Internet Edition (2017)
Well, I don't know about you, but 2016 can't end soon enough for me.
Yes there were some highlights, a fantastic trip to Europe, some new friends, and of course great clients to work with. But it was a challenging year in many ways. And I put it all down to refusing to make any new year resolutions last January.
I know, I know, most people break their resolutions anyway. But think about it. Writing down a list of things that can help make you a better person in the new year is an admirable thing. And who knows...maybe some of it will sink in.
So with that in mind, I am putting my 2017 new year's resolutions in stone. At least the one's dealing with the Internet. The others I'll keep to myself. We should have some semblance of privacy in the modern world, after all.
Resolution 1: No More Click Bait!
Yeah, you know the stuff. You're just sitting there quietly, reading some interesting blog post, news or sports story on your smartphone or your desktop and then suddenly you see it. A picture of the Olsen Twins, saying "you won't believe what they look like now." Or countdowns like "The 50 Most Fanatical Fan Bases In Sports" that send you on an endless page by page view of photos with advertisements so heavy you can't find the "next photo" button. And so on.
That's right. They purposefully tease you and tempt you to click on them and get lost down some rabbit hole where the only person profiting is the person whose tricked some unsuspecting advertiser into associating themselves with this time waster.
It all comes down to advertisers figuring out that you can't stand not knowing. In the age of "Google-it," so they've come up with this irresistible way to grab a piece of your time.
Well, I say NO MORE you foul tempters. My fingers and sanity don't need the workout. I have better ways of spending 2017, like
Resolution 2: Avoiding Facebook
The kids get it. Facebook is a dying platform. Sure, it may still be up and running and making investors tons of money. But really, how many pictures of your relatives and friend's kids can you look through?
I remember when I was a kid, there was a joke about people avoiding an invitation to go watch slides of their family vacations. And now we've turned it into an everyday event.
I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. I love that I have a way to get in touch with people I haven't talked to in months or years. In fact, I've reconnected with some amazing people from my past because of it.
But, just like that click-bait, there are moments when my hand goes to the URL box and I just start type "fa..." Like Pavlov's dog, I've been trained to take any downtime in my day and "check in" with the family photo albums, jokes and political commentary of the day. I find myself reading stuff that adds little or no value to my life or goals (at least not enough to spend 30 minutes a crack, at it).
The kids think Facebook is dying because it's full of old people who they don't want to share their secrets with. So they've moved on to Snapchat where their deeds can disappear in a few hours...and where the old farts aren't hanging out anyway.
I see Facebook as dying for me because the content, while fresh in terms of age, is kind of just stale old rehash that might be interesting once a week, rather than five times a day.
Plus, the ads are taking over the asylum. What Mark Zuckerberg wanted to have as a "cool" place without those nasty advertising distractions is getting closer to what MySpace used to be. At least he hasn't let people create their own templates yet.
And with tools that allow everybody to unfollow, who knows what friends are really around listening anyway. Heck, as the 2016 election cycle seemingly went into it's 20th year, I had unfollowed over 70% of the people I follow...I even missed a friend getting married because I was so trying to avoid politics. So, what use is it, really?
So, I'm not going away from Facebook, but once a day is enough. And I might just go to once every two days. Maybe I can regain control of my reflexes again.
Resolution 3: Goodbye Fake News
I'm not falling for it anymore CNN, FoxNews, MSNBC, Associated Press, etc. I'm through with opinion-journalism, or what I like to refer to as "Fake News."
Okay, so we've all heard how Mark Zuckerberg should be blamed for the election result due to fake news (or is it Russian hackers, or the Electoral College, I can't keep up). But I laugh everytime I hear someone say there is a way to control fake news.
The reason we fall for fake news is because we've let our journalists turn into commentators. No longer is there a story of cold hard facts, but instead, there has to be a slant or someone has to get the story out there quick, even if it means making it up as they go along.
Oh, I'm not that blind to not know there have always been "republican" newspapers and "democrat" newspapers, but in today's world, everyone goes off touting speculation by broadcasters and writers as facts. And people are only fed the stories that make the network or paper's larger political point.
If you want my true opinion about why we ended up with such a lousy choice in our election cycle, it was because we've all fallen pray to journalists, their opinions, the entertainment of it all, and our lack of turning the propagandist's garbage off. They only do it because they can make money off viewership or readers.
And it's no wonder they got it wrong. I even heard a journalist admit that the press pool thinks we're all idiots, waiting around for them to show us the way.
Sadly, when I was in Canada in November, someone asked me if my family was alright, with all the rioting in the United States. CNN was creating a mountain out of a mole hill with the 24/7 news cycle. I told them, don't believe everything you see on the news. What a depressing statement to have to make.
Thus it begs the question...how is Mark Zuckerberg going to define what Fake News is? Someone could argue that everything that CNN, FoxNews and MSNBC show is fake news. It is all commentary and opinion, not news. So, do you block all of this content from Facebook? Where do you draw the line on what is "Fake News?"
So, I'm trimming my news sources down to a very few. I've tried turning the news off 100% and while I did see my attitude improve, my mind rooted in the present, and my cholesterol lowered through a reduction in stress, I guess I just have a need to know.
I've pinned Reuters and VOA News as about the only two I can tolerate right now. They aren't perfect, but they are much better. I mean, the news sounds stale and boring...but that's just because no one is telling me how to think. I guess I'll take the trade off.