“Followers?” I thought. Weren’t disciples and prophets, like Jesus Christ, the only ones who get followers? But, then, a friend from high school who I wanted to follow sent me an invitation. So, I signed up for Twitter. I tweeted over 250 times, I followed up to 100, and about 100 followed me. The thing is, I only knew about 10 of those Twitter-ites. The rest were either in my region or linked somehow from things I was interested in, as that was the only point I could really find for Twitter – a type of RSS feed for my interests. So, what? I have one more way to keep track of my interests, but it felt like some strange popularity contest, only I didn’t know the other contestants. So, I deleted my Twitter account. And, what I am finding is that social networking, facebook, MySpace, Twitter and all the rest, are just empty ways in which we try vainly to have intimate connections.
We’ve all heard it before, the bigger the city the more it is filled with lonely people. I think social network(ing) is a symptom of that loneliness. Sure, we can use it to follow our interests – but what does that say when we converse, regularly, with people we’ve never met and maybe never intend on meeting? Are we really just avoiding actual relationships?
I’ve chatted and played on-line games since before 1996. Our on-line worlds have changed a lot since simple bulletins and text-based games, but the concepts, the reactions, seem to remain the same. Instead of giving someone a link to see your personal (Geocities via Yahoo) website, we now have facebook pages to share photos and interests. Every once in a while, you encounter the invitation to meet the person with whom you’ve been conversing – the invitation to meet in person. A live, real, meeting. What happens next? Does it happen? Or, does it fall through? It doesn’t seem to matter if you’ve never met the person before or if it is a long-lost meeting of maybe someone you went to high school with. Many times it falls though, and I think that’s because we don’t really want to ruin the magic that’s created when you have these on-line conversations.
We show a small snippet of who we are, often we can be braver and bolder when no one is there to see us face to face. When that invitation comes – you then have to face the reality of an in-person meeting, and confront those reasons you didn’t have them to begin with. So, again, it doesn’t matter if we’ve never met the person of if we haven’t seen them in a long time. We create this idea of who we’d like the other to be, and we don’t want to ruin that with an actual, in-person, intimate meeting. Which brings me back to the thought I had: Social networking is an empty replacement for real, intimate connections.
Let’s ponder that while I think of a follow up.
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