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Michael Ramirez Essay: The Joy of Relaxing Without Social Media
From America's Premier Editorial Cartoonist
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Michael Ramirez July 9, 2023
I’m old. Modern technology is a marvel… and one of the things I struggle with on a daily basis. My youngest niece knows more about my iPhone and computers than I do.
I still have cable TV.
Streaming is a term that I thought applied to fishing. Yup…. Old
I am constantly amazed at the technological development that has transpired during my lifetime. When you think of man once walking on the moon and all the science behind that feat, and then look at your iPhone and realize you have more computing power than NASA did when they put that man on the moon, it’s well, astonishing.
iPhones, Dick Tracy wrist radios, televisions that cover your wall, Facetime, Zoom, GPS, self-driving cars… well, almost… flying cars on the horizon… pickleball?
What is with Pickleball?
As with anything, there is a downside to modern technology… Every time I discuss something with friends, I get three hundred commercials on the topics we covered on my computer. Drones now reveal I’ve been surfing in a Great White Shark nursery for the last 46 years. I have to cover the cameras on my phones and computers for fear that someone is watching me. Alexa is always listening… always… listening… I am certain the NSA has been watching me for the last forty years. Since you’re reading this, now, they are watching YOU. Sorry.
I know the IRS has kept tabs on me. Thank goodness I have a great accountant.
When I won my first Pulitzer, I got a nice letter from then President Clinton congratulating me. I gathered all my favorite Clinton cartoons and sent him a note, saying, “Thank you, I couldn’t have done it without you. I was audited by the IRS a few months later. (IRS, if you are listening, I am not saying those events are remotely related.)
Human contact has been replaced by technology.
I recall going out to dinner once with some friends and watching their kids communicate with each other on their phones. They were sitting right next to each other.
I don’t want to go on a long soliloquy about the garbage circulated on social media. I’ll go on a short one… GARBAGE IS CIRCULATED ON SOCIAL MEDIA. It’s a giant echo chamber of nonsense, conspiratorial stupidity and garbage
So, I wasn’t really moved by Meta launching a challenge to Twitter called Threads, or Musk’s threat of a retaliatory lawsuit. Elon, there is no question there was a lot of fat to be cut at Twitter, but you can’t tell me that you are surprised that Zuckerberg, or someone else for that matter, picked up those who developed the infrastructure of Twitter to start a competing enterprise.
Sure, my webmaster posts on both Twitter and Facebook. But it is simply another device, and an extension of my job description, to force-feed the general public my deranged point of view. I certainly don’t rely on social media for any credible information. Did I mention that they allow me to post my opinions there?!
Now, I do love the fact that social media allows the ability to connect with friends and fans in ways we could not do before. It also allows us to reconnect with loved ones and people from the past, not in the sense of Shirley MacLaine or Hillary Clinton conversing with Eleanor Roosevelt or Mahatma Gandhi, I mean people that are STILL living.
I have friends who spend hours on social media. I could easily do that. I view social media in the same way I view video games.
When I lived in Memphis, one of my best friends was a pilot trainer. I was surrounded by pilots. I once crashed a simulator trying to fly under the I-40 bridge connecting Memphis to Arkansas.
They introduced me to a game called F-18 Simulator. You had to launch from an aircraft carrier and carry out sorties and then land on the deck. The hardest part was landing on that carrier. Depending on the simulated weather the deck could be pitching from side to side as well as from bow to stern. You could also coordinate missions with others and fly together. I got the best monitor and upgraded my speakers for more realism. I even bought an authentic, genuine (made in China) replica F-18 joystick. I spent hours playing it… until I realized that I could have probably built an F-18 out of scrap material in the time that I had wasted playing that game.
There are a lot of good things on Twitter, and I am certain it will be the same for Threads. But it reminds me of the time I went to Comicon for a presentation. It was the first time I had been to Comicon. As I walked to the room, I passed group after group of guys, four rows deep, gathered around provocatively dressed cosplay women. The first thing I said after my introduction was, “For goodness’ sake guys, get out of your parent’s basement and go talk to girls… it’s embarrassing.”
There is nothing wrong with socializing on the internet. I’ve met a ton of wonderful, interesting people on social media. But for me, meeting real human beings and interacting with them is better. People are amazing. This kind of socialization is good for society. It brings out our humanity. It teaches us how to behave beyond the veil of social media. Having discussions with people in real time, face to face, forces us to listen to other voices, and tempers reactionary behavior.
And while social media has a lot of good stuff, there is also a lot of bad stuff. As a person who analyzes politics, I can tell you first hand, there are better conduits of credible information.
Calculate the hours you spend on social media, and then apply it to something constructive.
Read a book. Learn a craft. I’m going to go feed the sharks.
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