Random thoughts about my interests which include (in no particular order) poker, finance & investing, politics, football and whatever else I happen to see that piques my interest

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The shape of things to come

Remember those ads (for Infiniti I think) where the punch line was "the shape of things to come"?  Well I'm no fortune teller - or meteorologist for that matter - but I've seen what will come and I'm not thinking it's better.  Then again, I do a fair bit of carping so take that for what it's worth.

I remember  an old sci fi book by Isaac Asimov, the Wayne Gretzky of science fiction imho.  Back in the late 50's he wrote a book called "The Naked Sun".  In that story, people lived in huge estates and hardly had contact with anyone else except via some kind of teleconference.  Some would spend their whole life without human contact with anyone else, even kids since they had figured out how to have children without all that icky exchange of fluids etc and raised them in creches rather than parenting.  They had robots to take care of their every need and spent their life pursuing what interested them, gardening, research, whatever.  Sounds almost ideal doesn't it?? Or maybe not. 

This is what got me thinking along this line.  I was reading some recaps of the recent blogger meet in Vegas over the past week or so.  One day I will join in the festivities myself.  But there was a remark in Bam Bam's blog post about the WPBT I found very telling.  He said he doesn't tweet or blog post while there because he found he was so concerned with telling everyone else about what he was doing that he missed out on some things he wanted to do.  We've got facebook, twitter, myspace, blogs, etc.  We can go online and order our groceries, pay our bills, even do all our Christmas shopping.   It's getting so much easier to avoid human contact. 

I'm just as guilty as the next guy.  Though I refuse to get a facebook page and I think twitter is the 21st century way of saying "look at me, I'm so witty (or smart or fun or great or whatever) " and that's not my style either, but I do pay almost all my bills online, bank online, did almost all my Christmas shopping online, even occasionally post a blog or 2.  And all of this takes away from different contacts we would make with other members of our own species.  We have hundreds of cable channels not to mention movies on demand in our own homes and we can download all of our music - not from Apple in my case - whenever we want.  When is the last time you went into an actual music store? 

Last week I was playing poker and 2 or 3 people had earphones in and were listening to music.  Now far be it from me to tell someone else what to do at the table but one of these guys constantly had to be told it was his turn, made wrong bets, and generally held up the game because he wasn't paying attention.  Not only that, how sociable are you gonna be if you're listening to music the entire time.  Kinda makes it hard to interact with others at your table that's for sure.  Now you can't be forced to interact with others at the table if you don't want to, but if everyone at the table was doing that, what difference would there be between playing live and playing online?  One of the things I like about poker is the sociability in it.  I'm not a gadfly at the table but I don't mind talking a bit, especially in a ring game.  Well its bed time for me now.  I'll try and tie this together tomorrow.

What I am getting at is that some of us are so busy with our electronic interactions we are losing out on our human interactions.  We have 1800 facebook friends and 2 real friends.  And it certainly seems to be impacting how people act toward each other in public.  Common decency seems much less common.  Very few people seem to consider how their actions will impact other people.  And its a lot easier to think of the avatars online as electronics and not as actual people.  We get used to acting that way at home and how do we act in public then?  When I was young my parents taught me something called manners.  Ok in some cases they beat it into me.  But basically they tried to teach me rules to interact with people I may not know in a manner designed not to offend others and to show that I was a functional member of society.  Manners provide a fabric to help guide people through social situations.  And when people are ill-mannered, the social interations break down.  People are offended, pissed off, etc all because some one doesn't think about the impact of what they say or do. 

How many times have you seen this at the poker table and other places?  I referee football and its all around me there too.  In high school and youth it's not as public perhaps because if we see or hear anyone taunting another we immediately slap them with a 15 yard penalty.  But don't tell me it doesn't go on in the lines or in a pile of tacklers.  Why does it happen?  Kids see it on tv and in person as well.  When did it become ok to grandstand and taunt and try to embarass your opponent whether on the field or on the felt?  How often do you see someone act like a jerk at the poker table?  On the road?  At work?  And it's not always a person going out of their way to do it either.  Too often it's someone not thinking ahead and not thinking about what effect their actions or words would have on others.  From the idiot who pushes his way into the correct road lane at the last second to the clown who brings 18 items into the 10 item or less lane at the supermarket, we are developing into a society of people who think their time is more important than anyone else's time  and therefore they are "entitled" to not wait in a regular line, or not get their car in the right lane 200 or 300 yards early and wait in line like the rest of us. 

We're all in such a hurry that we don't take the time to think of the other guy.  Oh I'm in a hurry or I'm running late so it's ok if I cut in front of everyone else.  In other words, "I'm more important".  This is probably why 90% of us think we are either excellent or better than average drivers.  Now certainly we can only view things from our own viewpoint but it's politeness and manners that ensure we aren't completely thinking of ourselves.  I'm as guilty as anyone of thinking of myself first but it's high time we all try to think of how some of the things we do effect others first.  So in this new year, one of my vows is to think of the other guy too.  Life is short, let's try to have a positive impact on more than just our bankrolls.  I know I'm getting preachy here and I do apologize but lately I've had a lot on my mind and though I don't express it too well sometimes, I would like to make a positive impact on those around me instead of being this guy

It's sometimes hard for me to not be that way.  I do tend to focus on the negative instead of the positive in my life.  And I shouldn't.  I have so much to be thankful for.  My wife and kids and dog are healthy and happy and we have jobs and homes and cars and friends and family etc.  Hey I even got a 5% raise at work this past week.  So time to cut down on Mr Nattering Nabob of Negativity and time to become Mr Positive and Hopeful instead.  Let's see if my results in life (and poker) are better this way.  If not, what have I lost?  Well with luck I am gonna play some cards today so I bid you all adieu (my wife has some French Cooking show on the tube right now) and I hope you all have a good weekend.  Stay lucky you nuts. 


Memphis MOJO said...

We have 1800 facebook friends and 2 real friends.

This is a great point.

I know I'm getting preachy here and I do apologize

Definitely no need to apologize. Terrific post and love the Azmimov reference.

lightning36 said...

Quoting Spiro Agnew in a poker post? Awesome!

I felt like I could have written this post myself. I also completely understand what Bammer said about WPBT. I felt disconnected because I was not connected to twitter via phone. But I didn't really care.

My wife took tons of photos and movies of our kids when they were young. I rarely did and told my wife that I do not want to be experiencing life looking through a viewfinder.

Today's generation lives and dies through their phones. While the phones allow for better keeping in touch in many cases, I certainly believe that the younger folks have fewer good people skills because of them.

The Neophyte said...

Thank you both for your kind words, glad you enjoyed the post.