Is social media and modern technology turning us all into a bunch of worrywarts and wannabe nannies for people who didn’t ask our opinion in the first place?
An insignificant incident this past week involving some players on the New York Giants football team that generated way too much publicity than it warranted has me believing that the answer, sadly, is yes.
If you’re a football fan, then you are all too aware by now that following the Giants victory over the Redskins at the end of the regular season, several Giants wide receivers flew down to Miami and partied late into the night with luminaries like Justin Bieber. It wasn’t long before pictures hit social media and a firestorm of criticism erupted with all sorts of Monday morning quarterbacks in the blogosphere claiming the Giants players weren’t taking their craft seriously, especially with a playoff game looming the following weekend.
Did I mention that all this took place on the team’s off day, and no practices or team meetings were missed?
When did the old Jeffersonian ideal of a personal pursuit of happiness only become socially allowable as long as a plurality of strangers approve? I could go on about how in the past people either didn’t know or care that Mickey Mantle hit 536 home runs with massive hangovers, and as this is a family column I won’t even go into Babe Ruth’s postgame proclivities.
One doesn’t need to be a celebrity or professional athlete these days to get the nanny treatment from strangers either. Drive around the block and chances are your actions were recorded on a half-dozen cameras while your cell phone was pinging your location and a chip in your car was recording how fast you were going along the way.
Oddly, with modern technology and social media, much of this big brother treatment is self-inflicted. Today we crave peer approval to the point of psychosis, asking our faux cyber friends to like our every move, or begging customers no matter how small the transaction for a five-star rating. I have a hard time believing men of yesteryear would have cared a wit whether someone in the periphery of their life liked or disliked that they went out bowling Saturday night with their family.
With modern technology, we have the world at our fingertips and the power to do so much more than previous generations, and what did we decide to do with this power? Search out our fellow citizens’ personal doings and become exhibitionists, inviting everyone to look in on us. We used to make fun of Sally Field’s “You like me… you like me” Oscar squeals. Now, like Sally, we all fret whether strangers we’ll never know like us.
I’m not a Luddite. I enjoy most of the new technology and social media, and I’m not like the weenie Europeans who go overboard trying to tame technology in the name of privacy, like France’s new “right to disconnect law” which gives employees protection if they don’t want to read or send emails after-hours. I thought it was the height of absurdity when the Germans had pixilated the wanted picture of Anis Amri, who had killed 12 people in a terrorist attack, out of respect for his privacy while he was still at large.
I can’t say I necessarily have the answer on what to do about the constant intrusion into our private lives and loss of freedom that comes with it. I do, however, admire the Giants organization’s pluck. When the criticism began, they didn’t rush out to apologize like I’m sure all the naysayers expected. The only comment Head Coach Ben McAdoo had to say on the subject when asked was, “Players are off until tomorrow morning,” and Wide Receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. fired back saying, “I handle my business. I’m a grown man. I do what I am supposed to be doing. I’m in the building, when I’m supposed to be in the building. I don’t miss team meetings. None of that.”
For sanity sake, I suggest we all take a page out of the Giants’ playbook and care a little less what the peanut gallery thinks of us, and politely but firmly tell people to mind their own business when they question you on how you have chosen to live your life.
We all know by now that the Packers creamed the Giants in this weekend’s playoff game. This I’m sure will ignite again the criticism and the finger pointing from the mob, to which I say nonsense. Have we forgotten Joe Namath’s great guarantee poolside before the Jets Super Bowl III? Does anyone seriously believe someone nicknamed Broadway Joe was living like a saint in his off time? The simple reason the Packers won this weekend is they were a better team. Period.
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