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COLUMNS

Lost connections

Tim Croft
tcroft@starfl.com

Word to the wise; when one’s computer begins to sound like a Keurig generating a cup of coffee, time to call IT.

Or purchase a new computer.

My computer was carved out by a Category 5 computer-cane last Friday that wiped out everything I had been working on.

There is a server in the office and is it used to provide storage for weeks past, but Monday was literally starting from scratch.

The computer was old, it dates to sometime between the sale of the newspaper by the Ramsey family (2004) and the earliest archives on the server, 2010.

Conservatively, I have far exceeded 5,000 stories crafted upon its keyboard, which I treated horrifically.

I earned a reputation in prior newsrooms for the pain and punishment I inflicted upon computers.

They called me “Taps” for reasons I will leave to the imagination.

My current keyboard has been wiped clean of no fewer than eight letters: they are gone, it I strictly feel and thank heavens for typing class.

So, in fact, it served me well.

In any case, beyond the passwords I had to re-navigate (I use the save password screen a lot), the most critical loss, just as in Michael, were the keepsakes that may or may not be retrievable from my now-deceased hard drive and desktop.

Photos of interviewing folks from a former governor of the state of Florida to Calvin Pryor to the only photo I had of the late Coach Vern Eppinette.

Those are gone, out of my life, as with so many memories of a career.

But I am working on a theory that it was not age or abuse that finally brought my computer down.

My theory focuses on the fact I was posting to The Port St. Joe Star Facebook page at the time of the crash.

I only visit Facebook when forced by the duties of my job and the paper’s page (which I remind complaining readers again and again is the free side of the paper, pay 50 cents, support local jobs), because, to be blunt, I find it the place where American freedom of thought and democracy have gone to die.

Want to find where our partisan divide resides, just spend a few minutes on your Facebook news feed and prepare.

To be depressed, to wonder what has happened to people and their frame of reference, to walk away feeling the need for a long, hot shower.

Last week, while attempting to post on The Star page, I was alerted to a dialogue in comments on a story on the Apalachicola Times page about an issue.

I can’t even remember the issue, per se, other than it was about local government, but what spewed forth was noxious and far removed from constructive debate.

Check that, in many cases the dialogue began constructively only to turn to bomb throwing once those on one side realized they would not be able to convince those on the other.

Every personal insult, from mom’s choice of footwear to membership in some made-up organization, replaced sensible comments.

Now, I realize that Facebook has come in handy for many in lockdown mode during this pandemic, which in itself is part of the issue.

But when we the people can not entertain a decent conservation on any subject, choose one, for any period of time without resorting to name calling and shaming others for their views, what have we become?

Congress?

A glance on Facebook, and if you, dear reader, can stomach more, power to you, provides the microcosm of what governing in Washington, D.C. has become.

All the partisanship, all the venom, all the ignorance of what is happening in the world beyond, all the racism, stands loud and proud on Facebook.

There are all sorts of reasons that social media was invented and the ability to report and digest news is ramping up to incredible speeds.

And, there are certainly many valuable bedrocks of free speech and expression at the heart of the existence of Twitter or Facebook or Instagram.

All that aside, however, social media has also replaced the basic human conversation and dialogue required to address the vast array of issues we face today.

A pandemic, a teetering economy, vast racial divides, a planet, the only one we will ever have, in peril.

Social media is not the arena for answers to any of those issues.

They are only going to be found in hearts and souls and by reaching out and working together.

They will be tough solves and the result of inaction will be passing all this down to future generations; parents look your child in the eye when you tell them this generation can’t do it.

But, on the other hand, the sooner those generations come to understand that the answers aren’t found on social media, but in personal interaction, the better for all.