Easy To Slip, Little Feat
It’s so easy to slip
It’s so easy to fall
And let your memory drift
And do nothin’ at all
All the love that you missed
All the people that you can’t recall
Do they really exist at all
The irony of this post is that I was on the Internet reading this piece, Struggling to Disconnect From Our Digital Lives when the tipping point happened. I owe the writer a thank you.
For me, getting here has been a long time coming. I knew I was having trouble focusing. But I wasn’t ready to give up reading about Trump, politics, sports, news, being absorbed in links friends sent me, or I bookmarked for later. I was reading Facebook and Twitter. Browsing and being connected had become the priority in my life. I was taking my iPad to bed, it went everywhere with me. I was compulsively consuming and my head was aching. But just like the alcoholic and drug addict that I am, I kept clicking.
Needle And The Damage Done, Neil Young
I caught you knockin’ at my cellar door
I love you, baby, can I have some more?
Ooh, ooh, the damage done
My mind had become so filled up with stuff I thought I needed to know about, I was having trouble putting two good sentences together.
Of course I created this myself. When I started in tech in 1989, the buzzword was multi-tasking, which is really geek speak for “I’m not good at one thing, but watch me be average at a bunch of things”.
The dot-com (dot-con) era was about getting the user (not customer, big difference) hooked by giving away free software. Bury what you’re really up to, which is data mining, in the Terms and Conditions that they’ll never read or if they do, they’ll never understand it. Then give away more free software. Lather, rinse, repeat until they’re so hooked in, they can’t leave or quit. It’s kinda like one big game of PacMan; gradually take over more and more of the users digital life, i.e, pac-dots. When all the pac-dots are eaten, go to the next level. First it was email, then it was AOL. Then free websites, the iPod and iTunes, now social media. I’ve skipped a few steps, but you get the point. BTW, the genius of social media isn’t the tech — that’s actually very ordinary. The real genius was how everyone got everyone to join in on the joke.
Venture Capital funded these free services where the “big idea” was to get people hooked and go viral (it’s amazing what people do to each other). Free services and software that resemble an Anopheles mosquito, not, something of value. BTW, free software has cost our country dearly. I’ll write about that later. The VC’s tilted the game with their war chest of money. The VC’s also funded the first social networking sites. The social networking sites had an even bigger and smarter plan, get the world hooked. And boy, did they ever do that.
Zuckerberg: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS
[Redacted Friend’s Name]: What? How’d you manage that one?
Zuckerberg: People just submitted it.
Zuckerberg: I don’t know why.
Zuckerberg: They “trust me”
Zuckerberg: Dumb f*cks.
The end game was/is get everyone connected via devices and services, most of them free and funded by VC’s, that transmit everything users do and say back to the cloud, which is the code word for Mothership, so their minds can be indexed. Make it just about impossible to disconnect. Make it impossible for anyone but VC funded companies to compete, by rubbing out all the little guys that offer something great, but charge for it. Cover some of the expenses by selling ads that no one really pays attention to. Now here’s what also gets me. Why hasn’t Madison Avenue figured out that no one pays attention to the ads on Facebook? Everyone on Madison Avenue in their designer clothes and town cars. Where’s their brains?
I saw it all coming but I was a ready, willing and able participant. First I had a pager. Then I had a brick phone. I had the first Palm Pilot. I had the first PalmV that was connected — OmniSky. I had every next new thing, often while still in beta. I had a white suit and blue shoes.
I thought I was too cool for school when I got my first pager. Then I got a brick phone, I could call back from my bar stool. I had the first iPhone. I made sure I used it everywhere I could, so others could see me. I was in a relationship with tech. I was standing on the corner checking my phone, texting, emailing, browsing and calling, all before the light changed.
But at least I’m enjoying the ride, at least I’ll enjoy the ride.
I was a drone, man.
Circa 2010 I started to notice everyone else doing the same thing I was, having a relationship with their phone. It was at that point tech wasn’t cool to me anymore, because everyone had it. I was no longer the only one I knew with an iPhone. I was just another sucker who’d been sucked in.
I was in New York. I remember looking around but no one was looking back. Everyone was looking at their phone. It was depressing.
In 2012 I started my blog. Now I was in full blown scan mode, looking for stuff to blog about.
Then the Apple Watch came along. Of course the tech companies know that the early adopters like me have figured out the game. Apple’s pitch was buy this watch and you won’t have to look at your phone as much, you’ll be sorta disconnected. I saw through it, told myself I wasn’t going to buy one. I even told blackwellspace I wasn’t going to buy one. But they got me again, I bought the first Apple Watch.
Got my Apple Watch before anyone, I was cool again. I was back on top, I had tech no one else did. I wore it everywhere, couldn’t wait for it to go off in a crowd or in my A.A. Meetings, so everyone could see I had an Apple Watch.
A few months go by, I’m really starting to see how bad I have it. I hadn’t finished a book in years but I knew everything about politics, the environment, you name it. I was a kickass scanner, I was consuming more than ever. I was bouncing back and forth all day between websites, clicking on every link my friends sent me, scan then blog about it. I knew I was hosed, but I just didn’t know what to do about it.
Of course what never occurred to me, was to unplug.
I tried consuming less. I’d wake up each day and tell myself I wasn’t going to foxnews.com, cnn.com, theguardian.com, richroll.com, epicski.com, nytimes.com, harbskisystems.com, denverpost.com, or the countless other websites filled with noise. I tried telling myself I was going to quit following the Iron Cowboy, that I didn’t care what people are up to on Facebook or Twitter, that I was going to quit being consumed by information that’s really nothing more than a distraction. I knew the game, I knew what the websites and social media sites were up to in their game of “hook ’em”, but I still couldn’t stay away.
It was about a week ago, when I was in Utah following the Iron Cowboy, that I realized how bad I had it. Here I was, following this self-absorbed person who I didn’t admire. But I had traveled to see him, spent time and money to do so. Jeezus.
Salt Lake City don’t sound like much but hell, what’s in a name
Nobody ever sings about it But lord I be goin’ there just the same
How did this happen? I followed him each day on Facebook. Ever notice how people slow down to see the car wreck? That’s Facebook and social media. I was watching the car wreck. I was obsessed, with car wrecks.
All last week I was depressed about how deep in the mire I was. Then it happened. I’m doing what I do every night, laying in bed with my iPad, scanning. I see the struggling piece. For me, I know when I’m in the weeds. But until lightening strikes, I don’t do anything about it.
The struggling piece said it all. It was the jolt I needed.
When the devil wants to take it all away?
Cherish well your thoughts, and keep a tight grip on your booze
‘Cause thinkin’ and drinkin’ are all I have today.And then a man rode into town, some thought he was the law.
Billy Jean was waitin’ when he came.
She told me he would take her, if I didn’t use my gun,
I’d have no one but myself to blame.
Today, I got up and deleted all the distraction apps. I cancelled my subscription to the NYT, theGuardian, and Denver Post. If the news is that important, someone will call me. My friend Arn sent me a text this morning with a link, I’m going to reply with a link to this post.
One day at a time, instead of going to websites I’m going to start reading all the books I have. I’m going to teach myself to write cursive again (I forgot how), I’m going to teach myself to write and spell again (I forgot how). Instead of using Google, I’m going back to using DuckDuckGo. I’ll call my Mother and ask her questions — she’s really smart. Or I’ll call one of my brothers and ask them. If either of them don’t know the answer, then what I’m looking for probably isn’t important. I’m pretty sure I can get any answer I need by talking to someone, picking up the phone and calling someone, or reading a book.
I’m going to start sending letters and calling people, instead of email. I’ll go see my friends, in person. If that doesn’t work then maybe I need to rethink the friendship. I’m going to send companies thank you notes instead of filling out their forms. One day at a time I’m going to quit sending companies email, telling them what I think they should do. I’m going to use the phone, not websites, to order stuff. If they don’t have a phone number or they won’t sell to me on my terms, then I don’t need what they’re selling. I believe this will lead to me consuming less. Bonus is that it’ll cut down on the email I have to deal with.
For now, I’m keeping my Apple Watch. The fitness app really is good, it helps me track my workouts. Everything else goes. And maybe the Apple Watch, too.
I’m four hours into this. Will I miss it? What I’m really missing is my intelligence and sanity. Hell just taking this first step I’m already relieved, feel like I’m getting better.
And you know what? It feels good to be different again. It feels cool, knowing others will read this and think I’m crazy. I love, that I’m the only one not on Facebook or Twitter. Renee will be proud of me.
More will be revealed.
Who knew a day would turn into a week
But I learned my lesson and yes, I still remember the last one
This time will be different, this time will be different