The Web Was A Better Place Before Social Media

In light of the recent data-sharing and privacy issues involving Facebook, I was going to write a rant…I mean, measured essay…on why I don’t use social media. But going through my archives I realized I had already written thousands of words on the subject. Here are the articles I’ve written – I’ll call it “The Social Media Trilogy.”

Thoughts On Social Media
Five Observations About Facebook And Twitter (and How To Survive Without Them)
Everything Is Stupid, Everything Is Exhausting

(Update: OK, I wrote a fourth one: The 10 People You Meet In Hell (aka Twitter).

Clifton Fadiman on privacy

Communication starts by being an aid, a convenience. It grows, grows, grows – like a tree if you like it, like a cancer if you don’t. In any case, it ends as a way of life. The transmission and reception of messages, almost irrespective of meaning, becomes an activity fascinating in itself. It can be deeply satisfying to certain temperaments that are outgoing, social, manipulative, present-minded. But it yields its last measure of satisfaction only if pushed to the last degree of development. This involves an ‘assault on privacy,’ or rather, as I believe, a common unconscious willingness to be assaulted.

…I think intrusion is here to stay and I think most of us want it that way. That is what I must remember when momentarily I am irritated by the shutter-snapping of the street corner photographer…He is part of a gigantic communications system by which many of us (and more of us all the time) live, continually taking in each other’s publicity…None of this is imposed on us. We made it.”

– “Who Wants To Be Alone?,” 1957

Dollar Sign

I was lucky enough not to have any major wind or flood damage from the various storms that have hit the area in the past few weeks (another one is coming tomorrow), but that doesn’t mean I’ve come though unscathed.

I lost my S.

I was getting my mail out of the mailbox yesterday when I noticed that the first “S” in my last name is missing. The stick-on letter must have blown away in the wind. For reasons you can probably figure out by looking at my last name I don’t want to leave it that way, so I rummaged though the junk drawer to find a replacement letter. Turns out I’m all out of the letter “S” (they really should include a few more) and putting any other letter completely changes my name.

So I’m going with the dollar sign. I don’t think anyone will notice since it’s basically an “S” with a thin line through it that isn’t too visible unless you’re up close. And as someone once said – I think it was Raymond Chandler – if it’s good enough for Ke$ha, it’s good enough for me.


That’s the name of the winter storm that’s going to hit us tomorrow.

What, you didn’t know that they’re giving names to snowstorms now? They (and by “they” I mean The Weather Channel) name each winter storm the way we name hurricanes. This is pointless, but like many things that are pointless, it’s also irritating.

The two other storms we’ve had recently were named Quinn and Riley. So we have Quinn, Riley, and Skylar. Apparently the storms this particular winter are named after the friends your kid has in their kindergarten class.

We could get 20 inches, with gusty winds and blizzard conditions. I love snow and winter weather – I’ll always take a cold December day over a warm June day – but even I have my limits. And that limit is “three nor’easters in a week and a half.”

Dumb Stuff

Interesting piece in The New York Times on how some “dumb” tech can be better than the smart stuff companies keep inventing.

I know what he means. A pen and a notebook make more sense to me if I need to take notes than an iPad or app. I still have my Timex because I want my watch to just tell me one piece of information, the time, not access all of my other devices.  I’m already online 10 hours a day so I don’t need a phone that can access the web (not being on social media helps). I don’t even own a cell right now. When I do get one again it’s going to be a flip phone, because my main goal with it will be… to make phone calls.

Dumb can be easier, clearer, more comforting. You don’t have to always upgrade dumb. There’s something to be said about separating the media and technology we use every day, getting away from all the screens and buttons. It gives you some mental breathing room.

“The Internet Of Things” is supposed to be a step forward but I have no desire to access the web from my toaster.

I’m happy about all of the things we can experience, watch, listen to, and do in 2018 (including being able to post the words you’re reading right now), but sometimes I just want to party like it’s 1959.