I am sitting in my office mesmerised by the gadgets that were unveiled at this years Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2014. From mini drones to the latest in wearable tech, Christmas 2014 is going to be even more gadgetastic than 2013 was. And what a Christmas it has been.
In the run up to the big day our broadband at home went down. We had an intermittent fault on the line, which meant that our connection, was mostly down, but would suddenly lurch into life for a few precious moments. There was panic in the household... I have never seen my family looking so concerned before.
Every few seconds, someone would try to reach Facebook, or send a Snapchat. Most of the time to no avail. But every now and then there would be a shout of "it's up", followed by a flurry of furious activity. Then it would drop again - followed by silence and pensive glancing at devices. I guess to many this would indicate a problem: an addiction. To me, it illustrates the way life is now. We live in a device / digitally rich world and we all want to be connected, all the time. Our basic human need for community and connection amplified through phones and tablets.
Anyway, we headed West for our Christmas break. Lots of (re)assurance that there was a WiFi connection in the house we were staying in. Sure enough at arrival, before bags were unloaded from the car, devices had been connected to WiFi and everybody could relax.
I thought it is worth cataloguing a few things that I observed over the Christmas break. There is plenty of debate about which platform is going to dominate and the death of Facebook, blah, blah, blah.
My view... Facebook is for the mums and dads of this world. The power Facebook user in our family is not the children, but my Wife. She spent Christmas looking at updates from others, and generally feeling inadequate as our Christmas wasn't quite so spectacular and perfect as everybody else's seemed to be - and they had power cuts to deal with. She seemed to find herself in endless rounds of comments and re-comments and conversations that seem to grow exponentially. Facebook hooks you in and once you're hooked in, it can be difficult to find your way out.
My daughter - the one who is old enough for Facebook, uses it as a means to publish latest picture and profile updates and garner likes, that's it. Contrary to what some would have us believe: she is okay with my wife being a 'friend', though Facebook sits fairly low-down her social media pecking order. When there is Facebooking between them, there are strict rules - my wife is not allowed to like a picture until 30 others have liked it. And definitely no comments. ever. My daughter spreads her social load across a multitude of platforms. Favourites are of course Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp and Skype. Not Twitter. Twitter is for old people. Apparently. Days over Christmas were spent pulling faces, shooting videos and taking photos.
If you are middle aged, no matter how digital you are: your kids are much more popular than you can imagine. One of the games we played was on Instagram. I challenged my daughter to see who could get the most likes most quickly. Using my guile and a few well-chosen # tags, I quickly got to 31... Amazing. My daughter stopped counting after 50.