(un)social media

This video is being shared all over Facebook (Yeah, I know). It’s Called “Look up”. It’s this guy who’s written a poem about the negative influence of social media and our dependance on smartphones.

I guess it’s a fair observation that most people under the age of 40 spend quite a bit of time on their phones; checking Facebook, Twitter, chatting with someone or whatever.

The man who made the video, Gary Turk, claims that communication via social media is somehow less social than talking to someone in person. Now I can agree that it’s fucking infuriating when people check their phones or send a text while you’re trying to have a conversation with them, but in general I don’t really see the problem.

He’s operating from the assumption that a spoken message is somehow superior to a written one. This is the kind of “I was born in the wrong generation, I want to live back when people actually communicated with each other!” attitude I despise. Fuck that. Why is it superior? Can’t a text covey just as much feeling as a spoken story? Books convey emotions and tell stories that affect me way more than a play or a movie ever could. If it doesn’t hold true for stories, why would it hold true for conversations?
The only reason we value spoken conversations over written ones are because historically the only way we could reach someone in written form was by sending them a letter. Now I get why that couldn’t become substitute for talking to someone. It’s slow, it costs money, and there’s a finite number of pages you can force in to an envelope.
Nowadays I can reach anyone, anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds. That’s a hell of a lot faster than flying across an ocean to meet someone or even calling them.
The only thing that’s really keeping together this “spoken over written” is tradition; people who are afraid of change. If we establish written text as the norm, there’s nothing preventing it from being just as personal and emotive as speaking to someone.

He goes on to talk about “The children of today” and how they spend too much time on their iPads and not enough time outside. This seems to be the go-to “anti-technology” argument everyone over 16 uses. I don’t get where they’re coming from at all. Have they been outside at all? There are a lot of families with children on the street I live, and every Saturday and Sunday I wake up to children playing in the street and in our yards. The people who claim that kids are on their computers all day must be living in a very different world than me. Christ, I worked at an elementary school, and kids there ran, fell and played in the rain just as much as we did. The only difference is that instead of being bored out of their fucking minds when nobody’s home, they can do something that stimulates their brains and imagination.

In the last part of the video he makes up a love story about a guy and a girl who meet when he doesn’t know the way, has to ask her for directions, and go on to get married. In the end he shows that none of this would have happened if the guy just used google maps instead.
No, really. Fucking what? Is he really saying that we should risk getting lost and possibly mugged and/or stabbed because there is a tiny chance that we could meet our soulmate? The chance of you meeting someone you actually want to have a conversation with are really small to begin with, and the chance that you and her/him will marry is realistically zero.
Contrary to what he says is the way to meet your soulmate, being on the internet gives you a waaaay bigger chance of meeting “the one”. If you’d take a sample of married couples over the last 100 years and ask them how they met, i guarantee you’d get a lot more answers that were: “We met online” than “Oh yeah, she asked me where the train station was, so I showed her!”. A more likely scenario is: “Oh yeah, she asked me where the train station was, so I showed her. We hit it off really good, and then we never spoke again because without smartphones or computers, you can’t really keep in touch with someone who lives more than 4 miles away.”

Fuck off with the nostalgia-tinted glasses already. Your generation was not better than any previous or future generation, and smartphones don’t make us stupid.


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