Short Minded: The Best Intentions

I’m starting to notice that our short attention spans and need for instant gratification has affected more than just are social interactions. During college and after, I began to meet plenty of well intentioned people who wanted to “change the world”. Yes, I am all for helping those who can’t help themselves, but with that we have to realize why they can’t help themselves in the first place. Our “we want it now” mentality has given us a short sight when it comes to hard work and why things are the way they are.

There are laws in place that counter act a good natured individual. Giving food to the hungry can sometimes lead to lawsuits due to food bourn illness, So do we blame the restaurants for protecting their ass, or do we go after the laws and legislation that stop us from doing what we all know is right? Well in the 60’s we would have been writing letters to our congressmen and picketing. Today, we put up a facebook status and blame Chili’s for being wasteful. We get made at folks for complaining about the heat when there are troops overseas in a desert but then we want the right to complain about our issues. Screw the cake, we want the bakery. We have the world in our palms but we barely reach with our fingertips.

Nothing worth having comes easy, and it gets harder when fighting a battle for those who can’t. Our collective hearts are in the right place, but we don’t use our minds and resources enough to truly make the difference that we want. If a fight wasn’t hard it’d be a discussion, and we have gotten too used to being given things right away. Progress takes time and patience, and often a little aggression. We can’t forget how hard people are willing to fight to keep things the same. Then again I’m human and prone to being wrong

31: Greetings From the World of Tomorrow, Hope You Have Wi-Fi

Well a new social networking tool has arrived. Google+ is the current “rage” and topic among the internet crowd. Some are saying it will overtake Facebook as the primary social networking site, while others are saying it will die a fighter’s death at the feet of the 750 million member (worldwide) giant. All of this is exciting to watch from a tech nerd standpoint, and variety is nice, but it’s hard not to realize that this site along with others like it has made its simplicity, use of categorization and filtering to basically do our thinking for us. In the dark ages we had to pick and choose what we were exposed to in one way or another, now a few clicks of the mouse and we never have to be bothered again by things we currently have no interest in. But what about when our interests change, or when new ideas and thoughts are shared? Resetting the filter isn’t as easy as you think since, and we are all too happy to live in out our funneled dreams in the house we built.

“There’s always a reason to do stuff for no reason”, it’s a phrase that I made up, that I live by, and will probably die as a result of. To me, life is something that you live and experience, not get through. Now, this somewhat deep philosophical open may seem out of place in a SoM about cyber filtering, but it goes hand in hand. In my humble opinion, one of the best things in life is discovery; the serendipitous moments in life where you just stumble upon new things. We have begun the groundwork for letting our machines do the discovery for us. Right now, you can group your friends, family, people you kinda know, and people you just want to follow. It’s a great way to filter out the “useless” information that the people you let in your lives spit out. Delegating who or what you allow to cross your virtual desk so that everything isn’t bombarding you. Everything you like, nothing you don’t all at your fingertips thanks to some machine crunching numbers. So much of your thinking is done for you that your cellphone will soon be able to ignore calls for you based on the time of day and who the person is calling. We have become puppets of our own creation. I never want to be so stuck in my now, my present state of thinking that I no longer allow the chance for something new to enter. Whether it is some random band recommendation from an advertisement or a friend posting comments about their views on salary caps in the NBA. I want to be able to learn or decide not to acknowledge these things. I want to be able to grow as a person from the decisions I make. We are slowly but surely taking away our free will in this regard. Making sure that decisions are almost mistake proof because they have already made it through our digital screening process, and there is little risk that we won’t approve of the options before us. Anything or anyone slip through the defenses, and we mark our friends as spam. Never to be seen or heard from again.

Part of it may be an issue of time. Our time is valuable. Most of us work jobs where dollar an hour is how we delegate importance; our time literally is our money. So if you can’t say or do it in a matter of moments then it’s not worth doing. This has severely limited our interactions with others. Planning a trip to the movies with friends could become one of the most stressful acts you do in a day if one person doesn’t respond quickly enough to a text. We don’t want to take the time to sift through the crap ourselves, or do the legwork that comes with our social interactions, so why not let your computer do it for you. Mostly because you leave yourself open to miscommunications and errors of judgment behind the anonymous glow of a screen. We end up blaming our machines when we make mistakes. On a small scale we blame out iPhones for autocorrecting things for us, but let spell check not work before we have a paper or presentation due. We don’t blame ourselves, but the machines. You accidentally click a spam email or open a virus and it’s the computers fault not your own lapse in judgment. We are almost to the stage where we no longer have to hold ourselves accountable online because the computers will do it all for us. All we’ll have to do is sit down, login and tune out. The wave of the future involves a lot of comfy chairs and open browser tabs.

I know this comes off a little heavy handed, and almost as some prophetic rise of the machines sort of thing, but it’s really more a decline of human interaction. Again going back to discovery, I wouldn’t have seen my favorite movie if it weren’t for taking a chance on something. I watch Pulp Fiction for the first time on an old VHS tape with the title smudged out and in between a movie I knew I wanted to watch and a movie I’d seen a dozen times before. It was because of those two certainties that I took a chance on something else. I guess it’s my natural tendency to look at the safe route as a backup plan more than the way I should do something. People, for the most part operate in the opposite manner. Why take the chance if you know one way will work for sure? And for the most part, this way of thinking has kept us alive, but when it comes to interacting with those we already call friends it limits us. It changes the way we speak and act. The unspoken hierarchy that usually runs through social interaction has been given a name. In the old MySpace days, it was the Top 8, on facebook it’s your groupings and those you see at the top of your chat list, on Google+ it’s your circles. Again, in theory this is perfect for keeping connections in order, but along with those social limitations, you now limit what those people can bring to you. Yes, we all know dumb asses wHO tiipe liKe diss or sprout ignorance on such a regular basis you’d think their rights to free speech should be revoked for fear of infecting others, but just because you can shut some people out of your life doesn’t mean that you should make it a common practice.

I hope I’m wrong, and that humanity will win out in the end. People still taking chances on ideas and other people even though it’s possible to live in their bubble in such an ignorant bliss that they need not experience anything new because everything they already know and love is right in front of them 24/7. I’m not saying treat every person like some sort of scholar or your closest friend, but to realize that anyone at anytime can bring something positive into your life. Whether it be a movie suggestion or a song from a band you’d otherwise never hear if you keep all of your virtual roadblocks up. My State of Mined is “New, Old Fashioned”.  I’ll continue to be open to things and live my life online the same way I do off; taking in new ideas and people as they come and filtering them myself. No machine could ever be me better than I can, so why give it the chance. That’s how the robots take over in pretty much every Sci-Fi movie. The computers realize they’re doing all for us anyway, so they just cut out the middle man. Don’t let digital convenience make you the middle man in your own life.

Carpe Diem Kids

Sorry for the delay…