Casually my son informed me that as a species we were breeding out the redhead and soon they would be no more. I assume he meant because of the melting pot that is the portion of humanity that the Westerner is privileged to be part of rather than the rest of the world that still has its pretty sharp ethnic and cultural divides. Sweeping statements are pretty popular with people as a whole, as are the latest pet theories on what is wrong with us, or what is bad for us.
Cell phones are going to give us all cancer and the internet is killing our social skills. I have read a number of dire predictions, mostly targeting Facebook (because it has gone completely main stream and you can even find your Granny on it now), that we will lose our ability to socialize face to face. The rise of socially inept geeks is all due to the internet. Yes. That’s you reading this. Right now your brain is rotting and your social skills are ebbing away with each click of your mouse.
I’m here to say: Balderdash.
Yet again it’s a bunch of eggheads blaming the symptoms for the malady. The majority of us are using the internet as a useful tool. Even those of us, like me, that find themselves online for a great deal of time every day, aren’t necessarily losing track of our real lives. We still have spouses, kids, birthday parties, and game nights, trips to the beach, hikes, and a myriad of other activities. It’s a relief to get up from the computer and head out to the garden and get my hands dirty in soil.
The problem is serious and it’s out there, however, but it’s not the internet’s fault. That’s another case of saying guns kill people rather than people kill people. Kids and social loners spending all their time online and losing track of reality is a problem with their home life, and society at large. It’s easier and easier for people to feel isolated and removed from other people in our mega-malls and sprawling urban or suburban areas where we emphasize commercialism as the true god of our society. The fact that our TV sucks and the shows are often crude, crass, and mindless banal is a symptom too – not the source. Our media reflects us, not the other way around.
The problems in our society are so deep and pervasive that I can’t address them in a short blog, nor do I have the expertise to suggest the answers. All I can say is that when someone suggests a social networking site is bad for you ask yourself the question: do I spend too much time online at the expense of friends and family? If the answer is yes don’t blame your computer. The answer does not lie in your Ethernet cable. There are other issues at stake.