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On the level folks, I do use a cellphone – a smart phone even.  But I’m not sure I like it.  I most certainly enjoy the GPS that comes with it, as finding those schools tucked away in suburban hell can be very tricky, even at the best of times.  But, past the land navigation benefits,  I’m not too sure.

Owning a mobile phone is not helping me in my struggle to continue to read widely and with depth in the topics I am interested in.  The false novelty of the facebook feed is much to easy an out, versus intellectually girding oneself for tackling that next book on feminist theory or the ravages of American imperialism.  I read a great deal in my 20’s and have the bookshelves to prove it, but now reading seems on a path that is further and harder away to reach.  I remember my voracious reading days and wonder where that zeal went, and how to restoke that desire for knowledge and perspective of the world.

Facebook is open in the other tab, even as I write this post, offering its usual semi-catered beguilement for my consumption.  It is truly the ‘ghost feast’ we read about in fairy tales – where you can eat and eat and eat and yet slowly starve to death because the scrumptious food being consumed is a insubstantial, desultory facade.

Much of what Dr.Reed says resonates with me, and I thought I’d share a part of his essay here.


“The decisive reason, however, for me to refuse a cellphone is the opposite of everyone else’s reason for having one: I do not want the omnipresent ability to communicate with anyone who is absent. Cellphones put their users constantly on call, constantly available, and as much as that can be liberating or convenient, it can also be an overwhelming burden. The burden comes in the form of feeling an obligation to individuals and events that are physically elsewhere. Anyone who has checked their phone during a face-to-face conversation understands the temptation. And anyone who has been talking to someone who has checked their phone understands what is wrong with it.

Communicating with someone who is not physically present is alienating, forcing the mind to separate from the body. We see this, for example, in the well-known and ubiquitous dangers of texting while driving, but also in more mundane experiences: friends or lovers ignoring each other’s presence in favour of their Facebook feeds; people broadcasting their entertainment, their meals, and their passing thoughts to all who will bear witness; parents capturing their daughter’s ballet performance on their phones rather than watching it live; people walking down the street talking animatedly to themselves who turn out to be apparently healthy people using their Bluetooth.

The cellphone intrudes into the public and private realms, preventing holistic engagement with what is around us. Smartphones only perfect their predecessors’ ability to intrude.

The disembodying and intrusive effects of cellphones have significant implications for our relationships to the self and to others. Truly knowing and understanding others requires patience, risk, empathy, and affection, all of which are inhibited by cell phones. Cellphones also inhibit solitude, self-reflection, and rumination (formerly known as ‘waiting’ and ‘boredom’), which I think are essential for living a good life.”

I guess I get to feel old and snarky today. So be it. I just shake my head when I read articles about people who value ‘sharing’ over ‘privacy’ when it comes to net usage. My cynical weasel whiskers get all twitchy when I read about the sheer awesomeness of social networking. I’ll explain why as we look at the article.

“Two-thirds of 895 technology experts and stakeholders surveyed about the future of the internet believe the millennial generation, born mainly in the 1980s and 1990s, will make online sharing a lifelong habit, suggests a Pew Research Center and Elon University study released Friday.”

Oh fantastic! The generation ahead of me feels all entitled and special enough to think that people actually care about what happens in their pathetically small, atomized existences. I would propose the only time people actually notice your ‘meaningful socially networked discourse’ is when you say something stupid or inappropriate.

Facebooking about the puerile experiences of your life and having them remain on the web for roughly forever just does not seem like a wise decision to me.  Mistakes are learning opportunities, but exist only on facebook for the amusement of others.   On the other hand facebook does serve a somewhat Darwinistic purpose; that of weeding out extra stupid people who get caught for making threats or cyberbullying while on FB or Twitter.  I mean really? Posting threats to someone on your own FB page?  You may as well begin playing in traffic right now.

“There were voices saying privacy is going to appear quaint, it’s completely changed, maybe privacy doesn’t exist anymore,” said Janna Anderson, an associate professor at Elon University School of Communications who led the study. At least one respondent wrote that publicness is becoming a public good. “And keeping information to yourself is going to be seen as antisocial.… There were a lot of people saying sharing is the new normal.”

“Sharing is the new normal”, indeed!  The intense need for self-gratification seems to be winning out on any sort of rational view of this phenomena.   Instead of actually doing something worthwhile you get your needs for acceptance filled by the number of facebook ‘friends’ you have?

“Young people enjoy the feeling of being connected and feel sharing benefits their personal lives, Anderson added. “They understand that there are negatives, but they believe that the upside is dominant.”

Young people are also stupid.  They lack the experience and discipline needed to make rational decisions about relatively simple life decisions, nevermind the complexities of social sharing on the Internet.

Have the techno-youth really considered why it is so darn easy to get up and running in the various social networking sites?  Why is that?  Social networking is the advertisers wet dream.  You have peoples private information and various applications and ‘fun surveys’ that collect information about an individuals likes and dislikes.  By social networking you are essentially doing the leg work for advertisers as you data-mine yourself for free, plus you have no control over who gets to see your information once its out there.  In Canada this has been addressed to a limited extent by the Privacy Commissioner, but I guarantee that the practice is still rampant.  How else do you pay for the servers and the bandwidth to keep the FB servers operational?

“Many of those surveyed said new social norms are emerging that reward disclosure among young people, said Lee Rainie, director of the Internet & American Life Project, in a statement.

“Some experts also expressed hope that society will be more forgiving of those whose youthful mistakes are on display in social media such as Facebook picture albums or YouTube videos,” he added.”

Is that not a nice hope?  ‘Society will be more forgiving of youthful mistakes…’.  That is certainly not the case if you wish to run for public office.  So naive experts whinge for a more naive society.  Perfect.  Anything (anything) you put on the web is fair game.  Assume your scribblings will be used against you in the worst possible light devoid of context, to smear and sully your reputation or job application or whatever as IPIP (important people in power) will google you to see if you have indeed made an asshat of yourself on the Internet.

You would think the international laughter echoing through the halls directed at poor befuddled Pakistan would been a large enough hint for other countries to avoid looking foolish.  I was wrong.

Bangladesh has blocked social networking website Facebook over caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad and “obnoxious” images of the Muslim-majority country’s leaders, officials say.”

Take that! We will take down facebook to preserve the honour of our omnipotent sky-daddy who is all powerful and all kno… wait… Apparently ‘Mo can’t do squat to a measly collection electronic of 0’s and 1’s on a facebook page.  Perhaps the Mighty GOD of ISLAM is all powerful except when it comes to facebook (reasonable actually, even Superman had his Kryptonite) .

“The Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC) said the site was blocked on Saturday because cartoons of the Prophet “hurt the religious sentiments of the country’s Muslim population”.

“Some links in the site also contained obnoxious images of our leaders, including the father of the nation, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman; current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, and the leader of the opposition,” Hasan Mahmud Delwar, BTRC’s acting chairman, told the AFP news agency.

The move comes a week after Pakistani authorities banned access to Facebook for similar reasons. They also blocked the video website YouTube and 1,200 web pages over a row about “blasphemous” content on the internet.

Muslims regard depictions of the prophet, even favourable ones, as blasphemous.

Delwar said Facebook would be re-opened once Bangladesh had permanently blocked the offending pages.”

Not to write the same story, but wow guys, do your really think blocking facebook is going to save your pathetic delusion of a religion from the forces of rationality?

“Drawing caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad is an attack on Islam and is extremely humiliating for Islam,” Hemayet Uddin, a Dhaka protest organiser, told thousands of cheering supporters.

You know what?  Good.  Show your opposition to Freedom and Reason.  Show us how your particular religious delusion treats reasonable criticism.  I say: Good for free speech, good for rationality, good for all the people who possess enough intellectual capacity to see your religion for what it is: a ludicrous, mendacious fantasy that ultimately hurts and impoverishes your society.  Feel free to ignore modernity and progress.   Happily flush your society down the batshite-crazy-swirly commode known as religion, just do not be surprised when we laugh at you.

Underage? Mo' says: "It's a go!" I'm holy after all!

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