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Audrey Coatesworth

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I like gadgets and progress, but ...
By Audrey Coatesworth
Last edited: Sunday, May 31, 2015
Posted: Sunday, May 31, 2015

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Recent articles by
Audrey Coatesworth

• Liberation or bondage
• A few thoughts on Christmas
• Elderly Surfers
• A few reflections for the New Year 2014
• Something is 'not quite right'
• Why are our children and teenagers not protected
• Freedom from Facebook?
           >> View all 40
I like gadgets and progress, but there are downsides that people are ignoring.

I like gadgets and progress, but …..


I have always liked gadgets – anything that can help my progress through life, be - it help with household jobs, cooking and such like, when younger and, with the advance in IT, I have computers, iPads, mobile wifi – you name it. My first mobile phone was the size of a brick and my first computer didn’t have a hard drive and the ‘system’ was on a disc. That love continues to this day, despite being 77 years of age.  I recently got a serger (an overlocking machine) to assist my dressmaking, which is brilliant. Why did I never realise, years ago, that such a machine existed for home sewing?


For me advancing age is merely a new experience. Coping with prolonged and severe illness has been very difficult but can strengthen one’s resolve and increases knowledge of coping skills and awareness of inner resources. Through it’s physical limitations and having been unable to participate in my life as I had always known, having time to explore new skills has been a bonus.


Being self-taught regarding IT and computers, I have to learn as I progress, but this leaves gaps in fundamental knowledge, unlike if taught by a teacher or organised syllabus. When I wanted to make my own websites, I researched on the Internet and found Later, it took me a few months to understand how to make my first eBook, mainly because what I researched would be interspersed with jargon words that I didn’t understand. But, eventually the process became ‘part of my store of ability’. It is said that everything is easy, once you understand’, and, on the whole, there is much truth in that.


I could write some of this as a ‘blog’, but I have no idea where it would go or how anyone finds blogs! I understand the concept, but I don’t think I have ever visited anyone’s ‘blog’ nor would know where to find one via the search engines. I write ‘blogs’ on my Authorsden blog page, but is that where they remain? I suppose people have to visit specific blog pages to find blogs, but how do they know where these pages are?


I have a wary concern regarding social media and have justification for my concern. Why? On a personal level, I had a Facebook page – someone told me I should have one so that I could have a business page to advertise my books. After all, if going down the road of self -publishing, what was the point of writing if no one knew the books were there – however therapeutic or interesting they were? So, I joined Facebook for a short while. I put the necessary restraints on for personal information etc. and I was thrilled to think that people could/might tell others about my books via this medium.


That belief and enthusiasm lasted a few months until one day a ‘nasty video’ came onto the page and I had no idea who sent it or from where or how it came.  I was never hooked onto looking at Facebook every day or even every week, so was very concerned that someone I knew, e.g. a ‘Facebook friend’ and someone who trusted me might have seen it. I didn’t open it to watch it, there was no need – the first second was enough!


I was horrified and so deleted my Facebook page immediately – I say, immediately! I tried immediately, but it took perseverance and searching the Internet to find out how to completely delete my page and remove myself from Facebook. I got several subsequent emails from Facebook asking if I wanted to restart my page and that I could still log-in as the page, though hidden, was not going to be deleted for 14 days! I felt that  ‘holding on to someone’ was quite wrong when I had actually done my part in the deletion process.


In this time of social media, if deleting my Facebook page means that spreading the news of my books is delayed, then that is preferable to having my page erroneously linked to such a depraved mind as someone who could make or send such horror.


No, until the world is a better place, or has a seismic shift, then I shall not create a Facebook page again and hope others do not have my experience. I read of children being bullied via social media contacts on their iPods, iPads, and mobile phones. I read of sexting – which deviant minds thought up that one? I hear of teenagers being groomed by predators and I hear of old people being conned out of life’s savings. I read of teenagers egging each other on to take excessive Paracetamol tablets or do other dangerous activities. World leaders have been known to take ‘selfies’, even at a memorial service. Why? Everyone knows them and knew they were there, TV was watching, photographers abounded – what more did they need?


The Internet started out as a potential source of amazing information and, at its onset, no normal thinking person could have imagined that it would be used in evil ways.


How does Twitter get passed around, so that unknown people’s videos can become ‘viral’ in a very short time? Who is searching? Who finds these items to spread them around, and to whom? Even politicians resort to giving information via Tweets, which could be seen as discriminatory for those, like me, who do not understand or use Tweets – and for many OAPs who do not even use the Internet or have mobile phones. Yet another way that many old people are being marginalised.


As a retired psychiatrist, the addiction to the virtual world of so many people, and in particular the young, is the most worrying aspect of all.  Many live with a mobile phone apparently glued to their hands or ears, missing the actual reality of chatting to those who are by their side. In other words, ‘they are more interesting to me than you are’ – unless ‘you are communicating with me via your mobile phone’. Slowly a virtual state is developing, like a black fungus spreading over and hiding ‘here and now’ reality.


The other day I read of some boys attending a football match - one of the top games of the season at one of the top clubs. But, instead of sitting watching the match, they spent the afternoon playing and watching ‘virtual’ games of football on screens, watched ‘as if they were attending the match’, but in a room at the club. So, they preferred the virtual game to the real game. Unbelievable, but it shows the way that many children and teenagers are being gradually taken over by the addictive qualities of this kind of technology and moving into virtual experiences.


But, again, who lets them do this? Who took the youngsters to the match and then let them go into the virtual environment? Parents. Even very young children are being given iPads to play with instead of toys and become addicted.  Who gives them the iPad? Parents.


I will not write now about the duties of parents, how children and teenagers need parental time spent with them; that nurturing, that should start at birth and continue into the teenage years; that caring is the duty of the parents rather than handing children over first to nursery staff and eventually to social media.


The problem is that change can be subtle and accepted before the consequences are fully realised.  Before long, it may be too late, as skills, awareness and direct contact and communication are lost. If women and men do not want to use the allotted time for ‘parenting’ their children and teenagers, ‘parenting skills’ will be lost, and then I would say ‘heaven help society’.

Audrey Coatesworth 1.6.15





Web Site 'Topics' by a retired psychiatrist

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Reviewed by Ronald Hull
You and I share some of the same concerns about gadgets and progress. Like you, I am very interested in computing and have largely self-taught myself many things including learning how to do an object-oriented database, build my own website, make my own movies, and self publish to a certain extent.

Blogs or bio logs seem to be the new journalism on the home front. There are many easy sources for doing a blog (like AD), but anyone can make their own website into one. I find most blogs to be too self-centered (actually, most Facebook pages are simply blogs, as are Twitter accounts. As for finding anything on the Internet, search engines find webpages by the words on the pages and keywords. If any page of yours, whether the blog or otherwise has words on it that are searched, a keyword search will find it. Most blogs aren't worth finding.

You are right about Facebook. I have been "required" to join many social networks. The only two that I belong to right now is AD and another defunct one that I never go to. My feeling is that many people who feel challenged about opening a website turn to something easy like Facebook as their "web presence."

The current flurry over Facebook, Twitter,… etc. is primarily a fad and will probably diminish over time. Unfortunately, too many people display their vulnerabilities on the web and therefore come under attack by unscrupulous people who enjoy torturing others with words. I find it easy to put most of these bullies down.

I often quote that Socrates thought that the youth of his day were going to hell when actually they probably did decline enough to be conquered by the Romans very easily. The youth of today do spend an inordinate amount of time associated with their devices and not interacting appropriately with others. But somehow, well-balanced individuals seem to reach adulthood and face our most severe problems with great skill and courage.

But, as the psychiatrist, you have seen these problems more closely than I.

Reviewed by P. G. Shriver
Interesting article. You make some valid points about technology, some I've thought about many times. I am a gadget person, also, and taught myself all the new tech and software, like you. Technology does have its place. I often wonder what would happen, though, to the younger generation and business world if somehow the entire "online" experience were taken away. People would not know how to communicate with each other, find each other, travel to a location. As an educator, I see this happening throughout society. Many will be lost and not know how to live.

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