Social media electronic devices are turning users into a society of robots. When I last walked across the Brigham Young University campus a few years after I retired, the first thing I noticed was that everyone was wired to earbuds and to the umbilical cord of a smart phone. When people get together, they instantly get out their iPads, smart phones, or whatever, and begin texting away and answering calls. In grocery stores, people are yapping on phones and texting instead of looking where they are going. The instant people leave where ever they are, they immediately flip out the cell phone and begin yapping. People in waiting rooms deluge us with all of their personal junk. Unfortunately, too many people yap and text away while driving, thus killing either themselves or someone else from their passionate stupidity.
First came the cell phone, freeing us from finding a phone booth in the dark in a dangerous area when we had an emergency. The computer was already there, enabling instant communication anywhere in the world. Then came the social media. FaceBook enabled us to be in touch with the trivia and details of daily life of an infinite number of "friends." Twitter let us vent our innermost wisdom in 140 characters or less. Texting taught a generation of five year olds how to twiddle their thumbs and send messages. Hand written junior high love notes no longer are necessary since the kiddies are twiddling their thumbs with juvenile passionate messages night and day to all of their romantic attachments. The iPad became the official nanny of toddlers with, incidentally, the side benefit that little urchins are teaching themselves arithmetic and reading before they are out of diapers.
Then comes Pinterest like a bat out of you know where. I must admit, I love Pinterest. I have found more useful information on Pinterest more quickly than I ever found on Google, FaceBook, and Twitter combined. I discovered that, as a male, I am one of the 20% minority, the other 80% being sweet young things Pinteresting about their weddings, home decor, doilies, and such. But I can look up a recipe faster on Pinterest than anywhere else, and I can find how-to-do-it stuff for about anything that I should have been born knowing how to do but never learned. The only problem is that once you get started on Pinterest, you can never get out of it. You are doomed to stay there forever.
I nearly abandoned FaceBook until I discovered that I could link to a whole bunch of historical photo blogs and sources so that each day I get my fix of ancient architecture, buildings, abandoned ghost towns, and the like. Besides, FaceBook is the only way that I can keep up with what all of our extended family is doing. I mostly gave up on Twitter. Too much of Twitter is a bunch of hash tags or inside jokes or cryptic messages known only to those already initiated in the lingo of the Twitterer.
As a result, the rules of penmanship, which we so assiduously learned in first grade, no longer apply. The main requirement now is to learn what LOL stands for along with all of the other preferred shorthand texting symbols and shortcuts. As a result, we can no longer write. Since we remain glued to our phones and pads and whatever else, we hardly even know how to talk to each other. When I went away to college, it took a week for my letter to arrive back home to let my family know I had arrived in Laramie, WY safely. Now some college kids don't even cut the umbilical cord, staying in touch with mommie hour by hour and minute by minute, thus delaying the wonderful growing-up pains and process.
I'm not sure how comforting or helpful an overload of addictive social media absorption is. Maybe we would be better off if we would shut the dang things up and smile at each other, acknowledge a stranger, help someone who needs help, carry on a conversation, and act like we care more about those in our vicinity than we do about twiddling our thumbs with LOLs. Maybe we just need to tell the person next to us, verbally and vocally, that we love them. Otherwise, heaven help us if we get out of Wi-fi or cell phone range, or our batteries die, and we have to, heaven forbid, speak, write in long hand, laugh, or otherwise abandon our robot addiction and rejoin the real world. Whatever. The purpose of the Curmudgeonly Professor is to rant and rave. Have a nice day. LOL.