Ramblings of a Tampa engineer
Bald man walks in front of graffiti
Photo by Volkan Olmez / Unsplash

I was re-watching the office again and towards the end of the entire series, Andy (below) said this quote.

I wish there was a way to know you're in the good old days before you've actually left them.
Andy Bernard

I started thinking about this quote again, which isn't anything new after my posts like "slow down", "an evening of nostalgia" and "passion like a fire". I tend to write about the past and correlate with the present and this post is no exception.

This time I was looking back at a childhood website (iBotModz) which I started in November of 2006 and shutdown October of 2011. This site was built from the community of those who soft-modded and hard-modded an original Xbox. When I wrote the shutdown post I compared that era to Halley's Comet due to the rarity of the community.

"It was fun."

We were in an era of the Internet truly taking off from dial-up to broadband. Pair that with a relatively cheap game and Xbox was all you needed to scratch the itch of technical modifications. This community tried to exist again with the Xbox 360 and Xbox One, but everything was different.

You can't repeat the past as the future is different. We had faster computers, revision control and the world of e-commerce had entered. Why share research when you could put it behind a pay wall? Computer got smarter and tools began stretching into the gray area that mixed with legality. All in all, it was clear the times were not the same. Were the good times the era of Xbox modification? - I'm not sure.

Moving along from Xbox, I grew up during the spawn of Xanga -> MySpace -> Facebook and then saw the rise and fall of Vine. The explosion of Snapchat, then continued success of Instagram and the scary rise of TikTok. Now I sit and see all these sites that launched in my childhood become the best worse thing to happen.

I'm nervous for kids of these newer generations. I've done some embarrassing things in my life and those lie in the memories of the kids that saw it. Today more than likely anything is recorded on a variety of cell phones and shared far and wide. A digital history being written daily from younger and younger ages that will follow forever.

Netflix - The Social Dilemma

The vast spread of social media also lends itself to creating a pretty sad dynamic for children who can't separate from it. Most posting anything to collect likes, shares, retweets and more chasing an euphoric high. Trying to catch this high leads to this anxiety and sometimes depression from just seeing the good times of everyone.

Most unaware that every single action you do on anything online just continues to build a profile of you. So that targeted advertisers will pay big money to put an ad right in your face knowing your type of "person" will see it.

So now 500 words into this blog post - I want to get my point. I think technology has passed the good times and we are knee deep in a scary time. People are arguing right now why Twitter is allowed to stop sharing of individual posts they deem untrue and whether that infringes on free speech.

I think we've forgotten that freedom of speech has nothing to with freedom of amplification. 20 years ago someone blogging about a critical life event with an alternative viewpoint would generally go quite unnoticed. Today a random user can post anything that leads to a massive viral spread of information. Is the medium responsible for that post supposed to do anything?

Twitter Safety - June 23, 2020

Twitter literally has a department now that is responsible for that. Probably because a good deal of our population isn't great at determining fact from fiction.

Though why am I talking about social media? I'm addicted to this stuff as much as anyone else. My phone even tells me now what I spend time on. So lets look back at the last week for time spent on phone and notifications received.

  • Monday, Oct 19 - 5h 34min (most - Chrome, 486 notifications)
  • Tuesday, Oct 20 - 3h 55min (most - Signal, 361 notifications)
  • Wednesday, Oct 21 - 3h 16min (most - Phone, 333 notifications)
  • Thursday, Oct 22 - 3h 52min (most - Reddit, 380 notifications)
  • Friday, Oct 23 - 4h 36min (most - Reddit, 438 notifications)
  • Saturday, Oct 24 - 5h 7min (most - Ingress, 384 notifications)
  • Sunday, Oct 25 - 3h 14min (most - Reddit, 232 notifications)

That is quite depressing to see and even more depressing for some of these numbers, but I also know it can be much much worse. I also know I'm a human at the end of the day and it will take hundreds of thousands of years for my species to evolve a bit more and technology is evolving way quicker than myself.

My Nest Installed. (It is even, the picture isn't)

I'm naturally at a loss against the technological evolution, but in a better position than most of the population because I also work in it. I may be able to spot a bot on their first Tinder message, run a Pi-hole to block ads & privacy invasive trackers and be able to research a clickbait title without assuming anything. Though, I still fall victim and buy devices that allows Google to now even monitor my house temperature and air quality.

My data profile is enriched and companies know me more than I know myself - though I do one thing that I think helps. I don't un-follow folks I don't agree with. Nervous that a feed of everything I agree with would subject me easily to swaying opinions.

What really scares me though are my feeds changing behind the scenes showing me what I want to see instead of what I follow, thus enabling suggestions into my sight line. The technology good times are gone - be vigilant and welcome to the scary era.

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