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A steady diet of junk powered by chips creating an unhealthy world
Dennis Wyatt RGB
Dennis Wyatt

If a teen was spending 5 hours during the day gorging on potato chips the odds are a parent would flip out.

After all Michael Bloomberg can tell you junk food is the root of all evil.

No self-respecting adult that calls themselves a parent in the 21st century would allow a kid or teen to interface that much with Granny Goose, Lays, Ruffles, and Pringles. It would make you the pariah of the neighborhood.

But many parents are enabling their children to fill themselves with empty calories, bloating their very being with harmful morsels with no nutritional value that renders them lethargic and subject to whims of unsocial behavior, anger, anxiety, and vanity while poisoning their potential.

It is why people most of us would view as successful, brilliant, trailblazers and smarter beyond smart have banned chips from the dinner table and limited their consumption despite the peer pressure and societal expectations thrust upon their kids in today’s world.

Folks like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs limited their children’s chip consumption. The rest of the world would be wise to follow their lead.

The chips Jobs, Gates, and other giants of the tech world often limit their children from consuming aren’t the addictive type that will clog their arteries and fatten their bodies. They’re the ones that clog their souls and turn their brains to fat. The chips aren’t made from potatoes but from silicon.

You’ve heard it all before. The Pew Research Institute studies that show 24 percent of teens view social media mostly negatively along with 45 percent that view it as tofu — either good or bad. That’s 69 percent of the heaviest users of social media brought to us courteous of silicon chips that view it as being less than ideal.

Before anyone over 30 gets too smug, many of us — including adults old enough to have teen children and even teen grandchildren — spend upwards of five hours a day with smartphones. Broken down researchers indicate that is roughly 2,000 swipes, taps, and touches a day on smartphones.

To say devices such as smartphones are addictive is an understatement on par with saying a meth user that has rotted out their teeth and has been reduced to skin and bones may have a little problem.

I’m not exactly a Luddite. But I do find it ironic that likes of Michael Bloomberg that lectures Americans nonstop about junk food destroying their physical health barely utter a peep about how we are devouring junk courtesy of smartphones that is endangering mental health.

Mark McCue — the gentleman that prompted the comparison of smartphones et all to potato chips in terms of how it has enabled social media to become so invasive in our lives — is the founder of Flipboard.

During a 2017 interview on the podcast dubbed “Recode Decode’ McCue joined the likes of Gates and Jobs to sound the alarm about the danger of being consumed by social media when it is not used in moderation.

“It’s like if you ate potato chips all day long,’ McCue said. “You have to have a balanced information diet. There’s nothing wrong with looking at Facebook. If that’s all you do then you’re just going to a product of that.”

That’s an observation that is true of anything.

The advent of smartphones and their proliferation to the point they are virtually in the hands of more and more people non-stop has made social media invasive to the point it colors everything we do.

The internet — and social media by extension — is a mirror of the world. That can be a good thing as it affords us the opportunity to explore things that are foreign or unknown such as views that may differ from ours.

Unfortunately it has put things like cliques, bullying, bigotry, racism, hatred, and taunting on steroids.

Unlike the clique you may hang out with at school or work before the world heard of Facebook, social media and the algorithms the 21st century of Madison Avenue Mad Men has created to hook consumers on products via advertising, people who think alike are being lulled into not exploring the Internet on their own. Socializing via platforms have made billionaires out of people like Mark Zuckerberg by directing you by algorithms to people just like you in terms of interests and views so they can sell a targeted group up to advertisers.

For centuries, rarely did mankind wander more than a few miles from where they were born.

Technology changed that. The Industrial Revolution made it possible for people to do more than just survive. The much maligned internal combustion engine fueled by carbon-based fuels made movements of the masses possible on a grand scale.

Seeing the world — literally — was a way one could expand their horizons, explore things they never dreamed of, provide you with context, and enjoy the perspective of different cultures, people, and views.

The internet was seen as a way you could explore the world from a simple device.

Unfortunately it has turned into a rabbit hole of sorts. Many find other like thinking people and their wall their experiences and minds off to others that are different. Others get so absorbed in the World Wide Web that they eschew many real world experiences.

There is a reason why meeting new people in the real world can be so cumbersome and create anxieties. It’s because you are dealing with the unknown. Algorithms take away a lot of the anxiety because they match you with someone that you share common ground.

Granted that is how a lot of in-person relationships start. The big difference is there is little investment of risk from tapping digits and letters on a screen. Without subjecting yourself to risk you not only stay in the comfort of the cocoon of opinions as well of likes and dislikes you’ve adopted, but you shut out those views, lifestyles, and people that are foreign to you.

Is anyone really surprised that the ruthless level of non-stop civil discourse we are experiencing today has ramped up in parallel fashion with how intrusive social media has become from the moment we rise to the point our bleary eyes can no longer stay awake as we take our tech equivalent of a baby blanket to bed with us?

Social media did not create the seven deadly sins of pride, greed, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth. But its intrusiveness courtesy of smartphones and how it has been harnessed to make the likes of Mark Zuckerberg billionaires has turned many of us into the living equivalent of mindless zombies that are laser focused on destroying those that aren’t like them.

It is exactly what Jobs feared would happen to his children if he allowed them growing up to have iPhones and iPads. It is why Gates refused to give his kids smartphones until they were 14 when all of their peers had them by age 10.

Jobs and Gates were acutely aware of how addictive the devices they created can be and how they could lure us from building and benefiting from meaningful relationships. It is why they banned smartphones at the dinner table and required devices to be turned off long before bed time.

It takes a bit of effort to make sure a child has a nutritious diet for both physical and mental health.

People who would never dream of sitting a 10-year-old kid down with a family size bag of BBQ potato chips and let them devour it at will have no problem putting a smartphone in their hands.

This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Ceres Courier or 209 Multimedia Corporation.