Friday, January 25, 2013

mea culpa I guess

Let push come to shove, I guess I should tone down my growly objections to such 'social media' as Facebook and Twitter.

I'm as big a fan as the next person of gizmos and gadgets and the wonders they are capable of. With three kids, for example, a dishwasher is a marvel beyond price in my book. But one good thing about the dishwasher: It actually washes dishes.

What I object to with Facebook and Twitter is not so much the marvelous magic of almost instantaneous communication -- that's pretty wow. What I object to, based on the amount of time my kids (and I imagine others) spend employing this magic, is the apparent belief that such 'social media' create social connections ... that because messages are friendly, the user has therefore cemented a friendship.

Friendship is real roast beef. Social media strike me, at best, as pureed spinach... healthy enough, but baby food whose nourishment is unlikely to stand the test of time. To believe that friendship is what appears in 141 characters on a screen is (in my mind) to be cruisin' for a bruisin'... something that leaves the believer bereft and hungry in the end.

Well, my presumptions are either valid or they are not. And perhaps there is some middle ground that I am unable or unwilling to concede in my growly objections.

Probably the best way to find out why it is inadvisable to stick your finger in a light socket is to do so. But my opinion and a couple of bucks will get you a bus ride.

As American humorist Will Rogers put it:
There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.
 When it comes to Facebook and Twitter, I'm just sitting here peeing on the electric fence, perhaps.


  1. I think you may be assuming that the means by which we enter into social relationships has to remain static. I'd imagine there were a number of people who thought the same about the telephone. "By gum, how can you have a conversation with someone when you can't see their face!"

    Not to get all new-agey, but perhaps the entirety of the way we communicate is changing along with the technology. Our brains are not static and I have to wonder whether there is any one "right" way to have a personal relationship. Consider the car. It completely changed the size of our social networks and just about everything else. The way we think about time and distance is completely different from how these concepts were envisioned 100 years ago. Here in 2013, not too many people spend too much time thinking about the massive social change that came along with the automobile. The car has been absorbed into our social consciousness.

    I suspect social media will similarly be internalized at some point to the point where it will no longer seem quite as alienating as some folks find it at the moment.

    Personally, I've always thought of social media as more resembling Indra's net than pureed spinach, but to each his own. ;-)

  2. A blog is a social medium as well. If you didn't have a blog, I wouldn't know you existed, and I wouldn't have the chance to read your thoughts and impressions. I don't, however, think that reading your blog is the same as knowing you. We give away a lot about ourselves when we meet in person that is not conveyed through writing. Even if you reply to this, it would not take the place of meeting over coffee and stovetop brownies.