A Pointless Waste of Time

The old canards just wear new clothes.

“Sure, I have a tee vee, but I don’t watch it much. Public television, educational shows, really.” (Translation: “American Idol, The Biggest Loser, Glee, The Office, for starters.”)

“The cell phone – God, I hate it. But it’s good to have in case of emergencies.” (“I’ve never had an emergency involving the cell phone, unless you count that accident I almost caused when I was talking to my sister while I was driving.”)

“It’s almost noon and I haven’t showered yet. It’s not easy being a new parent.”
(“This is, however, my fourth facebook post of the day.”)

So many (most?) of our “labor-saving devices” don’t save labor. They merely dissolve our minds and divide our time into small segments that disappear before we know it. It’s the M&M theory. (Not you, Marshall.)

If I’m asked to sit and eat a pound of chocolate, I’ll turn away in disgust. If a one-pound bowl of M&Ms were placed beside me, they’d be gone in no time. Whether this is deliberate marketing strategy (as in the case of the candy) or just happenstance, the result is the same. Each of my gizmos steals a minute here and one there and I wind up rushing to meet deadlines (like this one).

The tee vee is gone, killed by a syndicate of bad programming, cable and the switch to high definition. The low-def device is still there, occasionally used for viewing DVDs. The cell phone is, unfortunately, a little electronic god of which I cannot seem to rid myself. Facebook, as of today, is gone.

I joined two (three?) years ago, at the request of a colleague, who told me facebook was a great new tool for political organizing. It’s not. As far as I can see, the only successful facebook campaign resulted in Betty White hosting Saturday Night Live. I CAN attest that attempts at facebook political organizing have and do waste countless hours that should have been dedicated to real political organizing.

What’s wrong with email? Spam, I guess. It became hard for people to discern between the valuable and the crap and from some of the emails that get forwarded to me; I can see some folks make no attempt.

I’ve seen no such problem with facebook. It’s all crap. Maybe that’s unfair. I never post and almost never see my own page, except for the three or four times a week when someone “friends” me. (I have no idea who some of these people are.) While I’ve been happy to oblige most of you, very few seem to want to have an actual relationship with me. I suspect you’re just playing a numbers game I have no desire to be part of.

And there is a ton of political stuff on facebook, at least among the people who’ve friended me, but I don’t see how any of it has gone beyond the facebook echo chamber.

Maybe it’s me; maybe I’m a fossil of my generation. Maybe some people get their news this way and it works for them. I dunno. The dark side I see of this is people (teenagers, yes but older folks too) subordinating real encounters for pseudoencounters, isolated and alone, late at night, keying away.

Anyhow, when I thought, “I can shed a facebook,” my heart lifted way more than it did when I thought of signing up.

To those last two guys to friend me: It wasn’t you, I swear.

Goodbye, cruel facebook. See you all on Earth.

© Mark Floegel, 2010

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