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What's happening to us?
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Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
What's happening to us? on 04/22/2011 08:45:27 MDT Print View

I had to stay at work late for a meeting on Wednesday. At around 5PM I went down to the local coffeehouse. I'm not a regular there as I work pretty far from home. As I opened the door, I noticed it was packed.

And then I was shocked by the silence.

Without one exception, everyone was either staring at a laptop screen or fiddling with an electronic device.

No conversation. No Interaction. No chess or playing cards. Nobody sitting and drawing.




I took my coffee to go and went to the park.

Corey Downing
(hardcorey) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: What's happening to us? on 04/22/2011 08:52:10 MDT Print View

There are just different types of coffee houses. I've been to ones where everyone is concentrating on their computer with headphones on, and I've been to ones that are loud and lively with numerous conversations happening among friends.

It's unfortunate that the number of coffee houses like those you saw are growing, however. Everyone offers free Wi-Fi to compete with the place down the street and people start bringing out the computers and it becomes a place to work or facebook that also serves coffee and snacks.

Perhaps a new movement should arise to take back coffee houses as a place to converse and socialize. Sure beats "poking" people on facebook.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: What's happening to us? on 04/22/2011 08:58:12 MDT Print View

So, what did you do?

Get on this site and complain that everyone is just using the computer and not interacting with each other : )

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: What's happening to us? on 04/22/2011 09:00:55 MDT Print View

Notice I said "us"?

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Re: Re: What's happening to us? on 04/22/2011 09:40:50 MDT Print View

Yeah, I'm retired. I don' know how to use thos god be'leesed computater thingee's.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: What's happening to us? on 04/22/2011 09:58:52 MDT Print View

Interesting to observe humans. The glow of a digital device draws us into a web where we become tangled and in some cases have portions of our selves sucked out of our souls. The spider then licks its lips and meets to discuss marketing strategy.

PS

Today at Starbux you get free cup if you take your refillable cup. I normally don't frequent the place, but if it's free - go for it. Was really good.

Observation: I was the only one in line with refillable and taking up on the Earth Day free be. About a dozen people in line. I saw one laptop at a table, but the table was crowded with loud group. Was good to see humans win : )

David Lutz
(davidlutz)

Locale: Bay Area
"What's happening to us?" on 04/22/2011 10:24:10 MDT Print View

Another way to look at it is that those folks probably could have been on their computer/PDA at home. Instead they chose to seek out a public place where they are part of a social interaction, however tenuous.

I always wonder why/how people work in a public place like that. It would never work for me as an inveterate, compulsive people-watcher with a short attention span.

David Olsen
(oware)

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Re: What's happening to us? on 04/22/2011 10:32:57 MDT Print View

It's the economy "".

Internet access costs 50+ bucks a month all told. Many people are taking advantage of
free internet at coffee houses.

Same with cell phones, many are dropping home lines and using their cell as the only
phone.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
What's happening to us? on 04/22/2011 10:38:53 MDT Print View

I'm not knocking all aspects of the use of technology.
This computer allows me to turn an empty, isolated office break into a chance to chew the fat with people online- and many real-world, in-person relationships have developed because of it.

But on the flip side, so much of this technology seems to be changing the atmosphere of social spaces into increasingly isolated ones.

Corey Downing
(hardcorey) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: "What's happening to us?" on 04/22/2011 10:44:50 MDT Print View

For many people it's to get away from the distractions at home.

I think for most of us it's the gear closet/room/garage/basement/amish barn. I can spend a lot of time in there.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: What's happening to us? on 04/22/2011 12:04:12 MDT Print View

Craig,

BINGO!! BINGO!! BINGO!!

I use technology everyday. It has made me more productive and it has allowed me to earn more money. I also train people how to sell and how to provide great customer service...

The technology is often a barrier between people and communication. Instead of building rapport and relationships with customers, sales people are typing on a computer, making little eye contact. A few months ago a customer asked my opinion on using tablets in their sales department, and asked what I thought about them... my reply, "How will they benefit your customers?" Blank-out. I told him that I use technology everyday, it is important to me. But the tablet might be a barrier to communication. Teach your staff how to connect with people instead.

Cashiers cannot make change. If something has a sign on it that it is on sale, they cannot get the right price into the computer. Salespeople in stores are almost comatose and cannot form a smile with their face. Don't like the self-serve scanner in a store? Tell the manager you want to interact with people and take your business somewhere else.

Kids do not go out and play army, cowboys & indians, hide and seek, etc. Games that require imagination, creativity, innovation, enthusiasm, human interaction, energy and activity. Instead they play games on a screen and delve into a labyrinth of isolated fantasy. They are getting obese. Kids do not read books, they watch the movie and write a book report; or worse go on the internet and copy one. This is the fault of the parents.

Schools are starting to think that learning cursive writing has no value. Learning cursive requires eye-hand coordination, practice, and even thinking. Take calculators out of schools and only use them in higher level courses... better yet, use a slide rule first, then migrate to technology.

People socialize via email, Facebook and Twitter. People with cell phones don't call, they text. No one texts me... they know I will call them and chew them out. I don't use social networks... how much time a day do I save by doing so? We do not need daily or hourly communication with everyone we know. A phone call once in a while to distant friends worked for nearly a century. Free yourself and your time. Families do not sit a the table, have a meal together and talk anymore... they watch TV and eat in silence.

People cannot fix their plumbing, cars, a lamp, a bicycle; they have an "expert" do it. People are afraid to even read a book and attempt to fix something, even though the amount of information available is growing exponentially.

People are risk adverse. 200 years ago hordes of people hopped onto covered wagons, on horseback, or walked west... even without a map. Today we need sat phones and SPOTs to take Boy Scouts on 5 day hikes... parents want an update every 30 minutes. Hikers need smart phones, GPS, iPods to hike. What has happened to us? Backpackers used to be able to hike all the same places we do without any of this stuff. Learn to be self reliant. Turn off your electricity for a week and see if you can exist without technology.

People are afraid to talk to strangers. Years ago when I would get into an elevator filled with strangers, I would joke, "You all are probably wondering why I called this meeting," and everyone would laugh and start to talk. Today when I do it, everyone looks down at the floor and move away from me and hug the walls of the elevator in fear and silence.

Today in every day life and in business when I am talking to people, they whip out their phone and look at the latest text message that just came in. As if it is the normal and acceptable thing to do.

People get much of their news and information from the Web. They don't even question it, even if it came from some blog. If it doesn't seem logical or feasible, they still accept it as true or valid.

Technology can be a tool to enhance our lives, or it can be a bromide for fear, anxiety, and an escape from reality. It is not the technology, it is us. Use the technology to enhance your life, not control it. And learn the difference.

Do what I did with my kids. No cell phones, no video games, use a computer to teach... and monitor its use. They can walk to school, they don't need a car or bus. It only takes an hour to walk 3 miles. Encourage or make your kids go outside and play. They do not need to join a team to play soccer or baseball. Teach your kids to go outside and be free. Go outside with them. Be a parent. Grow a garden, raise some chickens or rabbits to teach your children about life. Don't let electronics and teachers provide moral values and ethics to your children, that is your job. It all starts at home.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Re: What's happening to us? on 04/22/2011 12:20:23 MDT Print View

Nick,

Excellent post! As a fellow boomer I can relate with no problem to your commentary. However, I wonder if younger generations are able to connect to what you are saying.

When I was a kid, I was outside as often and as long as possible because that is where the other kids where. Today most kids are inside most of the time because that is where the plugs are.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: What's happening to us? on 04/22/2011 12:25:47 MDT Print View

My understanding is that the TV utterly ruined communal life as known for millennia. Storytellers, puppet troupes, etc., etc. all fell by the wayside. As soon as they were financially able, families bought TV's and basically "shut out" their neighbors.

The computer is 'infinitely' more captivating / interactive than the TV. Great for shutting out the family as well! Sigh...

Edited by ben2world on 04/22/2011 12:26:43 MDT.

Corey Downing
(hardcorey) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: What's happening to us? on 04/22/2011 12:35:36 MDT Print View

Woah, where to begin on this one...

"Take calculators out of schools and only use them in higher level courses... better yet, use a slide rule first, then migrate to technology."

Did you ever realize that maybe so many children despise mathematics because they are forced to repeat basic calculations over and over again? If anything, math is taught backwards. Start with concepts, ideas, and real problems. Show kids how math can solve those problems at a high level. Get the interest of a few and they will want to know how the computer or calculator arrived at the solution. Then teach them. And they will become the next generation of mathematicians and engineers. I spent so much time in math classes having to perform manual computations that I don't recall there being much instruction on useful skills like problem solving and the concepts involved, and I nearly obtained a minor in Math. That is sad.

"Schools are starting to think that learning cursive writing has no value."

I wish that were the case. I use cursive to sign my name, that is all. The only other time I used it was to write a statement on the SAT saying that I would not cheat. It is my opinion that gym, music, and art classes are just as good at teaching eye-hand coordination as well as providing other benefits. The amount of time spent learning cursive was an entire waste. I didn't use it then unless I had to and I don't use it now and I almost certainly never will.

"People socialize via email, Facebook and Twitter. People with cell phones don't call, they text. No one texts me... they know I will call them and chew them out. I don't use social networks... how much time a day do I save by doing so?"

These are perfectly legitimate means of socializing. Perhaps your dinosaur claws are deficient at using keyboards or the number pads on cell phones.

"People are afraid to talk to strangers. Years ago when I would get into an elevator filled with strangers, I would joke, "You all are probably wondering why I called this meeting," and everyone would laugh and start to talk. Today when I do it, everyone looks down at the floor and move away from me and hug the walls of the elevator in fear and silence."

I would move away from anyone that would make such an awful joke in public as well.

"Today in every day life and in business when I am talking to people, they whip out their phone and look at the latest text message that just came in. As if it is the normal and acceptable thing to do."

Sorry, I missed what you typed because I was checking Twitter. A friend informing the world of the cheeseburger he had for lunch being delicious was a more compelling read.

--

Sorry if I came off as rude or unduly harsh. The truth is you sound like the stereotypical person that fears technology an advancement. People use technology becuase it has enhanced our lives. No one is stopping you from growing your own food or wandering off into the woods without a map/compass/GPS. But these tools exist and have made the outdoors more accessible.

I'm sorry you feel it's necessary to keep your children off the computer outside of "educational" use. I learned a lot more from the computer and the internet than I did in any classroom or from reading any book.

Today people are more connected to each other than they have been in human history. Just because they're not talking to the people they're physically adjacent to them doens't mean they're not communicating with people. When a friend or family member moves across the country or overseas, keeping in touch is possible now. A century ago all you could do was write a letter.

--

Read some more. You guys must all be really old. What was it like riding around on a triceratops?

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Re: What's happening to us? on 04/22/2011 12:36:22 MDT Print View

Good point about TV.

The older folks that are still around talk about sitting around the radio in the years before TV. You did not stare at a screen. You could lie down on a couch looking up. You could look at each other. There was still room for imagination: you had to conjure up your own images from the audio.

Another point about our current technology: it is very fragile. I don't think most of its users fully realize just how fragile it is.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: What's happening to us? on 04/22/2011 12:41:51 MDT Print View

"The computer is 'infinitely' more captivating / interactive than the TV."

Outside/the real world is infinitely more captivating and interactive than the computer, but we don't seem to be showing/teaching our children that.....

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: What's happening to us? on 04/22/2011 12:42:12 MDT Print View

fred

Misfit Mystic
(cooldrip)

Locale: "Grand Canyon of the East"
RE: What's happening to us? on 04/22/2011 12:45:19 MDT Print View

Corey, I think you missed most of Nick's points; it's probably your youthful short attention span. On the technology front, word processing programs will correct the spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors you made in your tirade, since English was apparently one of those classes you found to have little value.

Nate Meinzer
(Rezniem) - F

Locale: San Francisco
Meh on 04/22/2011 12:46:49 MDT Print View

There are coffee shops where everyone is socializing and it's too loud to read and the crowd spills out onto the sidewalk on a nice day. Then there are those that are a library, with everyone doing work. Both serve a purpose. If I want to get work done at a coffee shop, I certainly don't want to be forced to socialize with a stranger--which, sad to say, is almost always a bigger waste of time than what I do online.

Alot of what Craig said is true, but we also have more information at our fingertips than the president did 20 years ago. It's awesome. Take the good with the bad, and try maintain some balance? It can take effort.

Corey Downing
(hardcorey) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: RE: What's happening to us? on 04/22/2011 12:57:33 MDT Print View

I purposefully ignored the points that had some merit. Some people spend a lot of time inside, watching TV and bookfacing. I would contend, however, that these people have always existed in society and always will exist.

My general impression of Nick is that he desires a return to the stone age because those darned kids are wasting away playing video games.

I am biased. I am young. I am a software engineer. I have spent a great deal of my time on the computer, both learning and playing video games. However, I now spend about as much time as I can afford backpacking. I am slowly moving towards biking to work in a rather bike-unfriendly community.

There are good and bad things about technology. There also good and bad things about going outside. There is not a single activity in the world that is entirely good. But technology is not going anywhere. It is not going to slow down or stop. You either adapt or you get meteored. Your choice.