My Side of the Fence

The danger isn't going too far. It's that we don't go far enough.

Bye-Bye Facebook

Mobile phones have become central to what most people do all day long.  Walk in any restaurant or coffee shop and half the people might as well be someplace else.  Go to a concert and you will see among the most ridiculous things ever: rows and rows of people holding their phones up, eyes locked onto the phone screen, recording the concert….at a live event.  I often wonder: Why bother going to a live event?  Why go have coffee with someone if you're going to ignore each other?  Just go to lunch with yourself or, better yet, just sit in your office and stare at your phone.  You'll save money.

For my part I admit that, while I resisted being as obnoxious as others, I was doing the same thing.  So what changed?  Well, a couple of weeks ago I was sitting in a restaurant and nearly every table was occupied by people completely buried in their phone.  I could have run around naked and nobody would have noticed.  I know this goes on all day long and, maybe it was the moment, maybe my frame of mind but it struck me.  A vision of pure absurdity.  40 humans, most of whom might as well be sitting on the moon\ for all the good being in that restaurant did for them.

So I did the only thing I could do: I deleted Facebook off my phone.  Yes, yes….that's stern medicine but the fact of the matter is that Facebook wasn't adding anything to my own sanity on a day by day basis.  I suddenly had all this free time to talk to other people…if only they weren't on their phones.  

Oddly, this also changed how other people interacted with me.  I'd go to lunch, sit down and look at the menu.  Select what I wanted and then look over my menu – and my lunch date was still staring at her phone.  I waited.  She looked up.  I could see her eyes dart around my side of the table.  Searching in vain for my phone.  She smiled and put her phone down.  Processing what was going on and figuring out what to say all at the same time.  I've done the same thing 3 or 4 times now and the outcome is pretty much the same every time.  When we, as a family, have dinner we have a thing where we pile all the phones up in the middle of the table.  Nobody pulls their phone out.  When we're at to dinner, if you pull your phone out of the pile, you pay!

Now, I run a technology company so I'm no Luddite and I do enjoy the connections that Facebook provides – especially now that I've mercilessly cut down my friends list and unfollowed people who routinely irritate me.  However, on a day by day basis, Facebook doesn't make me happy.  It drags me back into high school – level baloney.  I don't need it.  So, what I've decided to do is delete Facebook off my phone during weekdays and if I want I'll install it on my phone for the weekends.  That seems like a reasonable compromise….I'll let you know how it goes.

Catching Up

Just a few random things….

Good response to last weeks post on part of the CIP program.  Got some interesting responses from a couple of our elected leaders.  Whatever happens it is pretty clear this hasn't been well communicated or even thought out….why else would you buy property before "anything has been decided"?  This is bad for an expenditure of this type.  Hopefully our government gets it together although I see nobody picking up the standard and making it happen so I'm not all that optimistic.  Saying you support something is a lot easier and politically cheaper than building the consensus necessary to make things happen.  I hear a lot of the former and none of the latter.  We shall see.

I had occasion to travel to the Chicago suburbs this week.  I didn't like it much.  The roads were horrible and they have unattended toll booths there.  I expect a love note from the state of Illinois on that matter.  They also have "right turn on red" there but many of the intersections are marked "no turn on red".  I expect a further love note from my friends in Illinois on that front.  The weather continues to suck anywhere that I happen to be and the place where I was this week was just kind of "meh".  Chain restaurant hell, lousy hotel gym.  No pool.  Long meetings.  It seems odd to say but I am glad I went as I learned a lot but I didn't much enjoy the experience.  The first night the thunderstorms were so intense I kept checking my phone for tornado alerts.  Interestingly, the tornado shelters in O'Hare airport are the bathrooms.  Wonder if it matters which one you go in during a tornado?

Speaking of which.  While I was waiting for my return flight I went into the bathroom and was standing at the urinal when a person dressed in a skirt and blouse walked up to a urinal a couple down from mine, hiked up their skirt and peed in the urinal.  I am proud to announce that the world didn't end.  It was unusual for sure and, as I was busy, I have no idea if that was a male or female.  I honestly don't care.  I understand that my lady friends may have to conduct more complicated business in the restroom but if you want to dress up like a woman (or be an actual woman) and go into the Men's room, be my guest.

My take on this issue is two-fold.  First off, from a cynical point of view, I'm suspicious of the timing.  I hate to be that cynic but it reminds me of the I-66 toll "issue" last year.  It seems like a convenient way to distract folks from the persistent and, as of now, unsolved problems in our country.  It's a powerful, visceral issue and, in the hands of our political machines, sure to turnout voters on both sides of the issue while leaving our more serious problems untouched.

As to the issue itself, I understand that people have real and deeply held opinions on this issue.  Many of those opinions are tied to their faith.  I get that.  I also get that folks in the LGBT crowd feel as though their rights have been abridged. My take on this comes from my years in municipal government and in civil administration simpler is better: if you look like a woman, use the ladies room.  If not, use the other one.  I realize that answer will make nobody happy but it does work in the real world….and quite frankly has been how the world has worked until this debate arose.  Imagine a place like Fedex field with men wandering into the womens rest room….and vice versa.  I think that's chaos.  Laws that say "go to the restroom of your original sex" just seem problematic to enforce.  It's going to take about 10 minutes until there is a "prove it" moment in a public place….and it is going to be a woman dressed as a man….going into the ladies room.  Not hard to see that coming.

There's some problems that maybe the government shouldn't solve?….and maybe some problems right up the governments alley that are being ignored?

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