Apologizers and the proudly ignorant

Posted on April 1, 2014
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There are two kinds of people who don’t use computers, the internet or social media.

The first kind is, I think, wrong but doesn’t bother me.

People in this group sound apologetic for not using computers or using email or social media. They are, for the most part, unfamiliar with the tools, search, email, photo sharing, music, research, news, connections to friends etc.

This group is continually diminishing in number. Seniors are among the most active users of computers and the internet.

For one thing, they have the time. For another, they are actively pursuing interests like travel, grandchildren activities, investments, medical conditions, and hobbies they had little or no time for when they were working.

People who don’t usually are too busy doing other things that are important or interesting to them.

I don’t see why these people should feel apologetic for not wanting to join our reindeer games. I think the cyber world has a lot to offer them but it is their choice.

There is another group that tends to sneer at all information technology users. What set this column off was another column in which the writer invokes the most  common, trite, banal and condescending comment on social media.

Commenting on Facebook friends, he wrote, “I am less than enthusiastic about knowing what they had for breakfast or every thought that popped into their minds this morning”.

A pompous ass like that irritates me. I really don’t like him insulting my friends, which is what he is doing. My friends share brilliant wit, wisdom, recipes, tips, commentaries on the issues of the day and calls to action. My circle of friends are like an international coffee club with members who have ideas, experiences and warnings to share.

Yes, the newbies share the same jokes and videos we all did when we were newbies, some that were around during the great wars. Yes, there are many of kittens and puppies. Some are compelled to relay everything they have seen or heard that day. Some of them do pass along many totally unfounded rumours or scandals or government policies that simply don’t exist.

However, so do people in coffee shops, bars, phone conversations and anywhere humans interact. A big difference with computer and social media is that you can opt in and out at your convenience and preference. You just skip over the ones that are, to you trivia or boring. You can also comment or not when you want to not when the other person finishes a message.

As a matter of fact, many people now practise the courtesy of using email or social media to make a date for a phone call or video conversation rather than intrude with an unscheduled call.

My friends are all over the world and doing and discovering  fascinating things. If there is a problem with this daily world-wide conversation, it is that they are too fascinating. I have to ration my time seeing what they are up to. A conversation with one of them, tends to turn into a marathon of music sharing.

I also talk too much. Every story or idea you relate reminds me of another someone else, often I, have had. I’ve had lifelong difficulty listening without talking. In a face-to-face group, this can be tiresome indeed for my victims. On social media they can just tune me out without my ever even knowing.

I also form strong connections with people I’ve never actually met on the internet. I believe the person you meet on the internet is at least as genuine and probably much more so, than the person you meet in a bar or many social situations where people may have motives beyond the exchange of ideas or interests.

Finally, the internet and social media open the world to many lonely or remote people. I think of kids in the backwoods of New Brunswick who can go to the websites of the great art galleries of the world and comment back and forth with others visiting the same site.

The internet also makes it harder to brainwash young people into one point of view. Just as travel broadens the mind so does communication. It is always a threat to the powerful.

Yes, many kids are talking about the most inconsequential things but now they have options. Even the ones who are just chatting as we used to do on the Post Office steps or library lawn are engaged in an essential process. I never owned a paper where someone didn’t write a letter about kids just hanging out.

“Don’t they have anything better to do  . . . . . ,” appeared in every such letter. Of course they don’t. Hanging around with your contemporaries and learning how to talk to members of the opposite sex is an essential part of growing up.

Yes, there are evil people preying on victims on the internet. They are everywhere. At the same time, I think young people today are smarter and better prepared to deal with danger than my generation was. All we knew about sex was don’t. Kids today face a far more complex world with far more knowledge.

When I dove into the internet in the early 1980s, when I was about 40, my technophobe mother thought it was evil. “There are pedophiles who lurk there looking for victims,” she said. She was a bit chagrined when I told the family she was afraid the pedophiles would get me.

Kids today are far smarter than I was. When I was 13, I didn’t know there were such things as pedophiles.

I must confess there is a group of mostly women who are dangerous to me on the internet. One of them is my own cousin, a devout Christian, perfectly charming, kind who wouldn’t appear capable of doing harm to anyone. You wouldn’t realize what a danger she is until you see her Facebook posts. I gain weight just seeing the pictures of her culinary triumphs.

Even with all the benefits of the cyber world, if you don’t want to participate that is fine.

Just don’t tell me that my friends and I are are just talking about what we had for breakfast. We talk about lunch and dinner too.

On we go! DAC



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