There is no doubt about it, we are more connected and able to communicate than ever before however; do we use that ability sensibly and moreover, are we now simply ’slaves’ to communications technology?
Today we are some of the most active social networkers in the world – sharing our party pictures, our music playlists and our deepest secrets with hardly a moments thought. More than 60% of online users actively maintain a Facebook profile, and social networking is our favourite activity online in terms of time spent…(bbc.co.uk)
Look around any cafe or bar and you see groups of people, all continuously checking for new content on their prefered communications equipment. Frantically tapping away at their laptops, tablets and smartphones, people sit in a social void of reality, oblivious to the conversations around them. Constantly updating their Facebook profile and Tweeting mainly inane tosh to a virtual world, totally fixated on their electronic devices.
Mobile and social media are the driving forces of the next wave of digital change. But these advances are reducing our attention spans and creating new dilemmas for the way we live and work. Limiting ourselves to 150 carachters or text speak etc is missing out on so much that is to be valued in face-to-face human interaction.
- Study finds social networking taking up toilet time (technology.inquirer.net)
- Social Media Strategy for Small Business 2013: A Totally Honest Look at Social Networks (amsterdamprinting.com)
- 5 Ways to Use Mobile Social Apps to Influence Customers (itmashable.com)
- Jealous Of Your Facebook Friends? Why Social Media Makes Us Bitter (patrickwatts7.wordpress.com)
- Why do we love our smartphones so much? (conversations.nokia.com)
Do you ever spare a moment to think about the underlying issues causing the problems in our society? I often try but I doubt the same can be said for very many of us. You see we’re all too busy wrapped up in the vast importance of our mostly self-interested busy lives. By the very nature of the microcosm in which we reside, often ones of virtual reality at that, we tend to possess very little understanding about any of the trials and tribulations facing others…
Seeing a member of our military on TV, who is doing their utmost to recover from multiple limb loss and/or horrendous burns sustained whilst serving their country say; ”its hard but you just get on with it” is guaranteed to warm the underside of my collar. Not because I don’t value that person’s endeavours, both for their country, themselves and their loved ones, but due to those who insistently devote their spare moments to crying hardship and injustice.
You know the ones; vociferously bleating on ad infinitum about matters that in real terms, are mostly piffle and at the very most, a minor inconvenience of insignificance in the bigger scheme of things. The weather (too wet, too dry, too cold, too hot etc), the inconvenience of their rubbish bin collections (don’t bloody waste so much), the state of the roads (learn to drive properly), their mortgage (which was probably too big in the first place) and to cap it all, we now also have a devalued housing market to contend with.
The good thing about the latter issue is; it serves to impede their climb of greed up the property ladder but in addition (hopefully), it also teaches people to value life by more than monetary values alone. Been there, done that and got the bloody tee-shirt, twice!
Add the exorbitant price of weekly shopping today (much of which is discarded uneaten, in a bin that isn’t collected, in any case) to their moaning rants, along with the fact they can’t change the second car this year and the holidays will only amount to a week in the Balearic Isles, instead of two in the Caribbean and a couple in Greece to “top up the tan” next year, and you have to feel sorry for their plight. Don’t you?
Not a bit of it. My household income is less than half of what it was three years ago, its not easy but we survive and I don’t want sympathy or hand-outs. And, irrespective of their mostly contrived personal angst, often fuelled by the emotive and sensationalistic media machine, many still appear to have the ability to spend on all the frivolities of life… Unlike Mark and Helen Mullins who couldn’t even afford the necessities and consequently, saw no potion other than to give up on the rat race.
But what of those who continually champion the plight of the underclass at every opportunity? Well many of them are simply devoting their time selfishly. With the hope that offering up their (questionably) valuable opinion and time, along with a modicum of contrived concern, will further their self-promotion in their personal quest for self-importance in the world of social politics.
Refreshingly, according to the BBC on Twitter this morning, the Military Wives Choir have apparently sold 242,000 singles in one day – that’s more than Little Mix sold in total last week. It would be nice to think my Tweet of yesterday (below) had something to do with that achievement but I doubt it.
The Mixers may well be (justifiably) proud of realising their X-Facter dreams, unlike many millions of others. However, it still remains to be seen how they will ultimately handle their new-found fame and fortune or indeed, how long it will actually last. Best of luck girls, at least you should now have the financial ability to escape our social decline.
But in this age of Social disintegration, it’s always good to see people who have hardships of their own, making the effort to help others, instead of simply bleating constantly. Just a pity that many of those who could actually make a difference, like the politicians etc don’t. It’s this type of thing that forms the framework of social cohesion. It’s also one of the reasons I often ask; “what have YOU done today to make you feel proud?
I always think that it’s never too late to try, even if it turns out that your efforts are thrown back in your face. This morning was something of an example in point…
Whilst walking along the high street my attention was drawn to two young ladies (I use the term loosely). They were engaged in a dispute of animated gesticulation from opposite sides of their designer baby buggies. A small crowd was gathering outside the branch of the well-know budget brand female outfitter to observe, as they engaged in what many would describe as, a heated discussion of gargantuan bling handbag proportions.
To say the air around them was tinged with a blue haze, would be something of an understatement. One explicative after another tripped readily from their tongues with ease, all interspersed by the now ubiquitous ’like’ of social interaction. As I got closer I gleaned a better understanding of the actual topic being discussed, and as the words increased in decibel level, so they also gained hues of even more brilliance.
On drawing near a small girl of about four years old, who was also screaming, ran out from under the group of flailing arms and was heading in the direction of the busy main road. I quickly side-stepped and grabbed the girl, hoisting her skyward and out of the jaws of death as a lorry passed within inches. I walked the few steps back to the ‘ladies’ who were totally oblivious to ‘Tiffany’s’ near death experience and asked; “does this little girl belong to one of you?”
I was not looking for any thanks or praise, neither did I expect any reward for my actions indeed, a simple thankyou would probably have been too much to expect. No what I got (and also didn’t expect) was; “ere, wot you doin’ wiv my Tiff, you some fuckin’ peado or sumat?”
As I said above, it’s never too late to try to help someone, just sometimes you wonder why you actually bothered in the first place! But, just because some parent is an arse, you can’t hold it against their kids, can you?
- Record sales for Military Wives (bbc.co.uk)
- Military Wives marching on to Christmas number one (telegraph.co.uk)
- Little Mix WILL be beaten to the Christmas Number One by Military Wives Choir(heatworld.com)
Most of us should have realised by now, especially after recent toppled governments and the coordination of protest in the middle-east; the internet has become a fast flowing conduit of public opinion. It has also given hitherto unwitnessed strength and credibility to that age-old revolutionary cry - “Power To The People!”
That’s ok in most respects, especially if it’s toppling a dictator or just a bit of innocent fun; such as a flashmob choir providing musical entertainment, or maybe a world event to highlight a charitable or worthwhile cause (see Playing for Change – One Love).
But, the power of the internet can also be dangerous to our social framework. It’s use by a minority can bolster mass criminality as seen in our recent riots, or subversive groups can drum up anarchical actions that in turn develop Ochlocracy. Conversely, this freely available power can (unfortunately) also play into the hands of extreme groups and religious sects, those who see the internet as the root of all evil.
With the power of social networks like Twitter, Facebook , and YouTube, everyone with little effort is now afforded their very own personal soapbox. One with a far wider audience than could ever have been achieved at Speaker’s Corner. The thoughts and views of some disturbed or misguided crank, usually with a personal agenda isn’t really a problem, they can actually be ignored, as with the historical soapbox system of yesteryear. The greater problem today arrises when their rhetoric is galvanised into tangible action by the airhead masses. What was once an audience of half a dozen or so can now (worryingly) be thousands or millions.
The greatest issue is that unfortunately, too many in society today have neither the intelligence or desire to check their facts, prior to leaping lemming like into the flow of mass hysteria. In addition, too many also fail to question or challenge anything they’re soaking up like a thirsting sponge. They are happy to simply accept any information at face value, then jump aboard the (often misinformed) bandwagon of perceived popularity.
Many of these contrived and/or controversial ’causes’ are often fuelled by our mainstream media machine. A system that has become far more opinionated over recent years and often, a lot less factual than was once the case. It’s the main reason why democratic and civilised societies have laws. The threat of “mob rule” to a democracy is usually restrained by ensuring a fair and proportional application of those laws; the rule of law is designed to protect minority groups and individuals against short-term social panic and Demagoguery.
The term Demagoguery relates to a strategy for gaining political power by appealing to the prejudices, emotions, fears, and expectations of the public—typically via impassioned rhetoric and propaganda, and often using nationalist, populist or religious themes.
Sometimes it’s suggested that there should be an element of control over internet use however; in a free (thinking) democratic society, that control must come from the morality and beliefs of a general consensus in the electorate, not the dystopian thought police. Pity so many are actually unable to formulate ‘informed’ opinion and care more about real issues, intolerance and injustice in our world, as opposed to the virtual or make-believe one they so often live in.
If only our society were better educated generally, possessed a more enquiring mind, and cared a great deal less about their peers or indeed, the mostly self-interested desires of the popularity stakes… I had a dream today but unfortunately, it’s hardly likely to come to fruition now is it?