all warm and it defrosted him. So there he is, he’s warm and he’s happy to be alive and he starts to sing. A hungry cat comes along and he clears off the manure and he looks at the little bird and then he eats him. And the moral of the story is this: everyone who craps on you is not necessarily your enemy, and everyone who gets you out of crap is not necessarily your friend, and if you’re warm and happy no matter where you are you should just keep your big mouth shut.

There are some people who draw misery out of the happiness of others. There are those who instead of turning jealousy into a productive impulse to become better themselves, convert it into envy and attempt to darken the lives of others. So perhaps let us rather see how we can make our own souls brighter, stirring from within us the change and improvement we seek, and let’s try to envy others less, as they may be managing to do exactly what we hesitate to act upon.

Living with/in social media

asocial-networkingIn an age where everything is public, everything also inevitably affects us no matter how much we deny it. We are so hooked on our digital existence that we really can’t see to be without it. It is as if we don’t exist unless we document our actions and share it online for the world to see. No matter how trivial or silly these may be.

The problem with social media nowadays is that nothing is truly private anymore. The confines of personal space and data have become blurred. Once information is “out there” it can literally never be retrieved and re-hidden, regardless of how much it is deleted.

We live in a period when our pass-time is spying on one another online. We may never speak in real life, but have the closest virtual connections and know all about one another’s life – or at least the image we each want to portray – solely from what we post online. Fake or real, our lives have been transferred onto a screen, be it big or small. And it is in that, however, that we’ve lost our human emotion in an attempt to gain more communication. The digital evolution has undoubtedly advanced communication through the certainty granted by the distance provided by the screen, and the time allowed to work on the expression of your views; because otherwise we would seemingly drown in all those things that would have been left unsaid. Yet, filling up with words and flagrant demonstrations of actions, we have become void of sentiment. We have lost the ability to talk, to gaze into the other person’s eyes and speak without saying a word. To understand through the tone of their voice, the message of their heartbeat. To comprehend their state of mind, simply by observing their body language. There are so many things that a screen can still not convey.  And it is through this smartphone and digital media addiction, that we have brought upon us the death of conversation, panicking like drug addicts experiencing withdrawal symptoms when we are found without a device in hand. It is a necessary evil of the modern age, but like everything in life, we need to be able to control and take hold of it. Not allow it to be the other way around.

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Panic

Forced smiles, fake laughs

http://www.veneto-explorer.com/images/350xNxeyeswildresized.jpg.pagespeed.ic.KnvlBU8W0z.jpgDo you remember what the last thing you read today was? Or what you were most recently discussing? Do you even recall what the last song you were listening to was?

We are constantly bombarded with so much information, we don’t have time to process it all. We pass our days skimming through texts and articles and by the end, we’ve already forgotten what we were reading about.

The same goes for the discussions we have. We often nod, as if we are paying attention to what our interlocutor is going on about, or as if we even remember what we were even talking about to begin with. Our topics of conversation become superficial and insubstantial. They are interesting enough to keep our attention for a few seconds, and then that distraction kicks in again.

We lose interest too soon. Isn’t that a sign of a society in disintegration? Of a life that becomes so superfluous that it keeps requiring things to keep its adrenaline high?

Do you even remember the last time you really enjoyed something? The last time you literally laughed with your heart? When you got lost in the moment you were living, forgetting about everything else?

We live at a time when we are surrounded by forced smiles and fake laughs. We have become so accustomed of hitting the “like” button online, that this has become a measure of our popularity, as if this is the only thing that matters for our existence.

We live our lives behind a mask, or maybe behind an abundance of them. To the extent that we sometimes don’t remember what it was like to be without one. What it is like to be genuine, carefree, and real.

It’s easy to put on a mask. Taking it off is the hard part.

All muffled up

CacofonixCacofonix is that sweet village bard in the Asterix adventures. The one who considers himself a musical genius and a superb singer, but who often causes people to run away scared or even causes thunderstorms the moment he starts singing. Yet he is angrily offended when people criticize his singing, to the point of dismissing them as barbarians.

It is evident that his name has an association with the word “cacophony” (a harsh discordance of sound), something which is all the more timely now with the rise of social networks giving everyone a voice and an opinion on anything, anywhere at any time. It often resembles a group of dogs barking loudly for no apparent reason. Because sometimes, this is exactly what all this “noise” actually is. Barking.

And it is usually the people who have nothing to say that yell the loudest. The ones who have no right to object a certain way of handling affairs, because they simply don’t have the knowledge, experience or even capacity to do so. And the ones who have no alternatives to offer. It is usually these that shout the loudest and the longest. Wanting something different and fairer to all, which in their language would mean someone else to do their job while they enjoy the benefits.

But with so much “bad reporting” out there, how can you trust in what you read/hear/see? How can you believe the village bard promoting himself as the greatest singer of all times, and missing out that he is actually a tone-deaf peasant? At least with Cacofonix, he is usually tied up and gagged during the banquet at the end of most Asterix and co. episodes to allow the other villagers to have a good time without having his screeching disturb them.

If only things could be as easy in real life too as in a cartoon…

The little you know…

Penguin-ignoranceThey say ignorance is bliss. And sometimes it’s true. Because sometimes, there are things you don’t want to know. That you’d be much better off if you didn’t see. And just sometimes, living in your own (ignorant) little world, may simply keep you happy.

It’s like turning a blind eye to the problem of poverty and illegal immigration, which pushes people to the edge, and eventually to their drowning – like what happened on Thursday 03 October outside the island of Lampedusa, Italy, where over 100 people died in an attempt to flee from African shores into Europe. It’s the belief that if you pretend it’s not there, it never happened, and the problem doesn’t exist.

But the same thing applies to other occasions. For example, dwelling too much on the lives of others as so perfectly publicized on social media networks and getting depressed that your life is far from that. You don’t need to know all that information so openly thrown out there at…well, anyone!

People were much more sociable before the rise of social media. Before you could publicise every second of your life and so desperately try to persuade how insanely perfect and awesome everything is with you. In fact, it seems people were even happier, before the invasion of all these negative effects of technology.

So sometimes, you should close your eyes and ears to things around you, things that bother you and only serve to make you feel worse. There’s no point. Because life is what you make of it. And you don’t need to publish every second of it, to count your likes and comments, in order to feel good about what you do. That simply proves the contrary of exactly what you want to demonstrate. And the absence of self-esteem, to say the least.

Sometimes ignorance is bliss. Because, sometimes the less you know about the troubles of this world, the better you feel about living in it.

Whether this is right or wrong, is up to you to judge…

Where ignorance is bliss, ’tis folly to be wise” – Thomas Gray.

Going in for the news, staying for the gossip

Big-NewsEvery good journalist knows that for a story to be newsworthy it should be interesting, unusual, with an element of novelty and proximity, and above all worth reading. New York Sun editor John B. Bogart best summed this up in one phrase: “When a dog bites a man, that is not news, because it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog, that is news.”

But every media professional knows that for a story to be newsworthy it simply needs to gain the attention of the audience, and…sell. That is why tabloids and gossip magazines tend to have a wider reach than the more “serious” press. Because people after all are more interested in gossip – in the lives of others – and “light” social news, than what goes on around them.

The “real” news is not whether Parliament passed a bill on a tax measure, or whether a civil war broke out in the Middle East; it is rather whether a known celebrity has given birth, or whether an actor got married. As such, the birth of the royal baby on 22 July gained an unprecedented extensive coverage globally, overshadowing the fact that a 6R earthquake in China killed 94 people, or that the conflict in Syria was fueled when rebels seized a northern town in the Aleppo province. Instead of that, millions of people gathered in endless crowds to stand for hours outside a hospital, when news of the birth would come from the palace, and viewers from around the world tuned in to watch the 24 hour coverage of what was dubbed as “news”, but in essence was nothing more than gossip – people of all sorts, simply stating their opinion on camera. The Private Eye was perhaps most satirical (and realistic) about this, stating what was obvious – that a woman had a baby.

But people are interested in news such as this for the mere reason that it involves people who are prominent, celebrities; people who are believed to live a life of luxury and glamour, carefree, and comfortable, getting to do exactly what they want without thinking twice about it. It’s as if these people are part of a different world unbeknown to the common masses that read these gossip columns.

People love to talk about each other. Isn’t that the reason why everyone logs onto social media sites? It’s not to read about the meeting of ministers that took place this afternoon. No. It’s to see who’s dating who, and to get up-to-date with all the latest “hot” pieces of “news”.  It’s what fascinates people. And it is certainly much more fast-paced and ‘enjoyable’ than the usual stalemate and repetition of politics.

It’s the sensationalized stories that sell, the ones that reach out to the humane and curious nature of mankind, the ones that offer a variation to the troubled lives of the masses, and the ones that say something different. Perhaps that is a message the people’s representatives should receive loud and clear (if they care about public life that is, and are not idiots) – that in essence they are not even newsworthy any more.

To Tweet Or Not to Tweet?

The world evolves and so should we. We should progress and keep up with new technnology, new trends and new social developments. Tweet, Like, Share, Follow, are becoming the new language of the day. With applications such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, Tumblr, Foursquare, MySpace, Google+ and many more perhaps less “famous”, flooding the market…it is quite logical that the next generation will talk in code. In hashtags (#), @ signs and abbreviations. Don’t understand any of it? Well you’re not alone! Even people utilising social media have difficulty getting acquainted with the savoir faire of it all! After all it is not a coincidence that so many websites, ebooks, and blogs are filled with how to improve your ‘posting’ skills and how to maximise the social media experience to best accommodate your needs. Even worldwide companies and ‘VIPs’ now utilise social media to keep up to speed with progressing times. Social media is now an important tool in advertising, in electoral campaigns, in news briefs, and generally in everyday situations. Fans soar in millions to Like and Retweet what a celebrity posted on his wall or profile, no matter how insignificant or irrelevant it may be. People often even become obsessed with this new nature of technology that even reading an email often prompts them to go searching for a “Like” button!

Erik Qualman had stated that “the power of social media is it forces necessary change”. But sometimes that change leads to overinformation and certainly over-dependence on digital technology. So much that even when you go out to dinner you just have to log in to the place demonstrating to all your followers and friends where you are; post a picture of what you are doing, and even hashtag it so that it will appear in all other relevant posts! Perhaps it is a consequence of what Aristotle had said, that man is by nature a social animal. What is ironic, however, is that all this tweeting, and posting, and retweeting, and liking etc etc results in people fixed in front of a screen (no matter how large or small that may be) and trying to promote an often fantastic social life to other people who they may not even know and who are doing exactly the same! Social media may lead to progression, and it may certainly enhance communication – making it faster and easier. But even though it facilitates our life, it often makes it more empty. Simply because that is what you’re posting, tweeting, sharing, doesn’t mean that this is what your life is like. Social media give people the opportunity to appear as they want to be. To desperately seek for attention and even receive it. And to apparently live in a digital world with more followers and friends than they could ever really meet! Social media has made the web all about “me”. It focuses on self-promotion and relationship building, thus satisfying the human need for acknowledgement of his/her existence.

But then again, in an interconnected world, it is this very social media that has brought people closer together. That has connected people from all over the world and has enabled the exchange of information and ideas. Yet, as the Ancient Greeks said, all should be used in good measure. There is no need to tweet about every chocolate bar you are eating or every news article you read. There is enough information out there already to keep us busy for years on end. Information is not knowledge. Experiencing life is…

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