A few weeks ago at work i was sitting having lunch with a group of co-workers and it was pretty quiet, in fact it was completely silent because 7 out of the 8 people in that room were all on their (not so) smart-phones !. Then yesterday i had to go into town and was sat in the cafe on my own having coffee and doing what i hardly ever do…which is read a newspaper. Aside from nearly snorting my coffee and laughing out loud i noticed that a whole group of rather hip young people came and sat at the table next to the very scruffy and weird looking guy (that’s me by the way) and as soon as they sat down it went completely quiet as they all got straight down to texting and flicking through their social media accounts. At least i didn’t have to put up with the endless stream of verbal ‘like’s’ for a while.
I was just thinking that maybe i should create a new category of posts here : something along the lines of ‘moany old bloke’ posts, especially after an expensive day out in Londinium.
Now what i should say straight off is that my use of social media, notably facebook , has really got out of hand recently because i am a member of at least 6 groups. One of those is purely work related and only used to communicate shift swaps but the others are mainly discussion groups and it is those that suck up my time. Some readers will know that i follow Dr Jordan Petersen but i also follow 2 JBP related study groups where i spend far too much time reading other peoples comments and opinions and of course writing my own. So for January i am having the whole month off Facebook and reducing my total internet time by completely uninstalling the 2 multi-player games that i have but only work badly due to our poor internet connection out here in the boondocks.
Given that i am just back from my London trip and that i went there specifically to go to JBP’s lecture and met another member of the group who recognised me immediately i should have been all over FB this morning discussing the experience and no i didn’t get a selfie with JBP even though i was 3 feet from the stage.
So for a long time i have thought that mobile phones, now smartphones and many aspects of social media are strongly antisocial but what i hadn’t realised is how bad they are for many young peoples mental health. I was aware of cyber-bullying through internet gaming where even the 2 games i play can have an unpleasant toxic atmosphere sometimes such that i have turned the chat functions off when i play them and hey….guys its a game !. Cyber-bullying seems to be only the beginning of the problem though and the larger problem is being recognised as much higher levels of anxiety and depression in young people….especially young women. I picked up on this one during a conversation between JBP and Dr Jonathan Haidt and have since been back-tracking through the work that he mentions.
When i hear conversations like that one it makes me realise how little i know about the lives and childhoods of ‘kids today’ by which i mean the lives of the young people that i work with today. I know that grew up in a different era, one of unstructured free play, fights in the playground, running around in the woods, building dens and getting filthy….hey so not much has changed in my life then . Yesterday in London i enjoyed my little bit of free time from getting there to attending the lecture by taking a wander around the science museum, somewhere i haven’t been for 20 years or more. Now i just love that level of ‘stuff’ especially the big and slightly grunge-y level of yet immaculate engineering and craft of the victorian era ….big steam engines and the like. One of my favourite displays is a the model gallery, of course i used to build models so i always enjoy seeing what the true masters of that craft can do. Of all the display areas i visited it was the one that hardly anyone was taking an interest in and i suspect that few there would appreciate the hundreds-into-thousands of hours that some old bloke somewhere in a shed spent lovingly building those models.
I’m not saying that ‘kids today’ should abandon their Iphones and FB accounts and start building working models with Lego, Meccano and Airfix models….crikey even the they aren’t the same nowadays. What i am saying is similar to another recent post of mine : that we are in a world of unintended consequences with social media and mobile devices that might even be considered as harmful as any other addiction : alcohol, drugs, gambling, porn etc. I may simply be behind in this stuff because mostly i live in a real world where i get to work with my hands, build stuff, grow stuff am not saturated by TV celeb world (don’t have a TV) but do have this little toe-hold in cyber-world and yes i do use social media myself.
Last night on the train journey back from London i was trying to put together a post comparing my life as a teenager up to the time i left school at 16 and got my first job….ok so we could immediately say “left school at 16 and got a job” and leave it right there but-
A while back i attempted a more serious post in which i described how a simple childhood interest turned into a teenage obsession of building and modelling mainly armoured fighting vehicles of the second world war period and i am happy to admit mainly from the German side. I still remember the very first model i ever built and the first serious model that i built for competition a few years after that. I hadn’t quite hit my stride at that point and what i attempted was a bit ambitious but it got a commendation from the judges which i was very happy with. I did say in that post that model making gave me a great eye for form and detail and i learnt the basics of getting things historically accurate so i was chagrined on the day when one of the judges commented that i had made a fair job of the model and particularly the crew figures but that the camouflage scheme and unit markings were wrong !
Today i can hardly imagine a teenager being a model-maker and in any way getting away with building and displaying a German half-track as deployed by the 2nd SS Panzer division (Das Reich)…..do a google search if you will. Today of course our model maker would be immediately outed on social media as a proto-nazi, white supremacist and anti LGBQT bigot. That would only be the start of the problem though because then others would have to ‘like’ the exposers post or risk their own social media status if they didn’t and would be anxious about the number of likes they got for their ‘like’ of a negative post…levels and levels of abstraction.