Distractions and holding back.

Now this is just the tip of the iceberg.. the underlying theme herein will be expanded upon over future posts and so this is an introduction of sorts. I think a lot about the direction we are going in with social media et al, or whatever it will be called in the future. The wheel is turning faster and faster and everyday we are seeing more and more innovations to make our virtual lives and communications easier. But there is the rub. Just because it is easier (more convenient) doesn’t necessarily mean it is any more useful, it may just make room for more distraction. Much of what we invest in is worth nothing when something better comes along.

If we are in a global recession, then why and how can we afford to keep buying virtually nothing? We are upgrading and obsoleting technology quicker than ever and piling up rubbish that was once worth substantial amounts (of course it still is to those in the lucrative recycling industries) so we can move on to the latest trend and give ourselves a false sense of belonging. The question is though, do we own our purchases or do they own us?

The Law of Distraction may sound familiar to those of you who have explored the realms of self-improvement on the information-super-highway. I’m putting this out there as a mirror on that and on our internet use (also, wider media consumption) in general. How much of what we consume is useful? How much of it is useful enough to improve our livelihood and advance our career path?  How much of it is distraction? Of course we individually know the answers to these type of questions. We are living the same experience, that of the information age, but we are not all on the same page and that is largely the point. Whether you are an early adopter or a noob, the net has become a part of daily life for a large amount of people and within that there is a sense of pressure that you need to be part of the latest trend or get left behind. But what do we leave behind?

I have personally noticed myself falling out of contact with people who are not on a particular service, yet if I think about who my friends really are I realise that much of what I share publicly online is just talking to the wall… (literately in the case of Facebook and Twitter). I have much better conversations about internet culture offline! We are playing in walled gardens where it’s not so easy to look back to related news & themes already explored. So is social media really “social”? To a point it can be, depending on circumstances, but I would say for the most part social networks make us more insular, only seeking out similar world views and ignoring other points of view.  It is easy to ignore and to be ignored.

Fleeting tweets are a sign of the times. Here today, gone tomorrow, it fits perfectly with the rising ‘culture of amnesia’ even within this information age. Tie this in with the age of the popularity contest and reality television and we can see trends signalling a future based on a cold dehumanising format of competition for everything under the auspice of entertainment. All the while, co-operation and compromise suffer.

People are talking out loud online, for all to hear, in a way they would rarely do in real life. But how much of this is real? It’s worth looking at the history of online communication and it’s move from writing honestly behind aliases to cautiously concerning ourselves about privacy in an age where using your real name on Facebook etc. is the norm. I have aliases, akas, pseudonyms, incognitos, whatever you want to call them and I have them for many reasons. Some of them are quite transparent and could be seen to defeat the purpose but that depends on your point of view. My latest name is Mark O’ Cúlár (albeit without the fadas on the facebook) so I guess that is my stage name, but I’m not hiding behind it.

I am a creator (as well as a part-time consumer) and need to be able to turn off the distractions at will. Very often, I feel I am holding back on many things and I am the type who bites off more than they can chew. I have big ideas aplenty which I can’t pursue without help and input from others and I spend (waste?) a lot of time trying to foster genuine collaborative approaches to work.  I have always been more of an observer who tries not to be reactionary, but instead to try to see the bigger picture. However, I do react and it’s not always the right reaction, but this is a way for me to learn. I keep coming back to this space, my blog, a space I created for myself to express some of my thoughts on the world around me and have largely neglected to do so (after all, it plugs in easily to all the points of sharing and distribution).  So I will endeavour to use this space as my primary outlet for words on the web again, all the rest of my net output is conjecture.

I realise I am bordering on sounding like a luddite here but I assure you I am anything but. I am most definitely, a technophile. To me, technology should allow us to all have equal opportunity in life and, dare I say it, bring us closer to an age resembling a utopia (the kind R. Buckminster Fuller envisioned). There is a need to demystify technology and encourage the fixing of things rather than the binning of things. But as always, there are those who crave more money and power and benefit grossly from an unfair world based on economic slavery. I hope the advancement of border-less human communication through technology teaches us to work together rather than against each other.