By Emily Rosen
Here is the karmic confluence of events that triggered this column:
1) I have spent the last several months cursing Facebook, cursing, that is – the amount of time I have wasted – thrown it into unchartered cyberspace, down the drain — time, a major and significant commodity at my age. And, as well, feeling close to being a hostage to its magnetic lure, as one “look” (like?) begets another, and I am sucked into its inane, nonproductive and mostly socially vapid vortex.
2) Having nothing to do with the above, and because I am a fan of the author, I am about 50 pages south of completion of David Eggers’ book “The Circle,” which – purely coincidently is about the predicted long-term effect of having social media creep into our lives, squirting us with endless transparencies that can never be redacted and asking the question: “Will constant surveillance result in a more honorable (perfect?) society, as people fear to have their bad behaviors flashed onto world screens?” It also illuminates the end-game of a society which has the ability to monitor, disseminate, record and analyze every breath we take, and, eventually, every thought we entertain.
The book is not up to Eggers’ literary reputation and the writing has major flaws, but the concept is pure and prescient.
3) Today, I got caught up with curiosity about one of the meetups for which I had – eons ago – signed up. (Meetups : a group of local people who were initially strangers to each other, but who share a specific interest — meeting to enhance that interest) I followed it in maze-like fashion, dumped eventually into “LinkedIn, “another social media “darling,” and discovered two people I would like to contact and thought, “How wonderful that I can contact them and perhaps be enriched by those contacts.”
And so, as always, I land squarely in the middle, excoriating extremism, exhorting the powers that be to put the brakes on serious boundaries, while commending the existence of tools by which we can actually improve our lives. While I hope that we have not already gone beyond the slippery slope, unable to stop the rush towards the ultimate BIG BROTHER society (pssst! I think we are there already!) I am not sure that there are enough of us – and this may be generational – to foresee such a damning future.
It’s not really comfortable to sit on a fence like this. It is certainly not a sign of bold leadership, but is, in fact, a position reflecting thoughtfulness, and the avoidance of hasty decision-making often leading to disaster. It’s a slow-down and meditate and weigh-the consequences position, reflecting less passion and more mindfulness — “mindfulness,” by the way, garnering numerous powerful allies and practitioners these days.
I am not advocating the dumping of social networking – which is already beyond control. It’s more like look both ways before you cross the street against a red light. And with all those trucks barreling along the road, it is the better part of wisdom to avoid them.