Back from my foray to Europe, I’m getting caught up on plenty of interesting articles.
I commend to you Michael Warren Davis, associate editor of The Catholic Herald, writing in The American Conservative. The subtitle reads: “If it means shutting off social media and putting down our phones, then we should all be so fortunate.”
Davis is hardly a supporter of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, AKA AOC. “Her Green New Deal,” he says, “is absurd.” But the nostalgic Davis fantasizes about “redirecting travelers from airports to railways.” Should we, Davis asserts in a kind of sarcastic modest proposal, ban cars?
“I actually think,” Ocasio-Cortex told Yahoo three or four months ago, “that social media poses [sic] a public health risk to everybody…increased isolatuib, depression, anxiety, addiction, escapism.” Meanwhile, Davis sources a British psychologist about people absorbed into social media sites tending to be “less likely to feel empathy, patience, or compassion…[and]…quicker to judge…more dangerously reactive in their anger.”
Mr. Davis asks whether 280-letter tweets are akin to escalating from “high-fructose corn syrup.”
I like the part when he says using Facebook to “keep with friends” is comparable to last century’s “I read Playboy for the articles.”
Well, would life be better without social media and smartphones? Maybe we would be better off with organic food, no preservatives or additives and, for that matter, growing vegetables in our own garden, getting eggs from our chicken, milking our own cows. But we can’t turn back the clock — at least not with social media and smartphones. I won’t list all the ways smartphones make our life easier and help us manage our time more effectively. But WE — not the smart phone manufacturers, are responsible with for the anti-social aspects, for leaning over and hurting our backs, for staring at a screen without a break, for not keeping away the smartphone (after all, it’s a high powered small computer) from our ear and intead using the speaker phone, for texting (or not texting) while driving, and so forth.
Surely Davis is tongue-in-cheek. he urges “(J)oin me in taking up the Luddite cause..to save our souls…delete all yor social media accounts..unsubscribe from Amazon Prime, Netflix…have a local paper delivered to your home..donate to your local classical music station..trade your smartphone in for a flip-phone.” Davis readily concedes that “we can’t un-invent digital technology”; after all, he notes, “navigating in the car is the a kink I haven’t worked out as of yet.”
“Like heroin,” Davis writes, “maybe the Internet might have been an innocent pleasure if only we could have used it responsibly.”
I, for one, do not think we can use heroin responsibly. But all of us can work together, and without the heavy hand of government, we can use the Internet responsibly.