Michael Harris

There is No Spoon…

I’m one of those ‘hipsters’ that remembers the world without the internet. I just saw today that Michael Harris has written a book about my generation, and I plan to run right out and buy it. Here’s why:

Every day I wake up and have the same routine for the last few months. I slide out of bed and retrieve the coffee that my wife has so graciously made for me, take a few sips of piping hot nirvana, reach for my iPad, and flip it open. My first moments as I rub the sleep out of my eyes are to catch up on what I might have missed during my 6-8 hours ‘offline’. This routine has been nagging me a lot lately.

Several times I have been pretty fed up with the ego-driven world of social media, and how it makes me (and others) behave. Don’t take this as a personal attack. I just cringe when I think about the motivations behind most of the content we share online. Some of it is really cute, some of it really funny, some of it astonishing feats, and then there’s the stuff that just plain pisses us off.  All of it keeps coming, recycled over and over, and our identities are tied to likes and shares.

I Quit (sort of)!

At one point I boldly announced that I was quitting Facebook because of how invasive, even dangerous, all of this sharing was. I realized that the pictures I was posting were geo-tagged by my phone and that someone with a simple browser plug-in could see the GPS location of my child’s bedroom. Although Facebook no longer exists on my phone (Amen! you no longer see selfies and pictures of my take-out!), within a month I was sipping java and checking my notification alerts on my iPad; posting, sharing and liking once again. It’s addictive. You realize after a while that it’s a sad attempt at celebrity. Some are actually really successful at it, but most of us are on a treadmill to nowhere.

“When you wake up, you have this gift of a blank brain. You could fill it with anything. But for most of us, we have this kind of panic. Instead of wondering what should I do, we wonder what did I miss. Its almost like our unconsciousness is a kind of failure and we can’t believe we’ve been offline for eight hours” —Michael Harris

Facebook Messenger

Along comes the Facebook Messenger App, which was always just part of ‘The Facebook’, but now it is being separated as its own App for your phone. I never really used it on my phone, or in my browser much. I had plenty of Apps for SMS. But the news about how invasive the App is should alarm you. It even has access to using your phones camera. For days leading up to the release the furor over how terribly invasive this Messenger was going to be was all the rage. People were incensed. And then they downloaded it 500 million times on the first day. Wow.

The Messenger App issue, which only affects me indirectly since I no longer run Facebook’s tech on my phone anyway, was causing me to really take a closer look, once again, at the issue and whether I want to participate.

You Are Being Data Mined

We complain a lot about Facebook and our technology being invasive, but you need to remember one thing; You are not the customer. The free services, even the paid ones, are using your daily behaviors to sell you to the real customers; Your likes, shares, pokes, messages, what you talk about, what you say on your webcam, what tab you opened in your browser (and the URL you typed), what you buy, are you married, do you have kids, how much money you make, your race, religion, party affiliation, etc. And you are handing it to them openly.

Don’t be mad about it. This is the way the world works now. Marketing and Advertising love you so much more than they did when they spent millions on a Super Bowl ad and they had to wait for a response. Now they can target you with diamond tip precision!

I don’t think that anyone that is connected to the digital world can avoid it. I just don’t like how blatant the data mining is on Facebook, or how it affects my (our) behavior.

So, after this little rant I am going to go share this on Facebook and announce my intentions. After that I will go through the process of collecting my Facebook data so that I can archive it, then give my friends and family 2 weeks notice of my intention to cleanse myself. I will continue to use Twitter and LinkedIn, mostly because they are used for professional reasons and for some reason are a very different animal than Facebook.

Bottom line; I don’t need Facebook to feel worthy. Cheers!