Cyber Leashes

What’s up fam,

My friend Dumi was inspired by my friendship series to help us expand the discussion beyond Black men to talk about how friendship is undermined by what he describes as “Cyber Leashes.” I couldn’t agree with him more and as life becomes increasingly hectic and complex, we must always remember to get back to basics.

Dumi is the author of the critically acclaimed, Black at Michigan blog and I encourage you to check it out.


Cyber Leashes

I know you’ve seen them. In fact you’re likely in close proximity to one or multiple of them at this very moment. Some call them smart phones, blackberries, treos, sidekicks, whatever you call it, it’s likely too damn big and still attached to your hip or ear (if it’s not on your ear you’re probably wearing your Spock ear piece). Now I admit, I’m an addict, I’m addicted to my phone, I’m addicted to my Bluetooth headset, I’m addicted to the ability to check email, but I’m really not sure why.

I know that you’ve probably read the numerous articles that cite Americans are over exposed to work and under exposed to leisure, but I can’t help but notice we have almost all subscribed to the cyber leashes of technology. I remember the first time I saw a blackberry it was years ago and my aunt who worked for the Pentagon had one, I remember thinking, “I’ll never get one of those, it just means you can always be answering people” fast forward six years or so and I’m gleefully checking my email while sipping an overpriced latte. So you may ask, “Why are you so concerned with the idea that many have opted for access to information all the time at the fingertips?” The simple answer is if you’re like me, nine times out of ten, you’re not getting things that will improve your life, liberate our people, or are even necessary. You’re just checking email to check it, just visiting that blog to see if somebody in cyberspace responded to your last comment, trying to see if that email giving you more work that will make someone else rich has come across, or you’re just plain bored. That’s right, I said it, Americans are bored and we’ve opted for cyber leashes to compensate.

My brother Brandon has been breaking down the connections between friendships and Black men, but I think it goes well beyond just that group. Let’s be real, how many myspace, friendster, orkut, facebook, dodgeball, etc. associates do you have? Now how many of them do you talk to? It’s much easier to pretend to interact with them via the occasional message and seeing who else they’re talking to then talking to them and finding out what is really going on in their life. Just like it’s easier to wade through spam on my treo than work on my damn dissertation. We as a people have become bored in part because we’re too accessible but also in part because we’re easily distracted. We have enabled this boredom with technology.

For months I’ve been thinking about our obsessions with technology. Thinking what life was like before the cell phone and the internet, and it’s getting really hard to remember! As we step forward into the digital age and get more and more access to the world at our fingertips I only hope we don’t leave behind what “makes the world go round” … people. Next time you grab your hip to check that text message, to look up that movie time, to just look at your phone cause you’re deathly bored, think about doing something that is going to better the condition of the folks around you, just not fatten the pockets of cell phone companies.



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