10 Things I Learned From a Year Without Social Media

1. Social media isn’t bad.

Being without Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, SnapChat, Tumblr, this blog, and other forms of social media has not left me any worse for wear. However, there were times during my year-long hiatus when I missed feeling informed about friends, family, and acquaintances I have not bothered to actually reach out to. I also missed seeing local business events and finding cool things to do on the weekend.

2. Social media isn’t good either.

Twitter’s new feed hasn’t made me a better person and looking at pictures of famous athletes on Instagram hasn’t helped my body image. Aside from business use, it seems to me social media exists for two things: bragging and complaining.

3. Almost no one missed me.

In a world of constant flux and short attention spans, we are just not as important as we think we are… to everyone else. And here I thought America was hinging on my latest movie review or insightful philosophical introspection. I mean, it’s not like with me absent on FaceBook to challenge bad ideas America went to… hell… in… a handbasket… is it?

4. I didn’t miss you, either.

No offense. I love my friends and family–well, in a mostly congenial way, at least. I did not miss seeing pictures of drunken stupidity, incomprehensible political opinions, fake news, click bait, Bible quotes, chain letters, obscure rants, and pleas for random charities I’ve never heard of. In fact, I found that fewer things annoyed me while I was away from social media. No politics; no Idiocracy. (Know politics; know Idiocracy–sorry, couldn’t resist.)

5. Social media is great for finding stuff to do.

This is the thing I missed most, actually. Facebook is probably the number one way Nicole and I find interesting things to do on the weekend. Better than friends is subscribing to all of your favorite local businesses and restaurants! (Sorry friends. I didn’t not mean that. I love you guys.)

6. Standing in line without social media is still boring.

I thought without being able to scroll through my feeds while waiting at the checkout, I would think about important work matters or contemplate life, or engage with people in line, or just be present in the world. Instead, I found there is not enough time and attention to become lost in thought or solve problems in line. People around me are avoiding eye contact by scrolling through their phones. Instead of being present, I just waited more impatiently, reading celebrity headlines. Social media is actually more fun than not talking to anyone.

7. I understand why parents find watching kids play with their phones so annoying.

Sometimes, while on my social media hiatus, Nicole or one of my friends would scroll through their feed while I sat there doing nothing. It is super annoying but not because it is socially impolite like old people rant about. It is 100% FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). I am just bored in those moments and I don’t want to be bored alone. It feels like the other person is doing something more important and fun than being bored alone with me. How dare they?

8. I don’t feel less connected to the world.

Turns out, there are many outlets and ways to find information outside of the Twitters. I used Google news to stay depressed and cynical. I sometimes checked into Meetup to ensure I didn’t lose any FOMO opportunities. I hung out with friends when I wanted to see people make bad decisions that I could laugh about later. My life felt no less connected without social media.

9. I am less angry over fewer things.

I love my friends, coworkers, and family–that’s why they are in my life–but I found I actually like people more when I know less about them. I guess I’m an optimist but in my mind I see the best version of people I can muster. My friends are rational, reasonable, respectful, sane people… and then I see their tweets.

10. I spend more time “in the moment”.

Being present is good when the present is beautiful or miraculous. It’s just that most moments suck. Most moments are boring and unremarkable. Think about the insane percentage of your life spent waiting… in line, for pages to load, for the bathroom, for commercials to end, at red lights, looking in the fridge, pooping… It’s great to be more present, but some presents are with skipping. Even endlessly scrolling through Facebook is better than sitting at the DMV with nothing else to do.

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Why I Left Social Media Behind

I am dropping off Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Snapchat, and most other social media platforms.

I know many people will not only relate to my reasons, but they might even applaud my decision (if only silently). I hope this experiment gives you some thought to the impact of social media and what value it brings to your life.

I am calling out Facebook here because it is easier than listing every platform, and it is the one I use most, as well as the biggest, easiest target. Think of “Facebook” as any social media service, though. I am talking about all of them.

Around 2005, I left cable television (hold on–this relates to the social media thing, I promise).

Watching TV stole months from my life. Time slipped away while I sat and watched it go each day. TV became my way of turning my brain off instead of engaging with the world. I found myself sitting to watch a show, and then channel surfing between shows, and then, before I knew it, half a day was gone. I didn’t even watch anything all the way through. That time was wasted. I learned nothing. I thought nothing. I did nothing. I might as well have been nothing, invisible to the world for the time spent staring mindlessly at a screen.

Dropping cable in favor of curated content from the internet or no content at all was a great decision. When I watch TV now, it is only when I actively choose to do so and I am engaged in the content. TV is no longer background noise to all my conversations. Instead, I listen to the person speaking rather than divide my attention between the person and commercials designed to steal my attention.

Facebook has slowly filled the gap cable television left. It has become the thing I do to avoid thinking when I am bored, scrolling mindlessly through my feed.

There are 5 real reasons I use Facebook and other social media and, except for one, they are all reasons I should reconsider…

1. Distribute my blog. This is the main reason I am on social media. Most of my readers find this blog and A Couple Vegans (which I write with Nicole) through Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Moving away from social media means damaging my audience size and reach. That is scary. I have built this blog over roughly 10 years to amass around 4,000 subscribers. Admittedly, not much compared to bigger brands or names, but I never chased an audience or marketed this blog. Still, only about 200 readers consistently visit MichaelSalamey.com (maybe the rest are subscribed via email but–how many email subscriptions do you actually read each week?). A Couple Vegans is only a few months old and only has a handful of subscribers itself (about a hundred so far–also with no marketing other than word of mouth).

So… for you 300 or so people consistently visiting my blog(s), you might be the only people I am writing to in the future. Thanks for subscribing, by the way, and for sharing the posts you like. You are my only advertising.

2. I use social media to have meaningless relationships with people I do not want to have actual contact with in real life. That sounds bad but it is not a bad thing. Facebook allows me to exist on the periphery of the lives of people I almost care about… but not enough to actually engage with face-to-face. For someone like me, this is of great benefit.

As a slightly sociopathic but high-functioning ambivert, I am friendly to everybody… but, to be honest, I do not relate to most people. I am not even sure I like most people. In fact, only one or two people have open access to my time. Other than Nicole, nobody hangs out with me regularly.

Socially speaking, maybe that is pathetic. It is not you, though. It’s me.

At the risk of sounding (more) egotistical, perhaps I am that rare thing everyone believes themselves to be, but almost no one is… a man who thinks for himself.

My values, philosophy, beliefs, moral code, and system of ethics rarely integrate with those of others. Actually… never, so far. But I suspect that is why people read my blog–you can expect a unique view of things. In my personal life, I have been told no one can live up to my standards. So maybe it is not that I do not like most people. Maybe it is that I have yet to meet people who are more like me.

Living a life where the common ground I have with most people amounts to polite tolerance of each other, honestly, is lonely for me. I wish I could be dumber or smarter, instead of in this middle ground between average and almost-greatness… floating in some purgatory, unable to feel part of either mass popularity or eccentric genius.

Woe is me. First World problems. The point is, Facebook is a great way for some people to feel involved in the world without actually having to BE involved in the world. That is a mostly good thing but it is something I can use less of.

3. I stalk people and popular news stories. The same curiosity that drives people to the zoo drives me to keep up on news and social circles. We visit the zoo expecting to see elephants in their natural habitat, but instead see morbidly depressed animals slowly pacing or pooping. Part of us yearns to hear the elephant’s trumpet or watch a lion charge across the plains. Similarly, Facebook delivers less on its promise and more on the mundanity of our lives.

Social media updates are about what someone ate, aspirational quotes the posters have never incorporated into their lives, open displays of the obscure relationship some people have with their faith and binge-drinking. People check-in from whenever they are standing in line, or spout the bizarrely irrational political or dogmatic views they have. Some people insist on sharing their ignorance with the world. It’s confounding, but I am also probably one of them.

Still, I am too often disappointed when I see someone’s Facebook feed. I liked them before knowing their goofball endorsements of products or illogical values. It was better when I could assume they were, on most levels, rational.

4. To learn about local events. Social media is helpful for this. Nicole and I do a lot of cool things because of events posted on Facebook. Another plus of leaving it behind, though, is I might save money by not knowing about most events.

5. I use social media to pass time and avoid human interaction. It is easier–preferable, even–to avoid engaging strangers while standing in line or waiting for food. Instead, I can pretend that scanning short, mostly irrelevant articles or updates is extraordinarily important right at that moment. While waiting to have my groceries scanned, I stare at my phone like I am reading my secret agent mission dossier or studying up on quantum physics. I’m actually just looking at Caturday memes.

We like to think that “catching up on Facebook” is the same as “catching up with friends” but it is not the same. I must have an investment in someone’s life to “catch up” on their life. People share superficial thoughts, vague requests for prayers about problems I don’t understand for people I do not know (I love the term for this: “Vaguebooking”). We share memes and sensationalized news stories. That is not catching up with friends. That is walking through conversations at a dinner party… except without dinner or a party, or anywhere to go.

 

What will I do when I am bored now?

Those 5 things are not contributing enough to me, so I am leaving social media behind. My phrasing is important, by the way. I did not say “I am leaving social media”. I am saying, “I am leaving social media behind.” I am moving on, not away. I am going to find something better. However, I do not know what that is yet, exactly.

I guess I will write, think, speak to people, and read more books. Maybe I will just be present, observing and appreciating the world around me. Maybe I will engage my creative side and take time to daydream. Whatever I do to fill the time Facebook sucked away, I doubt I will look back and think, “I wish I spent less time enjoying the breeze on my face and more time staring at my phone, scrolling through dumb articles and avoiding my life.”

That being said, this is still an experiment. I am not deleting my accounts. I might change my mind on all of this, or I might want to try again with a different approach. What I plan to do is log out of my accounts and uninstall the apps from my phone.

That means my blog will still post on my social media streams for now, but nothing else will, and I won’t be sharing my posts on my personal Facebook feed, where most people see them.

Some people actually might miss me on social media. Well, at least I like to think that, but I suspect most people will never know I left. It’s like quietly slipping away from a party. Maybe one or two people will notice they have not seen me in a while, but they will move on in a few minutes.

The fact is, I am not as important as I like to think I am.

If you want to know what I am up to or how I am doing, though, then you will have to do something scary. You will have to choose if you want me in your life, how much time you would like me to spend there, and then connect with me directly. I might reject you. You might reject me. Or we might build a real, legitimate friendship in the real world. I know. Scary, right?

There are some apps I am keeping, at least for now. I will stay on WhatsApp because I can create specific social circles with people I care about (like my brothers and parents) where we can have conversations in small groups that matter, where every word counts. I am keeping Hangouts for texting–again, direct one-to-one conversations, and I plan to stay on other direct message platforms like GroupMe and Slack.

Of course, you will be able to text me, instant message me on Hangouts, email me (MichaelSalamey@gmail.com) or reach me through one of my blogs.

Honestly, you probably won’t know I’m gone, but if you miss me, don’t be a stranger… or at least no stranger than me. Hopefully, not seeing me on Facebook will help you wonder what I am up to, and what you could be up to if you were not on Facebook.

Good luck either way. Maybe I’ll see you later… in the real world!

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Who Are They Talking To?

Today’s Lesson: Your team talks about you and it is not all pleasant. Get over it.

*****

After overcoming a hefty amount of fear (and continuing to overcome it), I introduced a group chat tool to a team of remote workers. There was some hesitation from the executive team (who “grew up”, so to speak, in the traditional work environment) and I give them credit for embracing their fears and moving forward anyway.

They said…

“…But these people don’t talk to each other now. What if they start talking to each other and finding out some of them are paid differently or have special exceptions made?”  They already assume not everyone is paid exactly the same and life is not always perfectly fair. As leaders, we are thrusting our heads into the sand and pretending the world does not exist if we really think our employees never talk to each other. (After I enrolled the employees, it turns out a few of them were already using the app anyway!)

“…But what if they say bad stuff about the company? Can we shut them down?”  They already say bad stuff about the company (some of them). The difference is, you have no insight at all into what they are saying now. By being involved in the conversation, you might have a chance to correct misinformation or bad attitudes, or prevent both altogether.

“…But what if somebody posts something inappropriate or uses bad language?” How do you handle that now, if someone does the same thing in an email or at a meeting in front of everyone? Why would you do anything different here?

“But… but… but…” But it is time to stop pretending we work in 1950. People will talk, collaborate, and occasionally misbehave whether or not you are watching. At least now, you might have some input. Even if you do not, you are naive to think your people can not lambaste you or your company now on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or their own blogs, or just by texting or emailing their friends. You are plain crazy to think you can isolate them from a world of mass communication. Your choice here is to embrace technology and leverage it to become a better leader/ team/ company or sit idly while your people and your competitors embrace it.

Your people are already talking. The question is, if they are not talking to you, then who are they talking to?

 

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You Are What You Seek

Today’s Lesson: You are like gravity. You attract the people, situations, feelings, and life surrounding you. If you see nothing but despair, inequality, and suffering everywhere you look, consider looking for better people, situations, feelings, and lives to surround yourself with. 

*****

Scrolling through social media posts is something I find myself limiting more and more. I like to see what friends and family are up to but I can only take it in small doses. The overwhelming majority of posts, in my opinion, are really just complaints (including mine, including this one!).

Some of us are on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Snapchat, Instagram, etc… to find and share everything we think is wrong with the world. Articles on people we never met who died, links to rants about politics, racism, sexism, posts challenging people who do not agree with our religion (or non-religion), pictures of the stupid people we saw or dumb things we did today, stories of abuse to people, pets, or the environment… the list is endless.

It is all like a cloud of poison, spreading and permeating gossip and negativity into the world. I get it. The world is not perfect and some people want to change it (most of us just want to complain about it, though, because actually changing it is hard and we are busy coming up with new complaints). Consider, however, how much of your life is spent seeking out what is wrong with everyone else’s lives.

Some people just seem miserable all the time. I feel for them. My life is not perfect by any means. I am always working to improve something, but generally, I do not seek or mostly ignore hate, bad parenting, tasteless humor, and anything that ends with -ism (racism, feminism, sexism, theism, environmentalism, etc.). Because I avoid these things and actively work to keep them out of my life, they are not part of my world (much).

I am not advocating living with rose-tinted lenses. I know there are real problems in the world, but unless we are individually actively and actually addressing them (which means doing more than sharing articles or sending what is essentially hate-mail to everyone, which means sending it to no one), I recommend taking the timeless advice grandmothers have given for generations: if you can’t say anything nice, then do not say anything at all.

It is okay to either not have an opinion or to keep one to yourself.

In the modern world, that may mean using a simple guideline to structure your world more positively. A good start for many is to simply un-friend or un-follow the people, organizations, or brands who are not making your life better. If they are not contributing to your life, then consider what they are contributing to.

You are what you seek. What world will you choose to live in today? 

 

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YouTube Or Mine?

YouTube… it’s not just for watching you on the tube anymore.
***

YouTube has become one of my favorite sources for entertainment. I used to think of it as only a repository of short clips of random people doing dumb things, ranting about stuff on the internet, product reviews, and sometimes old music videos.

Now I have come to rely on YouTube as a source for actual regular shows with regular programming. It has become as much an alternative to cable for me as Netflix. I find it an especially good source for short, funny shows. Sometimes I only have a few minutes at the end of my day–not a half hour to commit to a show. YouTube is perfect for that.

I love that there is a popular outlet for innovative and creative novelty shows that would otherwise never see the light of day (especially on network television, which is being forced to come into the next century, albeit reluctantly).

Thanks to YouTube (and many other platforms like Vine, Instagram, and even Twitter), the internet has given permission for anyone to create art and share it with the world.

Today’s lesson: There is a lot more art and interesting things in the world than the handful of powerful media conglomerates would have you believe. Check some of them out. Here is a YouTube starter kit (some of my favorite shows you can subscribe to):

Kid Snippets (family friendly skits of adults acting out scripts read by kids)

Honest Trailers (not always safe for work, but very funny movie recaps)

The Vegan Zombie (entertaining vegan cooking show… with zombies!)

Cyanide and Happiness (definitely controversial but very funny cartoons)

SciShow (well… a show about science; family friendly and entertaining)

 

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10 Ways to Get People to Read Your Blog!

If you live your life hinging on the approval or popularity given by others, you will quickly find yourself at the bottom of the ladder you thought you were climbing.


I am not a big fan of titles like the one I used for this post. One of the choices I consciously make for this blog is to avoid “click-bait”, a term used by marketers to describe headlines that are purposefully designed to get you to click on them.

Here are a few from my Facebook feed today (I am not posting the links because I do not want to promote their content; these are just the titles of articles–they are probably in your feed, too):

7 Delicious Ways to Celebrate Thanksgiving Without the Turkey

7 Photography Tricks You Didn’t Know Your Smartphone Could Do

What This Dad Caught His Daughter Doing in the Car May Be the Cutest Thing Ever

29 Passive-Aggressive Windshield Notes That Forgot How to Passive

3 Best-Ever Discipline Practices That Parents of Teenagers Need to Know

Men Learned to Explore the World to Get Laid


You get the idea. They usually try to draw you in with a number, “10 Ways to…” and then a hot or trending topic, “…tell if your boyfriend is cheating”, often to do with sex. Celebrity and sex always work… celebrity sex might be even better. They use vague but compelling lines so you will click… and usually find the story itself is either mostly unrelated to the headline or at least a lot less sensational.

Anyway, today’s lesson is this: if you want more people to read your blog, just write great content, and repeat that process often. You don’t have to pull in masses to be a success anymore. The internet makes the world smaller and a blog that delivers amazing results and great content to five people is more powerful, in my opinion, than one that delivers recycled click bait and social media fodder to five million.

Or, put another way: you define your success as much as your success defines you.

 

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Today’s Lesson: Let’s Talk About It

How much time are you wasting trying to be perfect instead of trying to produce results?

 

This post is geared more toward fellow blogger (or blogger-curious) friends. If writing on-line is not your thing, you might want to skip this one (but there is a great lesson at the end!). We will get back to our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow…

I am dropping the comments section from my blog and (this part is more for other bloggers) no longer using meta keywords to draw traffic.

There are a few things I have done, or stopped doing, to make my blog more efficient and less burdensome on me. Since I have taken on posting a daily life lesson, I have begun to start thinking about blogging differently. I stopped adding dates to the blog title to keep it more “timeless” and less “timely“.

Now I am turning off comments. Have I lost my mind? Debatable, but not relevant to the blog. I am dropping comments for a few reasons. The main reason is simple… most of my readers do not comment on the posts. They comment or reply to my social media updates linking to the blog. Some people email me directly and my contact information will remain available in the “More/ About Me” section. One reader even called me at three in the morning one night and we chatted about a post until I had to get ready for work.

The other reason is I have found that most comments are made by people who, honestly, either did not read the actual article or did not understand the main content of it. Better to have those people talking to me on Facebook instead of cluttering the blog itself with comments. Finally, my blog is almost entirely editorial. I am not providing, in most cases, fact-checked peer-reviewed articles to debate. It is just me sharing lessons I learn each day or ranting about an injustice I perceive in the world. I love having open communication and hearing from readers but it does not have to be on the post page itself. That is what Facebook, Google+, and Twitter are for.

For those of you that do not blog, after you type each post, you can enter in certain words to help readers find that particular post if they search on Google or other sites. So, for today’s post I might add meta keywords like, “comments, social media, blog, michael salamey” to help raise my ranking in search engines for this post.

However, it turns out that meta key words have almost zero impact on search rankings now and can sometimes put you in Google’s potential “spam” category if you flood your keywords to try to appeal to their rankings regardless of your actual content.

I sometimes spend five minutes trying to tie the right keywords for each post. I would rather spend the five minutes creating better content. If I have compelling content that people share often, I will not need the help of keyword shortcuts. Google and Facebook are far more interested in a blog that gets distribution than one that has a lot of hidden words behind each post!

All of that brings us to today’s lesson: don’t carry unnecessary burdens. Remove the obstacles that make your passion a chore. Remember, it does not have to be perfect anyway. I blog for fun and to help others, but even if I was doing it to drive income, the time spent on the parts with the least amount of value will provide greater return if I let them go than if I keep carrying their weight.

…And, besides blogging, how many other areas of our lives can we look into for the same lesson?

 

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Today’s Lesson: Old Rules Don’t Apply [140904]

With the advent of the internet, social media, crowd-sourcing, and mobile technology, there are more innovative ways to do business now than slow-moving regulators can keep up with.

It is both humorous and frustrating to watch traditionalists resist change. New York City, once known as the hub of business and innovation, now fights new ideas like Airbnb, a service that enables you to travel the world by letting strangers rent spare rooms or couches to would-be jet-setters. The same is true for Lyft and Uber–two services that allow people to rent their cars when not in use. EatWith, another popular service that links up foodies with meals so authentic they are cooked at the chef’s house, is also facing pushback from state regulators.

How do we know the meals are safe (how do you know they are safe at a restaurant…and if your answer is “regulation”, then how do you explain the many cases of food poisoning?)? How do we know people won’t rent rooms for prostitution or to sell drugs (what stops them now?)?

The old rules don’t apply anymore and regulators need to step out-of-the-way or learn to move with innovation and technology instead of trying to stifle it. Being afraid of change is natural and understandable but letting fear cripple you is not healthy. Business is no longer big, bulky, and easy to control. It’s micro-sized and nimble now. It’s Etsy, Pinterest, Kickstarter, and Bitcoin. It is simultaneously local and global, it is a connection economy, and it is growing no matter what.

So today’s lesson is: the way we do business is changing fast. How can we leverage the tools and power of technology, social media, and crowdsourcing to make our lives better and our businesses profitable for the foreseeable future?

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3 Business Tools You Use That Your Kids Do Not

 

Typewriter, by Petr Kratochvil - 050210

 

I have had a few conversations about technology and the generation gap this week. It got me thinking about some distinctions I see in the way common tech tools are used between Gen X’ers like me and Gen Y and Millenials. Here are three common tools I use regularly that my little brothers and their friends would scoff at:

Old School:  Business Cards.

You are at a social function or  business event and you strike up a conversation about widgets with Bob from Acme, Inc. You and Bob hit it off and realize you may be able to help each other or share valuable advice somewhere down the line. What do you do? Exchange business cards, of course. At least that is what you might do if you are over 30 years old.

New Generation: Social Media.

My little brothers may never have business cards. I stopped carrying them myself more than a year ago. I struck up a conversation with a gentleman at a restaurant a few weeks ago. Turned out we are both vegans and read a lot of the same material. He asked for my business card as he extended his. I asked him to hold his card while I snapped a picture of it with my phone. I explained I no longer use business cards and rather than collect and store them in a folder or wallet I will rarely look at, I instead snap pictures of the cards and upload them to my free Evernote account. When I need to find a card or contact info, I open a browser wherever I am and search for the person’s name (or any text in the picture) and Evernote pulls it up. The gentleman (a little sheepishly) then asked for my card. I smiled and said, “My business card is Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MichaelSalamey.com, or you can just do a Google Search for me. Do you have a cell phone? Just put my Google Voice number in your contacts and be sure to spell my name right. Now you can find me anytime, follow me socially, text me, or give me a call whenever you need me. Who needs a business card?”

 

My new friend Patrick followed a similar route. I met him at a party the other day, and he noticed I had a blackberry device, as did he. He sent his contact info and Blackberry Messenger virtual business card via Bluetooth directly to my phone. He snapped a picture of me with his phone and stored it in his contacts. Now we have pictures of each other, we can instant message, or communicate via Facebook, etc. We could even share our geographic location with each other, at our discretion, via Google Lattitude.

Augmented Reality applications offer even better, sleeker ways to network and interface with new people. Soon your phone will use facial recognition to pull up all the social media information you want about a person (or that they want you to have).

 

Old School:  Voicemail.

My cousin Abe trained me to stop leaving him voicemail about a year ago. I would call and leave a message and he would call back a few minutes later, asking if I had called. I would say, “Yes. I left a message.” He would patiently remind me that he never checks his messages. One day, just to illustrate his point, he called his voice mail on speaker phone. He had 43 messages. 43! They went back several months. “See?” he said, “Why do people even leave voicemails anyway? That’s what caller ID is for.”

 

I thought this was just Abe’s way of being eccentric, but my little brothers stopped checking their voicemail too. It is pointless to leave a message on their phone. Some of my younger friends do not even bother to set it up on their phones.

 

New Generation: IM, SMS, or Google Voice.

A few weeks ago, while chatting with Jody Thompson, she asked if I noticed that teens do not use voicemail. I brought up my little brothers, and thought of Abe. It turns out voicemail is going the way of the Atari 2600 for most young people. A friend noted he is annoyed when people leave voice messages. “Why not just text me instead of making me log into my voicemail every time someone leaves a message, listen to the time/date stamp, and then their boring rant before they just get to the point? Send a text—I know what you want immediately and I can probably respond in 140 characters or less.”

 

Texting and Instant Messaging is what the tech-savvy do. I’m a little ahead of the curve on this one. I use Google Voice (perhaps my all-time favorite application). One of its many wonderful features is “voice-to-text”. When someone leaves a voicemail, it appears on my phone as a text message. I can play the audio or respond via text.

 

Old School:  Cell Phone.

Abe joked on my Facebook wall that he downloaded an application for his Blackberry that allowed him to use the device to send and receive telephone calls. I thought that was funny because like many power-users, I rarely use my cell phone as an actual phone.

 

New Generation: Smart Phone.

The vast majority of time spent using my phone is to take advantage of its multimedia capabilities, to browse the web, or to manage tasks and calendars. I spent less than 200 minutes of time actually “talking on the phone” last month. Cell phones (and many home phones) have been replaced by “Smart Phones”—phones capable of doing much more than make and accept voice calls. None is more popular than the IPhone, of course, but I wonder how long the concept of a phone will be around.

 

Apple’s mega-popular IPad (which I suspect has forced Microsoft to reconsider its options) has already given a glimpse of a near future where the phone is as archaic as the Model T. With an ultra-thin high-resolution tablet PC and clever use of Bluetooth and applications like Google Voice, the phone as we once knew it, may soon be as irrelevant as… well… this. (That’s nerd humor; for non-techies, you have to click on the word “this” to get the joke).

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