Are we all on a descent into digital madness?

Do you sometimes think the world has gone mad? We seem to be having many more ‘emperor’s new clothes’ moments, truth being trashed, fake news dished up as truth and vice versa. And none of it seems to evoke surprise and outrage anymore.

So, I ask the question: Have we all gone quite certifiably mad or just inured and numb to what happens around us?

I blame the digital world for these moments of insanity. First of all, we were thrust into the world of emails, having to claim our own personal address, a nomenclature that puts our own identity stamp on the world of Gmail and others. I poo-pooed my children who insisted on being early adopters and who managed to create an email address for me.

Now, of course, I am grateful that my Gmail hasn’t had to resort to asterisks, numbers and strange symbols to be me. But I am bombarded by emails, most of which are attempts to sell me products I don’t need. I long for a real letter, written by hand and stamped with saliva, even if it is a bill.

Myspace came along about the same time and then had an early demise to the power of Facebook. We connected across the oceans, the young embraced it but now turn up their noses at it and see it as a platform their parents use. Oh, so passé.

Then we had Twitter, which friends and I dubbed Twitter for Twits or Twats, refusing to be sucked into the 280 character bullying and banter that pretends to unite us around the globe.

Now Elon Musk has turned Twitter into X, a mystery of understatement and intrigue, but possibly a way to infiltrate our lives more than ever.

Once upon a time, in the era of illiteracy and social injustices, people would hire someone to write a letter for them or read out a document before they signed it with an X. The ignominy of not being able to write and sign your name was there for all to see and then notarised by the literate person who could witness your signature.

Now Elon Musk, one of the richest dudes on the planet, has decided to use this symbol to replace the name Twitter. It may even cost him billions in advertising losses and brand loyalty.

This seems a retrograde step, but then again maybe all these digital platforms have made us more stupid, more narrow in our outlook and more prepared to say outrageous and slanderous things to total strangers.

Protected by the anonymity of the digital space, we shout things that we would never dare say years ago in a public forum. So, why not call your social media platform an enigmatic name/symbol to match your outrageous behaviour in other aspects of your life?

The other month, Meta aka Facebook Zuckerberg, created Threads, an online answer to Twitter. My first thought was that this was an apt naming for a new site, highlighting that we were all becoming unravelled like the threads that are pulled from a jumper, a fitting metaphor really.

Sadly, I have signed up to Threads, mainly because of fear of having my name taken by someone else on the planet. I don’t want to become an asterisk or a series of numbers revealing my birth year. I have no idea what I will do with it or say on it but FOMO is strong. The digital world has made us all slightly unhinged, mad if you like.

Have you embraced the digital world? Or did you embrace it then step back? Care to share your thoughts in the comments section below?

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  1. I have always been at the forefront of new technology. I was an early adopter of home PC’s and the internet back in the 80’s and 90’s. I also had a mobile phone from the early days but was slower to adopt a smartphone because I prefer using the larger screen and keyboard of a PC or Laptop for online activities.
    I have been using a smartphone for several years now but mostly only for phone calls, getting directions, and accessing some websites when away from home. Also for taking photos, the new ones take fantastic pics.
    I use Facebook but none of the other social media sites because I don’t want my life being taken over with messaging as I see many younger peoples lives have been. I have actually become quite concerned over recent years over the people whose lives appear to be lived on their phones texting etc. I have had deep conversations with my own kids about what I think is their excessive online activities.
    There is a point I believe where spending a lot of time online becomes unhealthy.
    I am also disappointed, although not surprised, to see the internet being used to push misinformation and loony conspiracy theories.

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