Internethead

Unhappiness and screentime are related. I don’t want to bring up unhappy children. But there is Peer Pressure, Social Media, and Boredom to deal with. My children weren’t happy with me taking away smartphones, laptops, and tablets, but then studies show that they would be unhappy if I don’t take this stuff away – and worst, I could end up with depressed (and potentially suicidal) teenagers. So I had to do it; as a parent, it’s my job.

The charity Action For Children finds that a staggering one in four parents struggles to control their children’s screen use.

The first thing that had to change was MY use of these gadgets; you lead by example, don’t you? This is also hard.

Insidiously, this stuff has replaced the old ways of newspapers, wandering around shops and looking at clocks. I wasn’t looking to be a new age hippy or getting all Jesuit about it. It’s about increasing happiness.

These gadgets can be useful, as long as they are not addiction driven, or considered the default. People are fidgets – that’s why everyone smoked cigarettes in the bad old days. These days it’s the phone. Bad habits for idle moments.

So I began last November (2017) by coming off social media, leaving my phone behind, and demonstrably using gadgets less. Cookbooks were taken down from the shelf. Clocks told me the time. I used my brain to remember where places were and I figured out how to get there.

Have I got happier? Yes! I would say so. I went onto facebook today – for the first time since – and I no longer need to participate, after all, who cares if I “like” or “share” something that I instantly forget and really only was a knee-jerk reaction to show some level of approval? Vanitas. Bottom line is that my views are not terribly important, the effort is wasted.

So I am relieved and happier to have broken the bad habit. What about my children?

Well, this has been more difficult, to be honest. But it really does make a difference. I have seen it with my own eyes.

It’s all about showing them HOW to use a device as a tool for a purpose, and not to depend on it to alleviate boredom. My wife keeps saying that boredom is good as it makes you more creative; you invent something in daydream moments and similar weird mental states (like the eureka moment in the bath, or when waiting for a bus, gazing out of a train window, or sitting under a tree like Isaac Newton).

I do think it is weird and dystopian when I see crowds of children wandering to school each morning while staring at the screen on their mobile.

The biggest problem for my wife and me is that we slowly allowed the screen to allow us to get mummy-daddy time. The screen was a babysitter. My son now says “I’m bored – what can I do?” and he’s looking at ME. That is the challenge – see the Bob Granleese article below for what’s it’s like to try this.

The other aspect that gladdens my heart is that it reduces all those other risks – grooming, adverts, cyber-bullying, brain-washing, and exposure to radicalisation.

It is hard but rewarding. As a recovering addict, I would recommend less social media and less screen time to everyone. Go do a blog every few weeks if you cannot go “cold turkey”.

The main thing is to say goodbye to being an internethead.

Refs:

“Phone-addicted teens really ARE miserable: Scientists warn young people should limit their screen time to just two hours a day to boost happiness” By HARRY PETTIT FOR MAILONLINE PUBLISHED: 14:11, 22 January 2018 | UPDATED: 19:55, 23 January 2018

“Teens who spend less time in front of screens are happier — up to a point, new research shows” By Tara Bahrampour 22 January 2018

“Why are British kids so unhappy? Two words: screen time” by Bob Granleese The Guardian Thu 7 Jan 2016 12.24 GMT

“Limit children’s screen time, expert urges” By Hannah Richardson, BBC News education and family reporter
9 October 2012

 

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Guilty Until Proven Innocent

I was always told that people were innocent until proved otherwise.

It’s about something called “The Benefit of the Doubt”.

It’s a default position. It puts the onus on the accuser so that we can all get on with life without having to defend ourselves constantly.

It’s a good idea; the bad guys get caught and the good guys that are wrongly accused are safe.

Except that it’s no longer true.

It worries me that “allegations” and “accusations” have predominance in the media these days.

As far as I can tell – at this point in time nothing has been proved against Jimmy Savile, Kevin Spacey, Woody Allen, James Levine, Harvey Weinstein, Louis CK and many others.

So – in law and supposedly IRL – these guys are safe and innocent until a jury decides guilt. Right?

 

Important Status Update

All major headlines require you to make an official response on social media. It’s a new law.

Previously, important people were expected to issue a statement to the press when something big happened, like the death of an important person, an earthquake, flood, tsunami, volcanic eruption or act of terror.

Today, however, EVERYONE is compelled to do this.

This is because, in the past, it took a great effort to put pen to paper, lick a stamp, walk to the post box and then wait for possible publication in the letters page of the organ of choice, but today it’s a social media status update, done in a few seconds with a thumb.

You are, at the very least, expected to respond to the news post by clicking on an emoticon for crying, or that depicts shock or anger. If you really are bothered enough, you may make an actual comment.

Sometimes there is a call for further action – to “share”, to sign a petition, to send thoughts and prayers, or even to change your avatar profile picture to something with a flag on it.

Doing nothing is not an option.

And what do you do when there has not been a major event and you have the usual burning desire to comment to your followers and friends? You have to find a meme or fake news,  or anything that allows you to issue a public statement and share your dearly held views.  There are plenty of meme generators click baiters for that very reason.

We’re all important broadcasters and commentators now. Infatuation with information has met with egocentricity and narcissism.

Infatuation with information merges with egocentricity and narcissism.

And when that happens, nothing could be less social than social media.

Sometimes I wonder if this is the way the baddies might win. I often wonder why we register or acknowledge such events and then move on to the next thing. Perhaps if we didn’t feed them, the monsters would quit and leave us to have a social time on social media.

 

Sexism and Politics

The Trump sexism thing has really blown up.

Recently, the Washington Post found and shared a secretly recorded conversation (from 11 years ago) between Access Hollywood’s Billy Bush and Donald Trump. They were both lewd and Trump boasted that he can do anything he wants to women because he’s a television star – including “grabbing them by the pussy.”

Since then Trump has become the US Republican Presidential Nominee, so it’s a big deal – right? Sexism loses votes – doesn’t it?

I am not sure because of what happened in Australia with Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott, and the famous “Misogyny Speech” given by Julia Gillard on 9th October 2012.

At that time Julia Gillard was Australia’s first female Prime Minister (from 2010-2013), and she suffered a lot of lewd comments every single day as leader of the Labor Party and as PM. She was very often openly called a bitch and a witch, and widely mocked in the media. Her hair and clothes were always being commented upon, and all of it was about her gender – not her results, leadership, effective governance, debating style, intellect or politics. And she put up with it every day until she snapped and made the speech that went viral on the internet.

In this famous speech in parliament, she directly faced Tony Abbott – the Leader of the Opposition sitting across the forum – and let loose. She did not miss. She listed all the things he had said and done to her right to his face. It was a roast.

“I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man; I will not.”
– PM Julia Gillard about Tony Abbott

Gillard described comments by François Hollande and Helle Thorning-Schmidt: “The president of France congratulated me on the speech, as did the Prime Minister of Denmark, and some other leaders, just casually as I’ve moved around, have also mentioned it to me.” US President Barack Obama reportedly complimented Gillard on the speech in a private conversation following his re-election, and his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, praised the speech as “very striking” with Gillard going “chapter and verse.”

Some dictionaries updated their definition of “misogyny”  from “hatred of women” to the broader “entrenched prejudices of women.”

This was a Big Deal – Global leaders’ support, viral video, dictionary redefinitions, massive support and encouragement… so what happened next?

Well, Tony Abbott got over his roast, everyone forgave him for the sexist comments he made and his world-famous misogyny… and he became Prime Minister of Australia from 2013 -2015.

So, hey, it’s just the way men talk, it’s Locker Room Banter; all bravado and silliness. Boys will be boys, eh?

And clearly perfectly natural, totally forgivable and totally forgettable.

 

 

Facebookery

I got a new phone and facebook doesn’t like it.

It finally killed me.

Here’s the thing with smartphone apps – they are too difficult for me to read; I can’t adjust the font or text size.

The solution is simple – just use the browser. Web pages can be zoomed in.

However, since getting my new phone and browser, every time I try to visit facebook, it locks me out of the account and sends me an email.

Then, when I say it is me after all, facebook insists that I change my password.

The first time is annoying; who likes thinking up passwords? After a while, it gets more tricky to think up a new password that contains some kind of memorable rationale.

Today it finally got me beat. I can’t remember the password, so it’s goodbye facebook I suppose.

I will take this as a sign that a break is needed. If I return, I will have to think up a new name but my password can return to my original one! On the other hand, it is a lot of setting up – and that is daunting; it took me ages to get into all those groups, to like all those pages, and to get facebook providing me the feed experience that kept me coming back to be updated on music and arts.

I suppose I can put those energies into twitter, wordpress, feedly and so forth, because one thing is for sure – I can’t go back to being fed news and sport on mainstream media.

Name & Shame

Poor Old Madonna – she stumbled on live telly, poor thing. She’ll never live it down. It’s a world of Schadenfreude these days.

But she’s not alone… everyone is at risk. Even YOU. The internet tells me this.

But you know what – I’ve had enough.

I’m not perfect, a fact that will probably one day be filmed and uploaded to my eternal embarrassment or shame.I don’t know who is worse – those who park “selfishly” or those who write an angry, sweary, note, put it on the windscreen, take a photograph of it, and then upload it. Or else get all confrontational while putting it all on video to share with the entire world.

They are reducing the number of parking spaces but there are more cars. Spaces are smaller as cars are bigger. It is a government conspiracy.

I’m sick of name and shame videos and pictures about bad parking, littering, dog fouling, or whatever. It’s all a plot to distract us from real issues.

How can anyone be considerate when they are under such a general threat. We’re turning against ourselves, it’s dog eat dog and everyone for themselves!

It’s just not right that we should be afraid all the time in case we make a mistake and it becomes an internet meme, goes viral or gets you a fine or jailtime. Let’s get back to being afraid of criminals and terrorists instead of “normal people”. let’s return to despising governments, the taxman, traffic wardens and “the authorities”, we need to stick together, not grass and snitch and clype.