2018-01-18 / Viewpoint

The VIEW from here

Running on empty

Alex Petrie Staff Writer Alex Petrie Staff Writer I don’t think I can even call it a crisis of faith anymore.

I’m afraid it’s gone.

My faith in the generation nipping at my heels, my faith in my own generation, and much of my faith in the generation that preceded me, for that matter. Kids addicted to technology, moms and dads lurking through Facebook. Jeez Louise.

Here’s the thing. I’m not an extremist. Phones can be good. But they’re getting scary. It’s beyond worrisome that ads keep popping up for things that I talk about near my phone. Like the phone — or someone — is listening. Then I look around and see the way people are glued to these devices, and I’m realizing that everybody, everybody, is sprinting towards the promise of an unknown future rooted in technology and all the “good” that it offers. But what are we running towards, exactly? There’s simply no way to predict exactly how technology will affect us sociologically or otherwise. We’re in uncharted territory. And, to be honest, it ain’t lookin’ good.

Unconcerned and undaunted in their chase for whatever, everybody presses on, slouching towards a virtual Bethlehem. Without having any idea what the future holds, everybody around me is breathlessly hurdling directly at it, like insects towards neon. Determined to be the first to get that new phone and immediately surrender their fingerprints, facial biometrics, personal information and God knows what else. Plus, in that frenzy to keep pace with technology and their “friends,” nobody is looking at all the things they’re passing by. All those memories, those moments, those things that make up the periphery of our lives are being utterly ignored. And without all those memories, what is there, besides the digital playground you’ve invented with social media? The people you milk for virtual approval and “likes,” the cultivated and curated “life” you’ve built with your thumbs and your camera phone?

What more convenience can we possibly need, really? We believed that social media was a tool to be used for good, for connection, for relationships. And now it’s become obvious that it’s not much more than a tool for the people that are running it. They have access to every aspect of your lives. They use their technology and algorithms to reinforce your biases, your beliefs, your thoughts. However ugly or ill-informed they may be. It’s becoming more and more dangerous.

And I don’t care if I sound like a hobo waving a picket sign about the end times. In case you haven’t noticed, things aren’t good. And, mark my words, they’re not getting better. So let’s cool it. Let’s just take a breather. Try to go an entire day without using your phone for anything but making phone calls.

Listen, I’m not stupid. I know this silly little column isn’t gonna change all of your minds, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. In the meantime, I’m taking a step back and getting a good seat for that moment everyone runs into the future face first. I’ll be watching, and so will Big Brother.

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