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the real “disconnect”

With no interwebs, this loss of connectivity on the bus allows me to really sit back and just write unobstructed. I didn’t realize it until this very moment but I am turned off to the world. My phone is off and in my pocket. No phone calls, no Facebook, no Angry Birds, and no texts. This bus also doesnt have interwebs. No email, no Chat, no IM, no anything. Its kind of nice to just be los tin my thoughts. That and listening to my little friend flirt with his boyfriend overtop of a Snoop Dogg beat in my headphones.

I have been reading more and more about connectivity and how our newer generations are so intertwined with one another that they cannot disconnect. I mean this is evidenced by my little friend sitting next to me. Even after looking me in the face and rolling his eyes, he still had the balls to ask for my phone. He HAD to get on a phone or on the web somehow and let his friends know what was going on. Right this very instant he is talking on his phone. The girls in the row next to me are so upset that their phones are about to die, yet they have been on FB and talking on the phone the entire 2 hours we have been on this metal egg roll.

All the articles I have read involve the decay of true social skills. Social skills are being replaced by a virtual world. I watched ‘Social Network’ again the other night, the movie about the creation of Facebook. I was astounded with the creator’s genius but also with the underlying message behind it all. Not that you shouldn’t do business with friends, though I know this first hand, it’s that Mark Zuckerberg was looking to project his social anxiety onto the rest of the world. As illustrated in the opening scene, he is so far superior intellectually than most and so socially awkward that he cannot interact with a person face to face. He recognizes this and through a chance encounter he finds the means to creating a world that would abide by his rules. A world that he would create and 500 million people would join. 1/14 of the planet is on FB. The one quote that sticks out to me in the movie is when his assistant lawyer says “What are you doing?” Mark replies, “ I’m checking on Bolivia.” She rebuts, “They don’t have roads, but they have Facebook.”

As an entrepreneur, which in the English language is a synonym for “unemployed” and is a longer word for “broke.” As an entrepreneur, I appreciate the fact that he saw an idea that wasn’t sufficient enough and created something to fill the void. That’s the epitome of the entrepreneurial spirit, that’s why I loved the movie.

By bringing everyone to his level, Mark created a world where he would be able to “interact” with “friends” instead of going out for a coffee or grabbing lunch or participating in happy hour with his colleagues. Instead he created the world where no one is required to have face to face time but still is privy to the inner workings of a person’s entire life. A couple of years ago, this would have been thought about an invasion of privacy, classified as stalking and generally thought of as creepy. But nowadays, this is common place and almost goes without a second thought.

In this new world you don’t have to interact with your “friends.” You simply post your thoughts and they chose to read it or not. You post pics and “friends” decide whether or not to peruse. Everything about you is online and volunteered for consumption. I am also a part of this, but fought it for several years. I finally caved when I left Bustin and needed to reconnect with connections. My thought process for this was that I had networking to do outside of LinkedIn and that could only be through FB.

Globalization is all around us. A once scary thought that all seven continents, 1000s of countries, and billions of people could all be interconnected. The web was the first major component of this, but FB is the next.

I have seen first hand how connectivity is hurting our society. Its evident in my generation but really starts to show itself in people just a few years younger than me. One of the most prominent examples is with a girl I knew who has an incredibly hard time expressing her feelings face to face or over the phone. Instead she chooses to text, chat, or email. This is a sign of the times if there ever was one. I know that I sit here and write away at this very moment to convey my thoughts, feelings, and emotions on issues, observations, and things that run rampant through my brain, but there is a difference here. I can convey my thoughts through verbal means. Sometimes I have chosen to convey them through a well worded letter or email so that I could effectively get my point across. But for this to be the normal and not to want to “talk things out” is not even in my realm of thinking. I can’t comprehend having to type out a six page text instead of taking 3 minutes to call someone to discuss the matter. In the time it took to write that six page text (and I get it there are some absurdly fast typing kids today) the point could have been brought up, talked out, and dealt with. Now you open the flood gates for a text battle that could last all day. Text does not convey emotion no matter how many CAPS and !!!!! you use. Texts don’t allow for inflection of the voice, they don’t allow for sarcasm, and no punchline delivery. It’s a cold robotic means of communication that allows for sufficient “safe” distance conflict resolution. Without ever having to confront someone or a situation, people never get to feel those emotions.

Today instead of punching someone for disrespecting, they blast it on the web which lasts forever. Not to mention the rate of spread that something like that would garner. When I got in a fight in high school, the whole class wouldn’t know until the next day as long as teachers weren’t involved. Today, that would have been passed around in minutes or even seconds, pics would have been blasted out, and then those pics would have been tagged for my incrimination. Within moments there would have been no denying the fight happened, no “he walked into a door.” I would’ve been busted.

Cyberbullying. I find it unreal that there is a term for this, but I know that it is necessary and that it is a real thing. It’s sad that it has come to this and leads to kids even killing themselves over what was placed online. Years ago, we would never have to deal with the pressures and simultaneous responsibilities of the internet in this capacity. The pressures of being cool are compounded with the web and the responsibility to police ourselves comes at an even earlier age as predators lurk in every corner of the web waiting to prey on the weak, stupid, and irresponsible.

Kids have to grow up more quickly now. This is evidence through the gene enhancement we use in cows to make them produce more milk and in the little girl at age 10 who is starting her period. This is extremely alarming. Boobs sprout too early and if “she” doesn’t keep up with the average genetically enhanced kid she is ridiculed. What happened to being a kid? Where did scabby knees go? I spoke at an elementary school in Staten Island the other day about being a veteran and the importance of Veteran’s Day. During my time there I noticed something pretty disturbing. While talking to the 5th grade at assembly I asked how many people play ‘Call Of Duty,’ the graphic video game that lets the player choose a side and fight as a soldier. Mind you that everything that comes along with being a real soldier is played out on the TV screens for 90% of the entire class, girls included!

They asked me several questions that I never thought a 5th grader would ever know. “How many people fly on the AC130 Gunship?” “How does it feel to lose a friend in combat?” These are realities of war, REAL war, and these kids are pulling virtual triggers on one another nightly screaming for headshots. I know the feeling because I love these games, but mind you I have been in the military and I’m almost 30. Mind you that I never had a video game system either, until I was in the military. Actually that is not entirely true. One year when I was about 10, my brother and I asked for a Nintendo. The original Nintendo, that’s how long ago this was. On Christmas Brandon and I were greeted with a Nintendo, but little did we know that it was from the girl who dad had taken out a couple of times. We played Mario all damn day and night and the next morning, the beach came back and took it from us. She said it wasn’t working out with dad and took our F@ck!n& Nintendo!! WHO DOES THAT? WHOOOOO does that to little kids?!!?

I hope you are reading this Nintendo Indian-giver lady and I hope you are ashamed. Think about how scarred I am from this to have it come up 20 years later in my life and in multiple drunken conversations when I told my friends and complete strangers about what a beach you are. I don’t know your name, but I wish I did so I could do the same to you. I would plan to meet you in the grocery store as we both reached for a bottle of Women’s One-a-Day or Centrum Silver. We would share a small awkward laugh and sheepishly I would allow you to take the bottle. I would explain that I was getting that for my mom and then tell you that there is no way that bottle is for you because you don’t look a day over 40. You giggle and blush. This gets your blood pumping a little harder as you think, “could he really be complimenting me? Is he hitting on me?” I’ll do you one better lady, I’ll even ask you out for a coffee. The coffee would lead to witty banter on my part and you would look like a deer in the headlights as you marveled over the fact that a strapping young man could want anything to do with an old bag like you. To take it further, I would pull a page from the Will Ferrell Classic Anchorman. I would take you out for a nice seafood dinner, then NEVER CALL YOU AGAIN! I look forward to our chance encounter in the pharmaceutical aisle. I’ll grab the Boniva, you grab the Metamucil and we’ll hang out, I swear. Ill call you, promise…


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