Intergenerational tech talk

“I need Facebook like I need a hole in my head.” This is what I imagine my Dad saying if I asked him why he’s not on it. The hole in the head saying is one that he probably used only a handful of times when I was young, but my imagination did a great job of creating a vivid picture of what he’d look like; a small tunnel passage running from the front to the back of his noggin so I could see straight through. I still picture this anytime I’m offered something that feels more like a burden than a blessing. Free XXL t-shirt giveaway? It might as well be a promise to have a hole drilled in my head. No thanks!

I know a number of people who don’t use fb. Back when it was first getting popular, I remember hearing many conversations in restaurants and coffee shops, where one friend would be trying to convince another why they should get on. It sounded suspiciously similar to when an adolescent wants to experiment with drugs but doesn’t want to do it on their own, so they convince their friend to try it with them.

I don’t ask my non fb friends why they aren’t on it with the intention to get them using; if anything, I like hearing the thoughtful reasons why they have decided to stay off it. I also don’t take quickly to new apps; it took me a couple of years to get on Instagram, despite a close friend’s point of how it was the ideal app for me and my photo loving self.

K and I had one of my younger brothers and his girlfriend over for dinner last night. Social media came up in conversation, as it tends to do (by genius design of its creators?!), and I was finally properly schooled in Snapchat. Definitely not in a proselytizing way, more like a respectful fyi overview from the younger generation. I particularly appreciate the perspective I gained from the young woman who explained live stories and live story events to K and me. Besides shedding light on the additional features that Snapchat has added since its start, one particular comment she made resonated with me. “With Snapchat I don’t have to worry about the ‘likes’ a photo gets.”

Dealing with real life approval was enough when I was in high school and in my 20’s, being reminded that that struggle now spans across all social media made me feel sad about the human-technology relationship. Technology is great when we can use it as a tool, but when we start being controlled by it, seems more like we’re prisoners. Trapped by the habits we form, of checking whatever app every five minutes, or worse, interrupted by constant push notifications that make us feel like we’re missing out on what’s going on in our phones. Feels like a huge hole in the head.

When I was on my walk this morning I tried to understand why it is that I prefer Instagram over Snapchat and ultimately landed on the fact that with Instagram, it feels like I’m compiling a composition of things I see and feel compelled to capture in a snapshot. The documentation is mostly for myself to remember the moment, but I do like the fact that friends on Instagram can see them too. Snapchat seems more focused on frequent sharing with friends. Is Snapchat the extrovert’s Instagram? Or maybe I’m just using Instagram like the introvert that I am and extraverts on there are engaging way more with comments and likes. Do people who enjoy listening to an entire, well composed music album prefer Instagram while those who grew up downloading singles from iTunes sway toward Snapchat? I don’t know. All I know is that technology is not going away and I will have to continue sorting out what is a real need, what’s nice to have, and what dozens of things to say no thanks to, so my head doesn’t end up looking like swiss cheese.

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