Tag Archives: facebook

How more technology means less technology

28 Aug

A couple of days ago I got my first android smartphone. It’s low end, but I love it! I have had my piece of crap cellphone for several years – it’s so crap it even freezes when I text. And that’s all I do – text, use the alarm, and receive calls. I didn’t even make calls because it was too pricey. Not anymore. I scorn gadgetry… but now I am rather chuffed with my smartphone.

Here’s why I think it’s good for me and my son:

I spent too much time on the computer. I know this, yet I feel helpless to resist. As a single Mum, the computer is often my only contact with the “outside world”. When you live alone with a toddler who goes to sleep about 7pm every night, it can get pretty lonely. And even throughout the day I find myself checking emails a lot, even when he’s awake, because frankly, his conversational skills aren’t up to much. No matter how much you love someone it can be exhausting being with them all the time. And a 17 month old is very demanding of attention!

I feel pretty guilty about this. I feel guilty because my son deserves my attention and he is learning that the computer is pretty important to me. I feel guilty because sometimes I sit him on my lap and let him watch Sesame St songs on one half of the screen while I do things on the other half. I never wanted to plonk him in front of a screen. I feel guilty because it does stave off my boredom, and if I didn’t have that, I’d probably think of more creative things to do that would be better for the both of us.

So here’s how my new phone helps with all that. I have synced my Gmail and Facebook accounts to my phone. This means that I get a bleep every time I get an email, as well as texts. I don’t even have to read the emails, but I can see who it’s from and what it’s about, and decide to ignore it or check it, without going back and forward to the computer. Yesterday I was having a conversation with my friend on Facebook and I decided to take the baby for a walk. I didn’t have to stop the conversation, I just took it with me! My son was perfectly happy walking along without my talking to him all the time – in fact I think he’d prefer if I left him to it! Both our needs were met.

My computer time has been drastically reduced. It’s much easier and more discreet to check my phone than to check my computer. And I’m not replacing computer screen time with phone screen time, I’m just not having as much screen time full stop. I find it easier to completely forget about it all until my phone bleeps, and even then I am able to ignore emails more than I would if I was on the computer.

And of course it has other cool features.

So that is my story of how my smartphone has helped with the thing I feel most guilty about – time on the computer.

Macsyna King and free speech

30 Jun

Here in New Zealand, there has been a huge public outcry against the publication of a book. Macsyna King had two little twin boys who were murdered at the age of 3 months. Wikipedia has an explanation here. For an account, see: The Kahui Twins: Murder – and the cover-up. Both articles are horrifying reading. There are so many things wrong with this story. Obviously the main tragedy is that the twins were fatally abused in such an awful way. I was also concerned to read that CYF removed the twins’ 12 month old brother and 6 month old cousin, who were treated in hospital for ‘injuries resulting from neglect’ and malnourishment. That’s the good bit. The bad bit is that they were due to be returned to their parents a few months later. Those poor children. Thank goodness no one in the family would step up and be their caregiver.

Although I agree in theory that every effort should be made to support parents and kin so that children can stay with the birth family, I am horrified that these children were due to be returned. Back to a family responsible for injuries, neglect, malnourishment, filth, and two homicides. Sometimes the family they are born to is the worst place for children to be.

I was quick to join the Facebook page Boycott the Macsyna King book. I wasn’t the only one: within one day there were over 30,000 members. There are now over 42,000 and the number jumps if you refresh the page. Child abuse is clearly something the general public have no tolerance for.

It does lead me to wonder about the question of free speech and how that applies in a situation like this. No one has been convicted of the twins’ murder, but someone killed them. So their mother has teamed up with journalist Ian Wishart and written a ‘tell-all’ book.

Of course they’re allowed to write a book. And no one has to read it. Lots of people probably will, because the human race seems to be a sucker for schadenfreude. What else can explain horror movies and crime shows? Anyway, that’s a whole different topic. Free speech is a basic human right and we are all entitled to it. But I agree with the detractors: it just doesn’t feel right that she is trying to sell a book and profit from the death of her baby boys. If she wants ‘the truth to be known then they can make it available as a free e-book. And if she isn’t profiting from it, as Ian Wishart says, who is?

It brings to mind the case of the e-book sold on Amazon about how to be a paedophile. I don’t remember the exact details but the blurb was something about how to not get caught, and how to do it right. It was sickening. No one likes to be confronted with examples of child abuse and paedophilia, but I was disturbed by Amazon’s free speech stance on the book. Unlike the Macsyna King book, it wasn’t a ‘tell-all’, it was a ‘how-to’. Eventually after an intense amount of public protest, they removed the listing.

Here in New Zealand, Paper Plus and The Warehouse have already declared they won’t be stocking the book. I’m glad about that. Free speech means that they are free to write the book. They’re not being arrested or lynch mobbed for it (at least not physically, they’re almost being cyber-mobbed). But that doesn’t mean we have to accept it. It’s not even so much about the book itself. It’s about the public and the retailers making a statement that child abuse is not OK. Stonewalling police investigations into infant homicide is not OK. The lifestyle that these people led is really no way to live. Bring this to the forefront of people’s attention. Make it absolutely clear that the sort of behaviour the Kahui family and associates have displayed is not acceptable.  In the video I linked to above, author Ian Wishart asks ‘what went wrong here, and what can we learn from this?’ which I think are valid questions. Emotionally though, I just can’t deal with the book and the case.

Eventually, people will forget all about it. I wish I dared to hope that this sort of tragedy would never happen again. New Zealand has one of the highest child abuse rates in the developed world. I feel ashamed to say that. It makes me sick to my stomach just thinking about it. When I think of my precious little boy I can’t imagine how anyone could possibly abuse a child. Something has gone seriously wrong in this society and it hurts like heck.

When will it sink in?

23 Jun

Yesterday a friend posted a Facebook status about the high price of her grocery shop this week. Someone posted a reply saying ‘It’s gonna get worse apparently’.

I can’t help but wonder exactly what they are thinking; they and all the other people who complain about the cost of food and fuel and go on living their life the same way they’ve always done. Albeit with more grumbling and probably more debt. Do they not wonder why? Why it is that in the 50’s families could live comfortably off one income, and now it’s a struggle on two? Why food prices get higher and higher on a monthly basis, when wages just aren’t creeping up to match? Is it all attributed to normal inflation?

I want to know when people will realise that there is something more going on. That we aren’t just in a ‘little recession’ and things will go back to normal in a couple of years. That the landfills are filling up and now they’re even building toxic houses on them. That our society is unsustainable and therefore will not be sustained.

When will I stop feeling like the slightly mad one who is given to hippy-ish flights of fancy about the end of the world as we know it? When will everyone else stop feeling a bit ‘put upon’ and realise it’s time to take responsibility? I feel sometimes as if I’m walking round in a bubble, where I can see things with clarity from somewhere else, and yet I can’t escape them. I am doing my best, but it’s not enough. Or am I? I reduce, reuse, recycle. I live in an upstairs flat but I am growing brassicas in the middle of winter in pots on my steps. I am learning how to make things from scratch. I am networking. I am raising a beautiful child with all the goodness and consciousness in me. But at the end of the day, I’m still dependent on my car, the supermarket, and the government benefit that gets paid into my account each week.

‘It’ has sunk in, but I haven’t climbed out yet, to be terribly metaphorical about it all.