Tag Archives: Anonymous

Unplugging Because. . .

Technology, like sex, has a love/scare relationship with most Americans.

Until relatively recently, sex has been something that you just did not speak about in anything remotely resembling polite company. Not only did Lucy and Ricky sleep in separate beds with a nightstand between them, but most of George Carlin’s seven words you can’t say on television have to do with sex.

The flip side to that, however, is that while sex might not have been a public subject, it was the thing most on the minds of American men and women. Porn thrived, especially with the arrival of the internet and the ability of people to buy it anonymously. You couldn’t talk about it, but it was used to sell everything from cars and toothpaste to fridges and massagers.*

Things haven’t changed all that much, but it has become a bit less of a taboo in public discussion. Or at least, my wife, known to one and all as She Who Must Be Talking About Sex, and her friends seem to have no trouble talking about this kind of thing anywhere and everywhere.

I’m thinking technology is beginning to occupy a similar place in the American psyche. Not so much its existence, but, rather its use.What's the point of things like the National Day of Unplugging? Are we that scared of what the internet, in particular, and technology, in general, can offer to us?

More and more people are joining movements like the National Day of Unplugging, which was held early last month. The point of it was to abjure technology from sundown March 7 to sundown March 8. Ironically, folks who participated took photos of themselves and posted them on the National Day of Unplugging website to talk about “I unplug to. . . ”

I’m assuming ironic-deafness is a prerequisite to becoming a Luddite.

This whole thing reminds me of people who used to say, “I never watch television, except maybe a few hours of Masterpiece Theater on PBS.” Mostly folks said that to make it look like they were too smart, too sophisticated to debase their minds with the common drivel the rest of us enjoyed.

I suspect these folks are probably the same ones who won’t use an e-reader because they only read “real” books.

So, really, what’s the point? It’s not like any of these people are going to unplug for the rest of their lives. It seems to me that the whole point of this unplugging is to plug back in and then broadcast to one and all how virtuous you were because you put down your smartphone for a while.

It might have something to do with the fact that people don’t trust themselves very much. They use programs that block the internet or blank their web browsers so they won’t fool around when they should be working. They keep checking their messages and e-mail during meals with other people.

Even if you have always-on connection, that doesn’t mean you have to use it, yeah?

Mostly, I think the attraction of these sorts of things lies in the fact that, for most people, the idea of change is scary. And technology is all about change, about doing things differently, more efficiently, on a wider scale than before, seeing new things in your lives that had always been there, but were never noticed.

Dudes and dudettes get caught up in the world and begin racing toward the future with eyes open, but stop every once in a while, stumble, and realize just how much change we’ve been through and still face.

The strong smile, assess and continue. The weak unplug.

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Rose-Colored Contacts

I’m more the type to yell at someone to get me another glass of water.

You do know the question to that answer, yeah, dudes. For those of you a bit slow on the uptake (no, not you. The other dude. Yeah, him. Right.) is “Are you a glass-half-full dude or a glass-half-empty dude?”

It’s a question that gets to the bottom of the nature of perception, how we see the world. Are we inherently optimistic, in seeing the glass as half full, or are we inherently pessimistic, in that we see the glass as half empty?

It’s the same glass, with the same amount of water. The way we perceive it, however, tells us a lot about ourselves. I made a little joke up there in the lead, but that’s not really the type of dude I am.

When I see a glass that’s not full, I see a half-empty glass and begin wondering who drank the other half and if the half that remains is poisoned. More pessimistic than I wish that I was.

Events bring out the pessimist in me. However, that’s not all I am.

When I face a question about a person, it’s a completely different person. It seems like I’m always thinking the best about people. If someone’s never done something before, I still believe they can do it. I’m an optimist about a person, a pessimist about people as a group. I feel like I sort of fall into the camp as outlined by the great sage and philosopher Agent K.

Had he ever existed, which he most assuredly did not, Agent K might have said, “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.”

So I’m not alone in this.

But, and here’s the big point here, I didn’t like being that way. I didn’t like always assuming the worst was about to happen.

So I decided to change. I decided that, instead of always looking for the hammer to drop, I’m going to compliment the person holding the hammer on her lovely nail polish. Instead of ranting about the litter on the side of the road, I’m going to think about how it’s less than it’s been in years past, then I’m going to pick up all I can carry and feel better about having made the world a (slightly) better place.

My mom had a number of favorite sayings she would repeat as often as possible. One of those was something she cribbed from a radio psychologist, Dr. Joy Brown: “You can’t change other people. The only person you can change is yourself.”

And, you know, they were right. I know that there are people who bug me just by breathing. I feel my blood pounding in my ears, my fists clenching all that. But that person’s not going to change. It’s who they are.

I have to decide that it won’t bother me. And it’s more than possible. It’s actually easy. It really is, dudes.

You can decide to be more positive and you’ll be more positive. You can decide to let the little things just slide off your back and they will.

Since I’ve decided to be more positive, to see a glass someone filled up halfway just for me, I find that I’m seeing more positive things happen. Not only that, but I’m feeling like I should be doing more little things to make the world a (slightly) better place.

Instead of getting irritated that someone left their grocery cart in the middle of a space instead of putting it away just two spaces over, I’m glad I came along so I can move that one and another that’s nearby because it will make some anonymous Harris Teeter worker’s day a little easier.

It’s all in how we choose to perceive the world and the people around us.

So what’s it going to be, dudes? Are you going to be positive or negative? It’s up to you.

I know you’re going to make the right decision.

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Surfing The Digital Wave

by Richard

Yesterday, for my birthday, I got birthday wishes from my insurance agent. From the University of Florida Alumni Association. My money lady. My accountant. Numerous very close friends who haven’t spoken to me in decades but who are on Facebook. And also from an organization I once used to sign up for a 5k race about seven years ago. Not only that, but my insurance agent also sent me a birthday e-mail and a birthday text on my phone. Woot!

Ain’t technology wonderful?

Aside from the Facebook folks, who were notified by an automatic bit of programming from Facebook that comes out every week telling you which of your friends have birthdays that week, I’m sure no actual human was involved in any of these greetings. Well, no actual human beyond the computer programmer who created the original software. Although, can you call computer programmers humans? I think that’s probably still up for debate.

Anyway.

I long for the good old days. When you had to keep a paper calendar. And actually check it yourself. And then sign, address, stamp and mail the generic card you sent to everyone who you sort-of knew and in who’s good graces you wanted to remain. That’s the sort of automatic anonymous good citizenship I can get behind.

If you’ll excuse me, though, there’s a dude I know from elementary school and his birthday is today. I’ve got to go wish him a happy day.

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