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 Posted:   Apr 7, 2017 - 7:31 AM   
 By:   Howard L   (Member)

The medium has become the message. No problem with nice tools, they have a beneficial place. 'S hilarious when people allow themselves to become tools of a tool. Would never admit to it but they're owned. They...are...owned.

 
 Posted:   Apr 7, 2017 - 7:50 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

The medium has become the message. No problem with nice tools, they have a beneficial place. 'S hilarious when people allow themselves to become tools of a tool. Would never admit to it but they're owned. They...are...owned.

Yeah, it reminds me of when they invented the wheel--families sitting around the stone dinner table mucking about with their newfangled wheels...we've changed little since then.

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 7, 2017 - 7:57 AM   
 By:   joan hue   (Member)

Thor, don't call yourself an "old geezer." That makes many of us totally mummified! Ack.

Howard certainly identified that problem when he said, "people allow themselves to become tools of a tool." Neat saying, Howard.

Unless a relative is dying, there really are not many excuses for people checking their phones ever other second when they've joined a social gathering, but it happens constantly.

 
 Posted:   Apr 7, 2017 - 8:43 AM   
 By:   Nicolai P. Zwar   (Member)

I could go without a TV or whatever before I could go without a smart phone anymore.

In fact, when talking about smart phones and how much people use them, it may be interesting to consider what it actually is they do with it. Smart phones can do a lot of things. It's not just phoning / texting.

Just for example, apart from communication I use my smart phone always or occasionally or from time to time to:

read / listen to books
listen to music (it's my portable player)
view movies
get and read news (i.e. currently the truck attack in Stockholm)
take pictures
take video
play an occasional game
review and order products
check in at airports and board planes
secure online banking
sync and check my appointments (I'd forget most of them otherwise)
alarm clock when traveling
remote control my TV
check the weather of traveling destinations
take notes (pictures, written or use as a dictating machine)
read my notes


and that's just from the top of my head the stuff I really regularly do... there's plenty more that I use less frequently. Years ago, I'd have had to carry around a whole bunch of devices around for all these functions, almost all of them bulkier than the tiny flat piece of glass/metal/plastic that's the size of a chocolate bar. So while I don't consider myself the least bit "addict", I love that nowadays one small pocket size device is all I need for all of this. (My old dictating machine alone is probably four times as thick as my smart phone.)

In any case, now if you consider how often you see people using smart phones you also have to consider that not all of them all the time text or chat.

So I have fully embraced the technology of these devices and tend to prefer high-end phones I can get mileage out of (such as my current Samsung S7Edge); it's a piece of technology that's rather high priority for me, though I'm not so nuts and buy a new one every year or two.

 
 Posted:   Apr 7, 2017 - 8:52 AM   
 By:   solium   (Member)

That's all fine and yes it has a lot of useful features. Better than driving around with a paper map over your steering wheel and searching for an AT&T phone by the nearest convenient store when you need to make a call. But, we are talking about total detachment to the people and world around you. In the old days it was rude to turn on the TV when you had guests over. Same thing applies with cell phones. Unless you MUST use it, put it away.

 
 Posted:   Apr 7, 2017 - 9:07 AM   
 By:   RoryR   (Member)

I've never owned a cell phone -- well, I do have a TracFone, which I keep in the glove compartment of my car for road emergencies, but I have yet to ever use it and recently discovered that I'd let its service expire. Cost me a pretty penny to get that straightened out.

I'm too cheap to own a cell phone, and besides I hate the telephone! -- except when I need to use one, of course -- but most of the time, when my land-line regular phone rings, I'm like, "Who the hell is this bothering me at home?!!!" and I want to throw it out the window! Especially when my mother calls! That woman can talk on the phone for hours!

 
 Posted:   Apr 7, 2017 - 9:26 AM   
 By:   Nicolai P. Zwar   (Member)


I'm too cheap to own a cell phone, and besides I hate the telephone! -- except when I need to use one, of course -- but most of the time, when my land-line regular phone rings, I'm like, "Who the hell is this bothering me at home?!!!" and I want to throw it out the window! Especially when my mother calls! That woman can talk on the phone for hours!


I almost never pick up our landline phone. As a result, hardly any call on the landline is for me. :-)

Anyone who actually wants to talk to me uses my cell phone number.

 
 Posted:   Apr 7, 2017 - 9:29 AM   
 By:   Nicolai P. Zwar   (Member)

I have not been bothered ever by other people's smart phone use. No reason to. If they want to talk to me, they do it, if they don't and rather surf the net, I don't mind, I let them go ahead.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 8, 2018 - 10:47 AM   
 By:   Howard L   (Member)

I've posted articles from the NY Times often and the past few years have noted both the date and "print" in parentheses re edition. Yes, I am still one of those dinos who gets the morning paper delivered daily.

With this in mind...from today's (print) NY Times:

For Two Months, I Got My News From Print Newspapers. Here’s What I Learned.
Farhad Manjoo


I first got news of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., via an alert on my watch. Even though I had turned off news notifications months ago, the biggest news still somehow finds a way to slip through.

But for much of the next 24 hours after that alert, I heard almost nothing about the shooting.

There was a lot I was glad to miss. For instance, I didn’t see the false claims — possibly amplified by propaganda bots — that the killer was a leftist, an anarchist, a member of ISIS and perhaps just one of multiple shooters. I missed the Fox News report tying him to Syrian resistance groups even before his name had been released. I also didn’t see the claim circulated by many news outlets (including The New York Times) as well as by Senator Bernie Sanders and other liberals on Twitter that the massacre had been the 18th school shooting of the year, which wasn’t true.

Instead, the day after the shooting, a friendly person I’ve never met dropped off three newspapers at my front door. That morning, I spent maybe 40 minutes poring over the horror of the shooting and a million other things the newspapers had to tell me.

Not only had I spent less time with the story than if I had followed along as it unfolded online, I was better informed, too. Because I had avoided the innocent mistakes — and the more malicious misdirection — that had pervaded the first hours after the shooting, my first experience of the news was an accurate account of the actual events of the day.

This has been my life for nearly two months. In January, after the breaking-newsiest year in recent memory, I decided to travel back in time. I turned off my digital news notifications, unplugged from Twitter and other social networks, and subscribed to home delivery of three print newspapers — The Times, The Wall Street Journal and my local paper, The San Francisco Chronicle — plus a weekly newsmagazine, The Economist.

I have spent most days since then getting the news mainly from print, though my self-imposed asceticism allowed for podcasts, email newsletters and long-form nonfiction (books and magazine articles). Basically, I was trying to slow-jam the news — I still wanted to be informed, but was looking to formats that prized depth and accuracy over speed.

It has been life changing. Turning off the buzzing breaking-news machine I carry in my pocket was like unshackling myself from a monster who had me on speed dial, always ready to break into my day with half-baked bulletins.

Now I am not just less anxious and less addicted to the news, I am more widely informed (though there are some blind spots). And I’m embarrassed about how much free time I have — in two months, I managed to read half a dozen books, took up pottery and (I think) became a more attentive husband and father.

Most of all, I realized my personal role as a consumer of news in our broken digital news environment.

We have spent much of the past few years discovering that the digitization of news is ruining how we collectively process information. Technology allows us to burrow into echo chambers, exacerbating misinformation and polarization and softening up society for propaganda. With artificial intelligence making audio and video as easy to fake as text, we’re entering a hall-of-mirrors dystopia, what some are calling an “information apocalypse.” And we’re all looking to the government and to Facebook for a fix.

But don’t you and I also have a part to play? Getting news only from print newspapers may be extreme and probably not for everyone. But the experiment taught me several lessons about the pitfalls of digital news and how to avoid them.

I distilled those lessons into three short instructions, the way the writer Michael Pollan once boiled down nutrition advice: Get news. Not too quickly. Avoid social.

Get news.

I know what you’re thinking: Listening to a Times writer extol the virtues of print is like taking breakfast suggestions from Count Chocula. You may also wonder if I am preaching to the choir; doesn’t everyone reading this story already appreciate print?

Probably not. The Times has about 3.6 million paying subscribers, but about three-quarters of them pay for just the digital version. During the 2016 election, fewer than 3 percent of Americans cited print as their most important source of campaign news; for people under 30, print was their least important source.

I’m nearly 40, but I’m no different. Though I have closely followed the news since I was a kid, I always liked my news on a screen, available at the touch of a button. Even with this experiment, I found much to hate about print. The pages are too big, the type too small, the ink too messy, and compared with a smartphone, a newspaper is more of a hassle to consult on the go.

Print also presents a narrower mix of ideas than you find online. You can’t get BuzzFeed or Complex or Slate in print. In California, you can’t even get The Washington Post in print. And print is expensive. Outside New York, after introductory discounts, seven-day home delivery of The Times will set you back $81 a month. In a year, that’s about the price of Apple’s best iPhone.

What do you get for all that dough? News. That sounds obvious until you try it — and you realize how much of what you get online isn’t quite news, and more like a never-ending stream of commentary, one that does more to distort your understanding of the world than illuminate it.

I noticed this first with the deal Democrats made to end the government shutdown late in January. On the Jan. 23 front pages, the deal was presented straight: “Shutdown Ends, Setting Up Clash Over ‘Dreamers,’” ran The Times’s headline on the news story, which appeared alongside an analysis piece that presented the political calculations surrounding the deal.

Many of the opinions in that analysis could be found on Twitter and Facebook. What was different was the emphasis. Online, commentary preceded facts. If you were following the shutdown on social networks, you most likely would have seen lots of politicians and pundits taking stock of the deal before seeing details of the actual news.

This is common online. On social networks, every news story comes to you predigested. People don’t just post stories — they post their takes on stories, often quoting key parts of a story to underscore how it proves them right, so readers are never required to delve into the story to come up with their own view.

There’s nothing wrong with getting lots of shades of opinion. And reading just the paper can be a lonely experience; there were many times I felt in the dark about what the online hordes thought about the news.

Still, the prominence of commentary over news online and on cable news feels backward, and dangerously so. It is exactly our fealty to the crowd — to what other people are saying about the news, rather than the news itself — that makes us susceptible to misinformation.

Not too quickly.

It’s been clear that breaking news has been broken since at least 2013, when a wild week of conspiracy theories followed the Boston Marathon bombing. As I argued then, technology had caused the break.

Real life is slow; it takes professionals time to figure out what happened, and how it fits into context. Technology is fast. Smartphones and social networks are giving us facts about the news much faster than we can make sense of them, letting speculation and misinformation fill the gap.

It has only gotten worse. As news organizations evolved to a digital landscape dominated by apps and social platforms, they felt more pressure to push news out faster. Now, after something breaks, we’re all buzzed with the alert, often before most of the facts are in. So you’re driven online not just to find out what happened, but really to figure it out.

This was the surprise blessing of the newspaper. I was getting news a day old, but in the delay between when the news happened and when it showed up on my front door, hundreds of experienced professionals had done the hard work for me.

Now I was left with the simple, disconnected and ritualistic experience of reading the news, mostly free from the cognitive load of wondering whether the thing I was reading was possibly a blatant lie.
Another surprise was a sensation of time slowing down. One weird aspect of the past few years is how a “tornado of news-making has scrambled Americans’ grasp of time and memory,” as my colleague Matt Flegenheimer put it last year. By providing a daily digest of the news, the newspaper alleviates this sense. Sure, there’s still a lot of news — but when you read it once a day, the world feels contained and comprehensible rather than a blur of headlines lost on a phone’s lock screen.

You don’t need to read a print newspaper to get this; you can create your own news ritual by looking at a news app once a day, or reading morning newsletters like those from Axios, or listening to a daily news podcast. What’s important is choosing a medium that highlights deep stories over quickly breaking ones.

And, more important, you can turn off news notifications. They distract and feed into a constant sense of fragmentary paranoia about the world. They are also unnecessary. If something really big happens, you will find out.

Avoid social.

This is the most important rule of all. After reading newspapers for a few weeks, I began to see it wasn’t newspapers that were so great, but social media that was so bad.

Just about every problem we battle in understanding the news today — and every one we will battle tomorrow — is exacerbated by plugging into the social-media herd. The built-in incentives on Twitter and Facebook reward speed over depth, hot takes over facts and seasoned propagandists over well-meaning analyzers of news.

You don’t have to read a print newspaper to get a better relationship with the news. But, for goodness’ sake, please stop getting your news mainly from Twitter and Facebook. In the long run, you and everyone else will be better off.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 8, 2018 - 1:23 PM   
 By:   joan hue   (Member)

Nice article, Howard. Very informative. Thanks for sharing. I still get a newspaper delivered daily to my front door.

Lately, I've noticed an ad on TV. It shows a mom, dad and young son at the dinner table. Mom is reading and texting on her phone. Dad is on his tablet. The son, in vain, tries to tell his folks about his day at school, and they just mumble inattentive responses.

Then a sign comes up that says: Device Free Dinners. (or meals.) Those parents are, in a way, neglecting a marvelous young boy.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 8, 2018 - 5:36 PM   
 By:   Howard L   (Member)

Merci, joan, and oh you are so right it is not just the millennials caught up in the gadgets vortex. I was at a temporary workplace and every lunch hour several of the guys were huddled around a table and every one--every single one--had their head wrapped up in their phone...except Yours Truly. The silence was remarkable. I felt like an intruder the times I'd strike up a conversation. The oldest (next to moi) was in his 40s, the youngest maybe late 20s. This was the first time I'd experienced such a thing.

My current permanent job is in a small office. Most of the staff goes out to eat. Even on the days when one or two others eat in my head isn't so buried in the Times that I won't/can't engage in banter. Seems what used to be common human interaction stands out in the current scheme of things. Weird!

 
 Posted:   Mar 8, 2018 - 6:34 PM   
 By:   edwzoomom   (Member)



Wonderful article indeed Howard. It pains me to see so many people tethered to their phones. Last weekend my husband and I grabbed breakfast at a local family restaurant. Seated next to us was a lovely family with three children under the age of about eight. Both parents were glued to their phones and the children talked among themselves and looked a bit lost. The eldest almost seemed to parent the toddler. My heart was breaking for those children. I wanted to interrupt those parents, scold them and say "you don't know what you're missing, you'll never get this family time back again." Of course, I didn't.

I will add that I have deactivated my Facebook account for some time now and I don't miss it one bit.

 
 Posted:   Mar 9, 2018 - 3:36 AM   
 By:   Nicolai P. Zwar   (Member)

On the mark.

 
 Posted:   Mar 9, 2018 - 4:08 AM   
 By:   Jehannum   (Member)

I realised I'd taken my anti-phone stance a little too far when I found I didn't know how to make a call, take a call or send a text message on my own touchscreen mobile a couple of months ago.

Saying that, getting rid of Facebook is one of the best things I've done. No more baby photographs, restaurant meal snaps, car bragging, pouting selfies, selfies taken near important historical monuments, racist memes, racist jokes, positive-thinking happy clappy propaganda, second cousins of third cousins I've never met, former schoolfriends getting greyer, older and fatter with every picture, heartwarming tales of self-sacrifice, ...

 
 Posted:   Mar 9, 2018 - 8:03 AM   
 By:   jackfu   (Member)

I enjoy the accessibility and convenience a cellphone provides. I’ve had cellphones for over 20 years, and they have even been a lifesaver (literally) a time or two.
I’m not an addict, and have only had a smartphone for three years and it (Galaxy S4) had been out for 2 years when I got it, so it is considered obsolete and no longer gets software updates, etc. In fact, I’m expecting to receive my new smartphone today (3/9/18) and I’m actually excited to get it, but it won’t be the highlight of my day.
I hate surfing the web with a smartphone, except for finding cooking recipes and for quick help with map directions, etc. Webpages never quite seem to fit the screen for me and I despise expanding and shrinking them to enable me to read them.
I don’t use and don’t care to use Facebook, Twitter or any of those social media things, but if you like ‘em, have fun!
I use a cellphone simply as a tool. I text more than I call, but even so it’s rare that I send more than a dozen in a day.
I think people who become addicted to their phones would become addicted to something else if they didn’t have them. It’s like anything else, self-control is needed. At work, we even have rules prohibiting walking while texting to prevent folks from falling or bumping into other people or objects.
I get tickled at (not to single them out) “little old ladies”, whose cellphones begin ringing aloud during church. They seem to go into a state of shock, then open their purses, reach in and grab the thing but don’t do anything to silence it (usually only requires a touch of a side button) and it just continues to ring. They have an expression of sheer panic, but don’t seem to know what to do, as if holding it will make it stop.
And, of course there are the folks who talk very loudly on their cellphones or Bluetooth devices that can be so annoying.
Like anything else, one can be courteous to those around them by using some common sense cellphone etiquette.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 9, 2018 - 8:36 AM   
 By:   Howard L   (Member)

LOL I have seen the exact same thing with the "little old ladies" and it's even better when it comes to tablets. Oh the sounds emanating from them things from an accidental brush. Many's the middle-aged guy or gal, too, that hops up and rushes out with a mortified beet red face, unwanted soundtrack trailing the whole way out.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 9, 2018 - 8:44 AM   
 By:   eriknelson   (Member)

Another phenomenon I see (correct that: hear) is guys in public restrooms sitting on the throne doing their business while talking on the phone. I wonder about the people with whom they are talking. Do they know what's happening on the other end?

 
 Posted:   Mar 9, 2018 - 11:26 AM   
 By:   jackfu   (Member)

LOL I have seen the exact same thing with the "little old ladies" and it's even better when it comes to tablets. Oh the sounds emanating from them things from an accidental brush. Many's the middle-aged guy or gal, too, that hops up and rushes out with a mortified beet red face, unwanted soundtrack trailing the whole way out.

LOL! Funny when it's a particularly obnoxious C&W ringtone ("Big Green Tractor" seems to be a fave in my neck of the woods).
Another one that is good for a giggle is when someone's phone uses the (in)famous whistling text notification and it seems no one knows whose is going off (usually see several ladies searching their purses).

Another phenomenon I see (correct that: hear) is guys in public restrooms sitting on the throne doing their business while talking on the phone. I wonder about the people with whom they are talking. Do they know what's happening on the other end?

I had a really embarrassing experience at work like that. I was in the stall and my dentist called me so I felt I really needed to answer. The guy in the stall beside me passed gas so loudly that it echoed off the bathroom walls and the steel stalls and I just knew that it could be heard on the other end of my call. embarrassment

 
 Posted:   Mar 9, 2018 - 3:56 PM   
 By:   Ray Faiola   (Member)

I have a flip phone that I use in case of emergency on the road and for rounding up weekly poker players. No apps, no videos, no nothing.

Walking down the sidewalk in New York is downright dangerous. NOBODY is looking where they are going.

 
 Posted:   Mar 9, 2018 - 8:19 PM   
 By:   edwzoomom   (Member)


I was in a doctor's waiting room last week and sat across from a woman on her phone who was begging her electric company to change the bill over to her name because her boyfriend was now in prison. She was speaking loudly and was very emotional. I felt bad for her but at the same time, it was cringeworthy. I'm not quite sure why she chose to make the call right in the middle of the waiting room and I never did find out if they put the bill in her name.....

 
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