Thank goodness, my generation didn’t grow up with Social Media options like Facebook or Twitter. We pioneered social activities via the computer with the AOL “Chat Rooms” in the ’90s, but dial-up modems anchored you to a desk in your basement and relegated you to the wee hours of the morning when no one else was using the phone. What fun was that?
We had about as much fun as any generation could, but I wouldn’t want someone publicly posting a historical record of every night we went out. All of us have photos stashed away that would prevent certain people from ever getting elected to the Supreme Court. I can’t imagine how our young adult lives and careers might have been affected if the rest of the World had access to those photos during our years of, well, let’s just call it “youthful exuberance.”
While our parents were considered “The Greatest Generation,” ours might be the most “social.” We were not only the generation of peace and love, we spoke to each other and used the telephone to stay connected. Once plans were made for going out, there was no way to change them and keep everyone in the loop at the same time. Maybe that’s why we usually had a meeting place before heading out for the evening.
Social media sites like Facebook have allowed many of us to “stay connected” or even reconnect, sometimes decades later. However, some people are consumed with updating their status or checking their news feed all day long. Apparently, it’s vital to let everyone know where they are and who they’re with all the time.
At what price, though? Has immediate access to social media turned us into wandering zombies, shuffling along staring into a phone? In 1949, George Orwell wrote in his dystopian novel 1984, “The people will not revolt. They will not look up from their screens long enough to notice what’s happening.”
Two topics that have always been considered taboo for social situations are politics and religion. Yet, according to my Facebook newsfeed, those two subjects are discussed freely with hatred and vitriol on both sides. And when did showing your friends photos and videos of your family vacation become popular? Most people used to cringe when visiting friends that brought out photo albums or set up a projector to show their home movies.
It’s interesting to see your friends are attending a concert or sporting event when they post a “check-In” status update. Conversely, constant updates of seeing your friends at exciting events may make your life seem inadequate.
Maybe that’s the problem with social media. In a real social situation, like a gathering of friends at a dinner party or a local pub, no one person would be spouting off all the places they just visited or concerts they’ve seen. There would be an interaction between people as everyone would contribute to the conversation. We used to call people like that a “bore” or a “braggart.”
Don’t get me wrong, I have both a Facebook and Twitter account. I like to post things that interest me to share with others (like this column). I have also reconnected with several people that have been out of my life for quite some time.
But you know things are bad when kids are complaining that their parents have “ruined” Facebook for them. Outside of Rubik’s Cube and fidget spinners, social media may be the most significant time waster mankind has ever come up with, making people more anti-social than social.
Who knows? Maybe as more of my generation moves into retirement age, they will have even more time on their hands to waste. Instead of posting “check-ins” from concerts or sporting events, we’ll be posting Scrabble scores or pictures of jigsaw puzzles.
Now, what did I do with those pictures from our road trip to Asbury Park back in 1979?
Paul DiSclafani, a Massapequa resident, is a 2018 Press Club of Long Island award-winning columnist and an Anton Media Group columnist since 2016.