Monday, April 20, 2009

Don't Fear the Light

I had separate conversations with three friends (all in their thirties) this weekend all of whom refuse outright to try any kind of social networking technology. No Facebook, no Myspace, no Twitter. They all gave a similar litany of reasons. But, their objections boiled down to the simple fact that they don’t understand social networking. They only think they do. And without ever trying any of the sites they all managed to make very superior sounding arguments against social networking.

It’s like the American gentleman who’s decided that he has no interest in trying Chinese food, for no other reason than because he’s never tried it before. And since he’s never tried it and managed to survive to maturity, he assumes that his life is better off without it. He can't imagine liking food with a foreign name, unfamiliar ingredients, or under any kind of circumstance where the use of chop sticks might encouraged. He thinks even trying Chinese food would be a pointless exercise. That may indeed be true. But the decision isn’t an informed one, it’s a decision rooted in ignorance. And if he tried it, he might find that he’s really very fond of Chinese food. Or he won’t like it, but at least he’ll no specifically why he doesn’t like it. He wouldn't have to rely on an inaccurate notion plucked from the ether of his own prejudices.

This world is getting more globally interconnected by the day. My friends have computers. So they have everything they need to try out all this newness; and its all free to try. The social network sites may also prove more convenient and less invasive than they think. If not they could abandon them. There’s no obligation to continue using them after you're registered. But at least the decision not to use it would be an informed one; and not based on ignorance and a disdain for something too new and shockingly different. Having new technologies available and not trying them out is like having electricity in your house and preferring to live by gaslight.

In 1891 electricity was installed in the White House. Benjamin Harrison (pictured above) was the 23rd president at the time. But President and Mrs. Harrison were both afraid to use the elecrtic lights and refused to touch the switches. Sounds silly huh?

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