tip-tap-away, tip-tap-away

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With over a billion users on one single day, maybe it’s me that’s missing out on the Facebook revolution? Maybe you do want to see what I’m having for my lunch today? Perhaps you really are interested in whom I’m playing tonight, or what route I followed on Sunday’s ride-out? Then again…

Not content with world domination of the social media space I now hear Zuckerberg’s next port of call is telepathic messages. Apparently, he’s pursuing a new technology where we will be able think of something and your friends & followers will be able to experience it, immediately. Ooooerrr, madam. Geeks and techies the world over will be fascinated, anti-libertarians will be appalled, and I’m just baffled as to why anyone would want to share these thoughts? It’ll come as no surprise to regular readers, and it may be that I’m just too old to be down with the kids on this one, but really, come on. Any sudden bolt from the blue, or minor ideological epiphany I may experience you can bet your bottom-dollar I’m going to keep it safe until I can impress a small and select group at a later date, after I’ve practiced the moves several times in the mirror.

And this is the crux of today’s society: the sharing economy I can wholeheartedly buy-into, but the sharing era leaves me cold. In a very short space of time, a matter of just a few short years, everything has changed. Sharing, that hyperbolic centre of the web, has become an existential imperative: no longer I think, much more, I share therefore I am, or I divulge therefore I am, or I post, I confess, I lay myself bare. We now act as if to share defines our very existence.

Except there’s one thing we don’t seem overly happy to share. Ourselves, our true selves, our personalities. Sure, everyone’s happy to share the vision that they see of themselves on every social media mechanism possible and what bright, smart, charismatic sparks we all are, and just look at the fantastic time I’m having and creating for those around me, why I can’t smile wide-enough! But the next time you’re on the train, or at the bus stop, or in the doctor’s waiting room, have a listen and what’s missing? Conversation. Real-life interaction. Yep, everyone’s tapping away on their own personal device of choice to their friends in the ether, when perhaps they should think about tapping into the wealth of experience & knowledge, of fun & frivolity, that’s sitting next to them.

In fact, figures show that over 70% of adults in Britain now own a smartphone, that we use them for over two-hours every day, that over a third of us have taken a selfie or two in the last year, and that we check them within five minutes of opening our sleepy little eyes first thing in the morning. Off the back of this is the growing concern that it can only be a matter of time before we start to see such a major decline in handwriting that we no longer believe it worthy to teach our kids to do so. For me, this truly would signal the end of civilisation. Yes, all children should be taught to touch-type as it’s a great and an invaluable skill, but handwriting, whilst it undeniably takes effort, the rewards are immense. Remember that first love-letter you sweated blood over, or the first birthday card your offspring lovingly crafted in crayon and spilled milk? Handwriting is the closest most of us get to artistic & creative gesture and long may we, impressionists, abstractionists, post-modernists, photo-realists all, continue to persevere with and enjoy.