Living Digitally: Watching From Afar

A common public fret is that social media is destroying the fabric of society. You’ve undoubtedly seen an image of two people – usually teens – seated together but each intent on a mobile device. The implication is that these hand-held hypnotizers are preventing the two individuals from engaging each other in enriching bonding activities.

Bullshit.

There’s a good chance that they are texting friends, maybe making plans for a party later on, maybe sharing minutiae of the day. Why shouldn’t they? Why not interact with people who are important to you than with whatever random hunk of protoplasm fate has seen fit to plunk down beside you?

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For example, I spent several days last week watching on online friend* ride in the UPHA Chapter 5 Horse Show in Kansas City, MO, over 700 miles from my house. Ahead of time, she let us know the livestream website and her classes. I was able to wish her good luck before her ride. I watched her ride in realtime, including checking out the strength of the competition. Afterwards, I was able to congratulate or commiserate as appropriate. She was kind enough to post a brief recap of the class from her point of view. Was the experience any less real for not sharing the same cubic space?

We don’t live in caves any more. We don’t rely on our neighbors to scare off the tigers and hunt the mammoths. Why not seek out kindred souls at a distance? Why not chose friends by inclination rather than by geography?

(*Per my standard operating procedure [At Least I Got A Blog Post Out Of It:Names], I have defaulted to anonymity. The individual in question may fess up in the comments if so desired.)

Categories: Horses

4 replies »

  1. I almost agree 100%… what bugs me is when two or more kids are lounging around on a sofa playing games on their handheld devices and not interacting with each other or the real world at all.
    Texting, emailing, tweeting etc I think are great and enhance our lives (I loved your show-day tweets, for example, but I’m usually way too busy (or should that be stressed out?) to contemplate doing anything like that myself when I compete.
    One interesting effect of modern communication methods that I have observed in my own kids is that their generation is very bad at making arrangement.
    “I’ll meet you at the East entrance of the Mall at 7 O Clock” just doesn’t happen any more, it has become “I’ll text you when I get there.”
    Not a good thing, not a bad thing… just a different thing.

  2. Disgree 85%. The electronically-controlled youth are rapidly losing any form of socialization and social skills, as witnessed by kids who no longer know how to communicate in complete sentences.
    Yes it’s nice to be able to watch something in real-time at a distance. However, the consequences of too much reliance on instant communication is showing up in the workplace as these kids do not have the social skills to deal with real-life situations.

  3. Well I think the digital revolution has been great for adults at least – I don’t know enough non-horse involved kids to venture a guess about what it’s doing to them!

    What it HAS done is given me friends all across the country who are interested in and competing in the same divisions as I am, who root for me and offer comfort when my horse randomly chooses to buck for joy, or do a little volunteer work in the show ring. I have friends i’ve never met face to face, that I feel close to and watch their updates avidly. I’m sure if we ever meet we’ll have a blast.

    I had to attend Chapter 5 without my trainer, who didn’t have enough clients wanting to go to make it worth leaving the other horses behind. My mom and I did all the work and put my horse in the ring, and spent a lot of time updating facebook & texting to my family, barn friends, and trainer, to keep them informed about what was happening. I still managed to chat with and catch up with old friends that I hadn’t seen since last show season.

    I’m all for this technology, but like with anything, teens and children should be monitored, and probably have it taken away if they get to the point where they’re using it too much.

  4. Good points all around. One thing we can agree on, the technology is here to stay. Interesting to ponder how society might adapt over the next 10, 20, 50 years.

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