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Uploading and oversharing is taking over your life, and
#YOLO, so here’s how to make it work for you, @work and @play
At a bachelor party, a group of us went to a bar to watch rugby before braaing. Behold that sentence: it’s about beer, bromance, boerewors and bachelorhood. There’s so much testosterone in it I had to shave it halfway through writing it. What better way to mark a new journey in a mate’s life than with drinking, sport, meat and talking about Steve Jobs?
Wait. What? It only took a few minutes for conversation to slide to Steve and his sleek creations. The man who ressurected companies – and very nearly the turtleneck – has left hordes of red-blooded males frothing at the features of the forthcoming, soon-to-be outdated iThing.
This is the natural course of chit-chat in the modern age. We’ve become so synchronised with gadgets that it’s making us, well, weird. Research shows more and more people feeling unfulfilled and anxious about organising their lives according to the product strategies of Silicon Valley.
Euro RSCG Worldwide, a marketing communications agency, surveyed 7 213 adults from 19 countries, including South Africa, about their perceptions of the technologically advanced lives that we live. The results were as depressing as the comments on local news sites. The survey found that more than half of those surveyed expressed worry that digital communication is weakening interpersonal bonds.
The findings showed that 60% of the
global respondents believe that, in the digital age, society is heading in the wrong direction. That’s right – all those LOLcats are having the opposite effect. And four out 10 feel that they’re wasting their lives.
Half believe that digital technology – and the multitasking it instigates – is impairing our abilities to focus on productivity. Blame the minimise button, which lets me listen to illegally downloaded music, stalk my ex on Facebook, stay up to date with my heroes’ bodily functions on Twitter, harass my future ex on Gmail Chat and write emails asking for extensions on the deadline for this story. When, actually, I should be just writing this.
According to the Euro RSCG report, “around two-thirds believe society has become too shallow, focusing too much on things that don’t really matter”. Things that don’t really matter? Could this perhaps include Facebook users proclaiming how hungry/lonely/hungover/aroused they are? Or how it seems increasingly difficult to digest food without photographing and filtering it until your macaroni cheese looks like one your dad might have photographed in the Sixties with his Kodak Brownie because he wanted to finish the film.
The study showed that six out of 10 people are over all this oversharing, and 70% claimed the younger generation has no sense of personal privacy. (To me, this reveals the study’s authenticity: it wouldn’t be a proper survey if it didn’t have adults grumbling about the youth of today.)
The analysis also revealed the root
of the anthropological controversy of our time: hipsters. Bear with me here.
Findings from the study indicate a push for a hybrid style of living that keeps current amenities while holding onto traditional values. The report predicts a demand for organic produce and artisan-made products, claiming, “people will seek to temper the new with the old, the digital with the analogue.” That’s not a prediction; it’s already happening.
Scorn them if you will, but hipsters – and their ability to rule vintage kiffness with an ironic fist – are where we are all heading. Hipsterism requires devotees to embody a vintage approach to life while remaining connected enough to tell everyone about this.
Analysts suggest the hipster’s yearning for organic croissants goes beyond a love for the smell of freshly baked carbon neutrality in the morning, identifying it as a desire for the values of an era when every picture had a vignette and was sepia-tinted because that’s just how photography was. Except now you can upload that picture of said croissant with a quick fondling of a touchscreen and blow everyone’s mind with your gallery of retro-styled pastries. Which, in turn, makes people more fed up with the oversaturation of the mundane and pressures them to experiment with craft beer and vinyl records.
So what are you to do? Shunning tech-nology is not an option. We wouldn’t want to give up our emails and our social media access – that just makes us grumpy, says Intersperience, a UK-based consumer research organisation that revealed that more than half of 1 000 adults felt upset at the thought of being deprived of Internet access for 24 hours.
We’ll always be in love with the things we choose to make extensions of ourselves. We’ve got calls to make, kilojoules to count, tweets to tweet, statuses to share, blogs to post and organs to photocopy at office parties, and the machines we choose to do this define us.
Technology is not the culprit here; it’s the side-effects and their eerie ability to slide beyond our control, like the burden of false advertising that comes with the personalities we parade online.
Of the 800 million Facebook users, a vast majority of us are living in fear of #thatawkwardmoment when people realise that we’re not the duckfacing extreme sports athletes our profiles say we are.
It’s not that I’m ungrateful for the gizmos that make my life easier. Bless this MacBook Pro that I’m hacking this piece out on. Bless the toaster that grills my daily bread. Bless the GPS that teaches me the versatility of the F-word. Yet despite the conveniences of technology, you can’t always see what’s really going on and that’s somewhat unnerving.
As technologically advanced as we think we are are (Remember how “executive” your Nokia 3310 made you feel?), we’re still the going to be known by anthropologists as the people who went to the bathroom with heavy, primitive machinery to take photos of themselves in the mirror.
We’re a society whose moods are steered by temperamental hard drives and the amounts of “likes” our witticisms get , whose relationships’ are in the hands of drunken tweets and predictive text faux pas.
What’s the moral of the story? Love your phone/free Wi-Fi/novelty flashdrive as much you want but don’t let it turn you into a dick. That way, you’ll get less anxious when someone compares the online jerk version that you’d like to be with the offline jerk that you are. Use technology to get the job done, and then do the things that matter. Clock in. Log off. Game on.
Just click through to these 5 tips that will make you better online , first