I was enjoying my read through Jonathan Milligan’s posts at BloggingYourPassion.com. His pages inspired me to leave his page to learn more about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). What I discovered shocked me to the core.
I had been living with the mistaken impression that the more interesting my posts are, the more likely it is that people will notice me. However, I discovered that it’s not so much talented I am at writing for people like me that gets me noticed, but how well we learn to write for the “Robots” that “crawl” through our websites. Thus, a guy who doesn’t know a classic from a literary piece of trash can have millions of hits to his post while mine is totally ignored.
To be at the top of the search page on Google, Bing or whatever, I need to be discovered by the algorithms. By doing so, I am promised the reward of the attention of millions of people and hundreds of dollars.
However, by catering to the robots, I believe that our writing loses some of its humanity. When we write to be noticed by the Robots, we use broad strokes of the paintbrush to write short, catchy phrases that can be seen from the International Space Station. But by doing so, we have painted over the meticulous, tiny scratchings of the pencil of our hearts.
For decades now, for computers to be most useful to us, we have had to learn to speak their language. As we begin our trip, our GPS asks us, “Where to?” (It always says that! It never says it any other way!)
When we press that button, we are presented with four options: Address, Points of Interest, Recently Found and Favorites. But what about the other possibilities, like “Shortcuts with well-maintained dirt roads”, “Fun festivals and events my daughter would love” or “the restaurant with the best lobster in Maine”?
Such answers can only be discovered by sitting down and asking your grandmother or grandfather, the one who doesn’t have an email address.
In our “advanced” world, we find a date on eHarmony if we are lonely. We check on TripAdvisor for just the right restaurant nearby if we have no idea where to take her. And, as we wait for our food, we don’t know what to say, so we play with our iPhone or Galaxy until then.
I am absolutely passionate about this sad reality! In our world, our eyes do so much looking at the HD computer screen and our ears do so much listening to the Bose Bluetooth speakers, we sometimes forget to get off the couch or office chair to touch, smell and taste the world outside.
Through some strange conspiracy, these machines, which were meant to free our lives up so that we had more time for each other, are crowding out our contact with each other. We are so busy catching up with our emails and filling in the database with our personal information that we only have time to post a brief, one hundred and forty character message on Twitter and Facebook to let our friends know that we are still alive.
A few weeks ago, our neighbor’s house burned down in a very tragic way. On Google Maps, the place where the kids the same age as ours ran out of the kitchen and tried (and eventually succeeded) to flag down a passing vehicle for help, is just a spot on the map a few hundred feet from our home. If the silver van of Streetview Google Maps passes by the boarded up house in the next few days, it will take a panoramic photo of the scene in startling color, but will be unable to record the dread we feel every time we pass it by.
In this “connected” world we live in, the greatest tragedy is that we never got to know our neighbors until it was too late.
In our “modern” world, the only places where we can still experience true human contact are the places where we are asked to “turn off our cellphones” as we enter: the church, the synagogue or the mosque.
The predictions of movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Wall-E have come true all too soon: the Robots have taken the power away from the Humans far earlier than expected… but thankfully only from those who allowed them to.
If we’re not careful, a decade or two may pass us before we realize what we have lost while slouching on the couch over an iPhone or tablet.