My Digital Dependency

I signed up for Twitter about a month ago; Trump tweets were the catnip for joining. I NEEDED to see Trump’s tweets directly; news casts blaring BREAKING NEWS and showing me the feeds were not enough.

I wanted to go to the source – Twitter itself.

I finally folded like a cheap lawn chair and signed up.

Last week, I closed my account and unloaded it from my smartphone.

What a let-down! Twitter was a monumental waste of time.

A perfect example of the oft-quoted Shakespeare nugget;

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

And then is heard no more. It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

I doubt that every person who uses Twitter is an idiot but there are enough idiots tweeting and retweeting – shouting their nothing with sound and fury – to poison it for me.

I walked away from Twitter. I don’t need the company of those idiots.

Deleting Twitter opened the door to a more serious internal dilemma.

I’m a news junkie, I like to think positively: I have an active curiosity about the world. Information is important; the source of my information and the veracity of it profoundly affects my view of the world.

Over the years, I developed a reliable pattern for accessing news. In the mornings, with my coffee, I scan emails, read items that interest me from a few news aggregators:  NationalNewswatch.com, https://qz.com/.

I check theglobeandmail.com and CBC.ca to see what’s happened overnight and then read through the US and International news on the NYtimes.com. I have slowly given up on print and magazines; I now find digital sources of information more convenient.

I glance at the CBC and CTV morning news, finish my coffee, check Facebook and go about my day. All this consumed about an hour of my time.

In the evenings, I catch BBC, PBS and sometimes the National on CBC.

I am well aware that I live in an information silo of my own making; to compensate, I deliberately try to read opinions that do not conform with my own.

I’m trying to forestall the inevitable hardening of the attitudes that come irrevocably with age.

I am also well aware of the polarization of society into factions – discourse and dialogue are smothered in the shout-out of inflamed opinions. The fools are winning.

Bertrand Russel predicted our dilemma;

“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wise people so full of doubts.”

Lately, my prurient need for more, stimulated by watching the freak show called the Trump presidency has subverted and perverted this pattern. I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole.

For the moment I have deleted Twitter from my life. I have suspended Instagram but am reconsidering; it seems benign if I control it.

I was digging myself out, then Facebook hit the fan. With Blair’s help, I have immediately tightened my privacy settings and blocked all the apps from accessing my information. I have never knowingly allowed Facebook or any of my digital tools to access my address book or my contacts. Knowingly is the key word in that sentence. I’m convinced now that, like millions of others, I am not very KNOWING.

The privacy thing is long gone; everyone tells me that the digital universe has enough data on each of us that we are an open book. Data doesn’t disappear apparently.

I doubt that deleting Facebook is going to retrieve my privacy but I am debating how I can best take back control of my digital life while still being an active, responsible and informed citizen.

I also recognize that I am my own worst enemy. I write a blog for goodness sake. I’ve written two books. I post all these musings on Facebook so more people will benefit from my wisdom ( a dubious rationale but it’s all I can cling to at the moment).

Much of my privacy is truly gone, never to be retrieved. Yet, I can be more conscientious about what I say, write, record and distribute and where I choose to do those things.

I can also put on my big boy pants and recognize a few realities.

Facebook, Twitter, Google, Amazon and every other site out there are NOT free. We pay a price to use these facilities.

Facebook and the like are not benign, they are businesses trading in our data.

They are not worried about us or our privacy, they are resolute in their pursuit of profit. Forget their high-minded statements of purpose – follow the money.

I am the one who punches in the info; they are happy to seduce me with free shipping and instant access to much that I desire – with instant gratification delivered to my door.

I could go on but this much is clear. There will be much more self awareness and self censure in the future. And I may yet delete Facebook.   

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2 Responses to My Digital Dependency

  1. Zahid says:

    Really a thoughtful and a thought-provoking piece, thank you dearest brother Bob for sharing. Stay well.

  2. Susan H says:

    As you know, I live in the eye of the storm. A few weeks ago, I deleted CNN, NBC and a few friends that constantly retweet the most sensational and scandalous items of the day, from my twitter feed.

    I just couldn’t take it. I would read my feed and could feel myself deflating and churning into anger.

    I, like you, knew something had to change.

    I still have my account and very few feeds will take me down the rabbit hole. I love my Twitter feed now, and this change has made me happier and less likely to delete the account permanently.

    Facebook, is another story. I never see myself walking away as I truly love being connected to my friends and family. I have locked myself down, and I’ve become ruthless about who I remain connected to. If I receive a birthday notice and truly do not want to bother wishing that person a happy day, I delete them, maybe that day. 🗡

    Ps. If I’ve ever missed your special day on the book, heartfelt apologies and belated wishes! 🎂🌈. You will never be on the chopping block . 🙂

    Wonderful post!!

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