Posts Tagged With: Facebook

A Curious Wanderer is on Facebook!

Good morning everybody!

The Curious Wanderer is now on Facebook!

Life has gotten pretty hectic the past several months, and between writing a dissertation and now composing job application materials, I have very little time and effort left to past anything substantial here on this site.  (And when I do find some time to sit down an click “Add New Post,” the obnoxious voice of guilt screams in my head “You could be spending this time on your dissertation!  YOU SHOULD BE SPENDING THIS TIME ON YOUR DISSERTATION!”).

So, I decided to create a CW Facebook page.  It’ll be easier and and quicker to share shorter ideas, thoughts and links there.  Also, I think it’ll reach a different audience.  But, that doesn’t mean that I’ll be abandoning this blog.  I’m still going to post here as often as I can, but if you’d like to add some humanism, history, travelling, or love of food to your Facebook feed, head on over to and give the page a “Like”!  

See you there!


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Do You Know What You Did?

Do You Know What You Did?

Categories: Humor, Politics/Current Events | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment


Fear of Time Running Out



X Trapped in Facebook




X Slave to Technology


X Newspeak


(there’s a typed version of it below her handwritten letter)

X shame on lego



X God approves

X Defense Box Tops

Categories: Ideas & Philosophy, Politics/Current Events, Religion | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tired of Political Posts?

You’re sitting at your computer, or glued to your smart phone, just scrollin’ through your newsfeed, trying to see what your Facebook Friends have been up to since you last checked four minutes ago.  And then you see it: your tree huggin’ hippy friend has posted another God-damn Gosh darn Obama ad.  Or, your right wing nutjob co-worker has posted yet another graph that shows that Obama’s plan for the economy just isn’t working.  How fucking annoying is that, right?!  Why can’t we just go about our business, liking Justin Bieber, uploading another picture of ourselves (maybe in the reflection of a mirror to be cool), or talking about the mundane facets of our lives?  Instead, these politically active sons-a-bitches have to keep shoving their political views down my throat via Facebook.

Or at least that’s how it seems lately, according to some folks in my Facebook friends circle.  I’ve read quite a few statuses declaring to the cyber world that they were blocking or at least hiding any of their “friends” who keep trying to influence their own views on the upcoming election.  I mean, how dare people voice their own opinions!

Well, I’ll tell you what:  THAT is on my damn nerves! I thought electing the next President of the United States was kind of a big deal, big enough, in fact, for people to express their opinions on the candidates and parties that are running.  And sure, there has been debate, and quarreling, and shallow name calling in politics ever since…well, politics existed.  But the difference is that all of that “political stuff” used to be relegated to TV, newspapers, and magazines.  And now, politics has infiltrated Facebook.  That’s why all of you people are so annoyed: Because in the past, you could just turn off the TV, or not pick up a newspaper, and presto! you don’t have to be ‘annoyed’ by all of these petty debates about who the leader of our country should be.

Now that Facebook has crept into every crevice of our social lives, of course it was going to be a perfect tool for trading political ideas.  I say Thank God! Facebook provides a medium to share information further and quicker than any other medium in the past.  What better way to use it than to share knowledge and ideas?  And I’m not talking about the knowledge that you checked in at the fucking Denny’s bathroom to make another stupid ass kissy-face picture.

But by all means, get annoyed that someone’s bashing the opposing political candidate in your news feed.  Sure, you’ll act like you’re “above” the fray, and it’s people on both sides who are annoying you, and what really annoys you is just the fact that politics has just gotten so darn mean.  Just name callin from both sides of the aisle.  Gosh, how horrible.  Right – so that’s why you end up attacking and deleting the person who has ideas that are different from your own.

I’m a politically active individual, and I’m going to post articles that express my beliefs.  Well, let me be more accurate:  I’m a politically aware individual.  Earning my PhD takes up all of my time, so I don’t really have much left to be very active.  I’m not stupid enough to think that my Facebook posts (which actually are just articles that I share) are going to ‘convert’ anyone to ‘my side’ (probably because most of my friends are of my “silly, ideal” political persuasion, anyway), but I would hope that some of the information I share at least makes people stop and think.

I have a lot riding on November 6th.  And I’m not the only one.  While the economy is looming large on everyone’s mind (for a very good reason), I’m referring to something more specific.  As a gay man, this presidential election will have very big repercussions for my life.  On the one hand, we have a candidate who has repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, stopped enforcing the discriminatory Defense Of Marriage Act, and became the first sitting president to endorse marriage equality for all Americans.  On the other hand, you have a candidate who believes that homosexuality is not only a “lifestyle” but an abomination, and as such, would roll back all of the legislation that activists have worked so hard to achieve.

I’m not really a supporter of voting for a president based on one particular issue.  And let’s be real, this isn’t the only reason I’m voting for Obama, but you can bet your sweet ass it’s on top of the list.  Because, if Obama wins, that means that there are four more years in which I could possibly see marriage equality recognized on a national levelIf Obama wins, then MAYBE my partner and I wouldn’t have to worry about his status in this country.  Yeah, that’s right, I’m not worried about “gay marriage” simply because I want to have something with the name “marriage” on it (versus a civil union or whatever the fuck you want to call it).  I’m talking about legal benefits that straight couples now get…and that I’m unfairly denied.

My partner is a foreign worker in this country, and he’s here to do the IT jobs that Americans just simply aren’t qualified to do (why that’s the case will have to wait for another post).  He pays all of his taxes, contributes to a growing sector, and makes sure that millions of people get their healthcare without a glitch.  However, he’s reached the highest visa possible now, and it’s only valid for a maximum of six more years.  That means that if his legal status in the US does not change by the year 2018, he’ll have to leave the country forever.  Now this isn’t normally a big problem for most ‘normal’ people, because there are two ways to achieve the next status, which is permanent residency (aka, green card holder):  #1, your employer can sponsor you, but this is expensive on their part, and right now the processing time for his particular employer-sponsored green card is 11 years.  #2, you can get married.  This is obviously not an option for my partner and millions more like him.

So, this is what’s at stake for us:  We know we want to spend the rest of our lives together.  But because of a fucking technicality we may not be able to do that here, in the supposed land of the free?

That’s why I post political statuses on Facebook.  Because it fucking matters.  I passionately believe that everybody deserves at least basic health care as a human right.  I believe in placing rules on the game called economics so that it’s a little more fair and one or two people don’t end up buying all the good spots on the Monopoly board and watch from their penthouses as the rest of us fight over scraps.  And, I believe that every single American deserves the right to get married and reap all of the same legal and financial benefits (including green card status for your spouse).  So, I post about these things, hoping that people out there will understand that these issues are real, and they matter.  Politics isn’t just old men in suits talking bad about each other.  It’s not just an interruption in your Facebook Newsfeed! 

So, by all means:  Block me and others like me, but please block yourself from the voting booth, too.  Or do us all a favor and delete your Facebook account until after the elections.  Because maybe your political apathy is annoying the shit out of us.  Or how about at least refrain from mocking those who care enough to actually engage in debate.  I don’t block people just because they tell me every detail of their day, because they check in at every bar they hang out at and tag all of their BFFs and drankin’ buddies, because they tell me constantly what music they’re listening to.  It shows all of the different sides of people out there, sides that I wouldn’t be able to see without Facebook.  Plus, I like sharing what I made for supper too!

Or, how about instead of getting your panties in a wad, you actually engage those people in a debate.  Show them where you think they’re wrong…and then present your own answer to the problem.  But of course, to do that, you’d actually have to do some homework. And like, LOL omg, who has time for that?!  Plus, the iPhone 5 is out, right? And that’s way more damn important than the election and all those Facebook political posts.

Categories: Politics/Current Events | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Fear of the TwitterBook

I’ll go ahead and say in advance – being that the new academic year has started, I will have less and less time to do any actual writing of my own for this site, which means that more and more of the content will be random tid-bits of the Net, or articles that I have come across during the day.

Maybe you’ll find them as interesting as I do.

Not too long ago, I wrote a post about technology (It’s a Small World After All).  This NPR article goes hand in hand with that one.

And it makes me think of a little bit of info that I learned in my Introduction to Cultural Anthropology course several years ago.  It is a phenomenon called habitus.  Essentially (if I remember it correctly), it is the brain rewiring (“softly”…as in it doesn’t necessarily become “hard”wired) itself to accommodate learned actions.  Let me explain:  there are some things that are hard-wired into our brains:  breathing, or ducking when a baseball is coming at our face, for example.  But there are other “reflexes” that can actually be learned.  We aren’t born with the knowledge of using a remote, yet our thumbs know just the right spot to hit (once they’ve been taught).  Another example:  keyboards.  Once you teach yourself where the keys are, your brain can “softly” rewire itself to accommodate that action.  But it’s more than just learning an action.  To your brain it’s almost as if typing on a keyboard is a reflex, because it has set itself up that way.  So, typing actually becomes like second nature to you.

This is an example of culture (outside) affecting neurology (inside).

Now, for the NPR article.  It has nothing to do with habitus directly – but it does have to do with the relationship between technology and culture.  (For example, how the invention of the clock made everyone “aware” of time – that is, they constantly thought about minutes and seconds and hours – whereas before, such concepts of “on time” “late”, or even minutes, and seconds and hours, meant nothing.)


I may not have invented the Internet but it’s possible I was the first guy to find out he was gonna be a dad through it. (It’s a long, 1980s NSFnet kind of story.) I was also, without a doubt, the first guy in Nerdville with a PalmPilot. My whole professional life has demanded early tech adoption: everything from file-transfer software to 3-D visualization to mobile computing. It was, however, only a week or so ago that I sent my first tweet.

I held off for a long time on Facebook and Twitter. Now that I’m getting deep into both, I have to ask: Why did I wait so long? More broadly and more importantly, what takes any culture or any individual “so long” in adopting new technologies?

For a world both blessed and battered by innovation what forces govern the adoption of new technologies? What leads us, as individuals, to opt into new technological modalities at particular moments in their development curve, from “hot new thing” to “everyone has one”?

And what about opting out? What happens when individuals decide to completely step away from a technological modality the rest of the culture has embraced? And how about cultures as a whole? Have entire societies ever completely dismissed a burgeoning new technological capacity?

Sometimes a technology sweeps across culture with a force that simply cannot be avoided. The first public mechanical clockappeared in Orvieto, Italy, in 1307. One hundred years later public clocks had evolved into the standard even in smaller settlements. The human experience and organization of time had become wedded to the new technology of mechanical time metering and the world was never the same.

In our technology saturated world however innovations come and go. Some, such as email and iPods, spread with the speed of an epidemic and alter the genetic (mememic) code of culture. Others, like MySpace or Sony’s failed mini-disk, flare and fade, or just fail entirely. But what is the role of individual choice embedded, as it is, in its cultural background of adoption or dismissal? What price do we pay as individuals if we decide to never pick up a technology, or to opt out once it has risen to prominence? What reasons shape these choices?

The “videophone” presents an interesting on-going example of adoption/opt-out. Pairing video and voice communication seemed the pinnacle of future-tech in Stanley Kubrick’s film2001: A Space Oddessy. Now, in 2011, the technological capacity for video calls has existed for years. As super-cool as the idea appears, the reality is that people remain luke-warm about its use. Skype and other platforms have made the service insanely simple. Still, many folks simply don’t want to be “seen” on every call and won’t use the technology unless forced into it (such as in work-related video conferencing where you are supposed to look nice anyway).

At some point video calls may become so prevalent that rejecting one will seem as Luddite as not having a telephone in your house was 30 years ago. But at this moment in videophone history, it is still possible to opt out.

Which brings me back to my avoidance of Facebook. To be honest I may have held back because of tech snobbery. I can still remember how horrified I was back in 1992 when I saw .comappearing at the end of a Web address. “You can’t use the Internet to sell things,” I thought. “It’s for learning!” (Obviously you don’t want me as your investment advisor). And to be truthful I may have avoided it (and Twitter) because, at 49, I am just getting old and crusty. But in reality, I stayed away because I did not see the point. Overwhelmed with email and texts and my omnipresent iPhone, I could not see why I wanted another node of electronic contact. And Twitter? 140 Characters? Really?

But my kids forced me onto Facebook a year ago (I demanded they friend me in the name of transparency) and my publisher pushed me to Twitter as part of my part of the launch of my new book (shameless plug here). In both cases I could immediately see I had blinded myself to how and why these platforms had launched such powerful reconfigurations of the tech-enabled cultural imagination. As my editor at NPR, Wright Bryan, puts it: “It’s the insane flexibility of these platforms that gives them so much power.”

It is the open-ended brilliance of Facebook and (as I am learning) Twitter in creating ever-shifting, ever-nested webs of connection that take them beyond themselves. Both sites may eventually be replaced by something newer. But by creating technological norms for a particular kind of connectivity, the electronic social networks they embody are transforming our historical moment as completely as mechanical time metering changed life in 15th century.

Culture sees itself and the cosmos as a whole through the lens of its technological capabilities. That fact may explain when adoption grows beyond mere choice. Once a technology settles in to the point where it begins shaping the dominant metaphors of a society (the 17th century’s “clockwork universe” for example), then there is no going back, no opting out. You and everyone you know will be assimilated.

Until that moment, however, you may still have time to hit “delete all” and quietly walk away.

Categories: Science/Technology | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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