On Twitter, Facebook, and Social Networking.
April 19, 2010 § 2 Comments
In the past months I have been drowning in articles and conversations and conventions about the new foray into social media and its advances. Perhaps it’s because I now have a twitter and a blog and Publisher’s Weekly is my homepage on my computer screen that I have been forcibly immersed in this topic, and after stubbornly clinging to the my naive belief that this is all just a passing phase, I have come to realization that social media really is the new way to do things.
Especially since I had a meeting with the career services woman who told me about a social networking website for professionals as a way to network myself into the publishing career field. It’s like facebook for the business world.
And yes, I do tend to cling as stubbornly as ever to the hope that this is all a passing phase, because truth be told I really am tired of all the facebook stalking and hearing the phrase “tweetfaced”. I hate blackberries and iPhones and smart phones and the people that use them who insist on needing to be connected to the web-world constantly or their lives will fall apart. I can’t stand twitter updates that let me know when you’re eating, where you’re eating, what you’re eating, and so on; and I hate it when a phone breaks and you immediately hear the phrase, “I feel so out of touch with the world,” or “I feel naked without my phone.”
I read articles in the newspaper that say, “So-and-so twittered about…” or the news broadcasters announce, “Here is what happened shown to you from a youtube video…” or when people try to create awareness about breast cancer through facebook status updates about the color of your bra. Since when have ordinary people become media socialites or burgeoning journalists counted upon to feed our televison or newspapers the truth about what is happening in society? It’s all very unsettling.
I find myself comparing all this to the disney movie Wall-E, when the people are sitting on those hover craft chairs, all fat from muscular atrophy because they refuse to get up and walk around, looking at only the screen in front of their face even though the person they’re talking to is sitting right next to them. I don’t think the political statements of that movie are really that far off from what the world is now.
I was sitting in church yesterday morning and the video announcements came on the screen. It’s Pastor’s birthday this week and they played a video of him that was posted on facebook by his wife. My aunt turned to my uncle and said, “blah blah blah on facebook blah blah blah” and I immediately realized why twitter, facebook, myspace, and so on are really so important.
We crave community.
The advancing technological world has not suffocated this need but has simply heightened this desire for social connection. Technology has us convinced we can have community through the web, through 140 wordcount tweets, by befriending the sister of a cousin of a friend of an old high school boyfriend. And the more we try to achieve community through technological social networking, the more we miss the whole concept of community and the more we crave it, creating this endless cycle.
And don’t misunderstand, I think it’s cool how you can video conference across states or countries, how you can chat to people in a different time zone or different continent, and how it takes about half a second to get a reply for an email or text message or wall comment. For me, facebook is a much easier and more convenient and faster way to keep in touch with family in other parts of Texas or with college friends in different states. It’s nice to be able to create events instead of send out invitations or to create a group to continually provide informational updates about work or afterschool study groups or so on. But chatting online with my fiance in Boston doesn’t satisfy the longing to see him in person. Tweeting with my old roommate who lives in Virginia isn’t the same as sitting down to lunch and getting a real life personal update on her life.
Yes I have a facebook. Yes I have a twitter. And Yes I obviously have a blog. It’s not using or participating in the forms of networking that is detrimental to yourself, but it’s when you let facebook, twitter, even email, substitute for your real life, real friends, real community.
I’m not sure how much farther technology can advance, but I feel like at some point it’s going to hit its peak, a wall that prevents it from continuing. And should it stumble onto its stagnancy, I wonder what community would look like then.