Archive for the ‘Facebook’ Category

The Devil is in the Computer: Technology and the Generational Divide

Friday, September 25th, 2009

A couple of weeks back a discussion popped up on a natural hair board I belong to about why young nappies dominate the hair board and why hardly any mature nappies blog about  caring for natural hair in your forties and beyond. (No comments please about my use of the “n” word. “Nappy” is a  term of endearment there on the hair board.) Several of us over forty-five types concluded that the reason younguns’ dominate the hair board is because black women our age and older are largely distrustful of the Internet. My contemporaries use the net largely for email, but that’s about it.

“A woman I know lost her husband to Facebook,” someone stood up and said at a women clergy conference I attended this week. “An old high school girlfriend of his found him on Facebook and he left his wife for the old girlfriend.” Our worst suspicions were confirmed.  “Jeeezus,” some one cried out. “Hmmmmph, hmmmph, hmmmph” said another. That does it: The devil is in the computer. Facebook. Identity Theft. Spam. Twitter. Yep, Satan is behind it all.

Many of my favorite bookmarked blogs are by black women bloggers in their 20s and 30s (e.g., opinion blogs, self-help blogs, inspirational blogs, how-to blogs, craft blogs). This generation has never met a hunch, idea, opinion, suspicion or fantasy they didn’t think deserved airing.

It seems that black women my age seem to be content with being information consumers rather than  information producers.

I’m willing to guess that the vast majority of the women who leave comments on this blog are younger women, women under forty. Plenty of women over forty visit my blog (I know because they tell me they do when I meet them); but it’s mostly young ones who jump into the cyber dialogue and weigh-in in the comments sections

black girls and computers

I should be hurt but I’m not. I know they love me. But virtually none of my friends who are my age read my blog. Yeah, I’m putting y’all on blast. (Of course, they may feel they don’t need to read my blog since I go on and on all the time about whatever opinion I hold. Forgive me.) Most of them have a Facebook page, but they use it to announce where they will be speaking and teaching next. Yet, they are all fierce, thinking women who have high profile positions or who head major organizations.

Here’s the deal: my contemporaries don’t have the time to spend time online. At least that’s what they claim. They don’t have time to blog or to learn how get their information and opinions out on the web. But time isn’t the only reason. My contemporaries feel clumsy around technology. We’re frightened by technology. The world wide web sounds too vast to fathom. We are from the generation of girls who shied away from science and technology. Dissecting frogs. “Eeeewww.” Mixing compounds. “Don’t let that stuff get on my outfit.” Dissassembling things to see how they worked. Boring. Assembling parts to improve their function. “My nail!” There were no summer programs back then for colored high school girls to spark our interest in engineering and science.

Tell me: How many black female IT people do you know? When you need help with some computer problem, how likely are you to call a black woman your know (over 40) to talk you through how to fix your computer problem? I thought not.

Let me be clear: I don’t mean to suggest that black women, even older ones, are anti-technology or anti-gadgets  It’s not like we use carrier pigeons to send messages. We love our cell phones. We enjoy our iPods. We can’t live without our microwaves. We pride ourselves on having the latest hair curling contraption. But computers are another thing. Solitaire and email. That’s it. Using the comments section to air our protest? Social networking? Keeping up with celebrities every move? We prefer real time and real friendships. We’re old fashioned like that, I suppose.

“Silver hair tekkie” is how a young nappy former student of mine refers to me. That’s because I seem always to be one step ahead of her in gadgetry and was for a long time always pushing her to up her technology game. IM me. Skype me. Snap the photo and text it to me. Sign in and give me permission to have remote access to your computer. Your computer is too slow. Why is it that I have a blog and you don’t, and I’m thirty years older than you.? Get off my blog, and get a blog of your own.  When the cable technician comes to the house to program the television or to get us back online, my husband calls me into the room to decipher the technician’s directions.

I’m far from being a tech geek; I know just enough to keep me from having to be a slave to real computer geeks. I am a life long student of technology because I have had to be. I hate depending upon other people to do things for me I want done yesterday. But I must admit: being the the computer savvy old woman that I am means that I spend a lot of my time  on the computer in conversation with women half my age. That’s not a bad thing. Except on occasion. Like when I shoot back with a response like “jive turkey” or talk about doing the “kool jerk” and I get one of those emoticons back that say makes clear that the person on the other line is clueless as to my meaning. Talk about a generational divide.

What about the rest of you? Do you agree there’s a generational divide among us black women when it comes to technology?  How tech savvy is your mother? How tech savvy are you? Why aren’t black women over 45 better represented in cyberspace? Why don’t black women use the Internet more to promote their work and/or to help shape public opinion? What do you think?

The Breasted One

Monday, November 5th, 2007

Just when I was about to congratulate myself after six months of blogging for raising questions here that prove I don’t mind bucking church authority and poking holes in religious orthodoxy, along comes a topic that makes me question whether I’m really as iconoclastic as my press statement reads.

Breastfeeding during the worship service. Gulp.

Female metaphors for imaging God. Yes. Gender equality. Absolutely. Debunk female surbordination and submission. A must. Stop funding sexually degrading images of black women in the media. Where do I sign up? Speak out and stand up against violence against women. You go, girl. A woman for president. Got my vote.

Breastfeeding during the worship service. Gulp.

At a black church this past Sunday an usher went over and explained to a young mother with a baby at her breast that breastfeeding wasn’t allowed during worship service. The usher politely offered to show the mother to a quiet room in the church where she could nurse her baby in privacy. The embarrassed mother gathered her things and followed the usher with a squalling baby in arm to a room on the other side of the church where she was alone with her nursing infant. By the time the baby was done nursing, the sermon was over and it was offering time.

Now I know what some of you are asking: was her breast exposed? Yep. Was she sitting at the front or the back of the church? Does it matter? Oh well, in the middle, at the end of the pew, I’m told. What did other mothers say? Who do you think instructed the usher to go over to the young mother? One of the women on the Mother Board, of course. Chuckle. Try telling Mother So-and-So that one of the several meanings of the divine name El Shaddai is “The Breasted One” (it really is, y’all), and she’s likely to hit you over the head with her Sunday purse. Doesn’t matter. Pulling out your breast in church is a shame before God. It’s certainly a shame before Mother So-and-So.

Many of you know about the big brouhaha that erupted a couple of months back when Facebook began taking down (and later banning) pictures of women breastfeeding their children from Facebook webpages. Facebook claimed that such imagery is “obscene content.” Now listen up, women posting pictures on their website of their babies sucking on their boobs may strike even me as a tad yucky and maybe even a bit obnoxious, but nothing about it, in my opinion, is obscene. I should remind you that the reason God made breasts was so that babies could be fed. Of course, you wouldn’t know that now. Janet Jackson’s Superbowl wardrobe malfunction reminded us that while we may have come a long way as women, the female breast continues to have enormous cultural significance. There are all kinds of breasts to reckon with these days: there’s the sacred breast, the erotic breast, the domestic breast, the political breast, the commercialized breast and even the medical breast. Believe me when I tell you: the history of the breast is riveting.

I am convinced of the importance of breastfeeding and am proud to say that I nursed my daughter when she was a baby. But I admit to having gone out and bought three or four of those shapeless nursing mother dresses that allowed me to unbuckle a flap and slide my suckling daughter underneath without exposing my breast to those around me. Reading the mommy blogs that are so popular these days and learning about the not-so-quiet revolution going on these days over the rights of mothers to breastfeed in the open, I wonder if I’m as broad-minded as I pretend to be. While I fancy myself a sex-positive feminist/womanist who believes that sexual freedom is an important step to women’s freedom, I’m not one for flashing body parts. Never have been. My young student friends will tell you that I stay on their cases about their cleavage-baring tops and low riding jeans. All of which is to say that even if I could have, I don’t know if I would have openly breastfed my daughter back when I was a nursing mother. Especially not in church. I lacked the courage and self-confidence.

And now that I’m older and have the courage and the self-confidence, the milk is gone.

So, what say the rest of you about breastfeeding in public, in particular at church?