Sunday, April 19, 2009

Social Network Overload.

I remember Friendster. Shit, I remember Makeoutclub. I assume these are still around in some sad form or another, but whatever. I didn't actually enter the world of Internet social networking until MySpace. Like so many people, I long scoffed at the idea of joining because I wanted to make myself think that I was too cool for school, but eventually I was coaxed in by the idea of seeking out a sort of confrontation loophole where you can communicate via impersonal messages and random comments (very similar to the fine art of texting). You can track people down through the Internet, judge them and form an opinion without ever meeting them. All this based on a few photos and vague, ambiguous personal info comments. Just beautiful. And not to say it wouldn't have happened anyway, but MySpace played some sort of a role in old relationships, both in the initial dating phase and in the "fuck you, this shit's over" phase. See, both are much easier because you don't actually have to confront the person. I find that I'm much more efficient in all secondary forms of human to human contact.

Anyway, within the past year, I've added three different social networking vehicles to my daily life. Is this necessary? One was kind of forced upon me because of work. Hello, Twitter. Don't get me wrong, the idea of Twitter actually appeals to me. The several genius thoughts I have throughout the day can now immediately be reported, in 140 characters or less. To be honest, I use it mainly for work. Journalists and journalism as a whole love Twitter because it gives them the ability to report the news immediately, beating others to the punch. Or, they just continue to regurgitate the same stories over and over until the public is drunk with them and collectively vomits. Makes sense to me. I rarely "tweet" (I don't even know how to express my hatred for that word) outside of work. It's something we were asked to sign up for, and so I did. I mainly keep track of music news (for instance, Pitchfork and Stereogum are at Coachella right now, and it's interesting shit to read their thoughts), sports news, occasionally laugh at my friends' comments, and that's pretty much the extent of it. However, with all social networks, it's a distraction. I admit that every time someone I'm following "tweets," I take the second to check it out, and then maybe I visit the link he or she posted, and then maybe read the article, and you can obviously see where this is going. Do I need the distraction? Don't I have enough to pay attention to without detouring my day of work so I can read a three-page story about some sadly intriguing story about an NYC hipster grifter? I don't know.

Then, there's this blog. I define it as a social network, but I have completely different feelings about it. While I love the comments from random people (hey, it's happened once or twice), this thing is really just a kind of communication with friends. I like doing it, and it allows me to expound on subjects instead of just trying to explain them in 30-word intervals. Plus, it's just good for me as a writer, which I'm not necessarily claiming to be, but in the sense that I'm not trying to pose as anything. It's good for me to develop my own voice because that's really what all this shit is. No editing or revisions. Just shit I find interesting and feel the need and/or desire to spew forth in my own words. Some sort of self-constructed podium for my own amusement. Maybe that doesn't make any sense, but it does to me, so whatever. See how it works?

Finally, this past week I took the Facebook plunge. As Justin can attest, I've stayed away from this thing like rabies. Similar to MySpace, I attempted to display some sort of disdain for Facebook in the thoughts that I was too good for it or something. Why I do this, I will never know. The funny thing is that I've had a fledgling Facebook account since grad school, when it was solely designated for the educated. What a fucking dumb, discriminatory concept. You can only sign up for it if you're in some sort of higher learning institution. Whatever. Anyway, I never did anything with the account, and it just stagnated in the cesspool of social networks. However, within the past year or so (I may be too dense here to really nail down any sort of timeline), Facebook has become the revolution of social networking. The CEO of Sprint mentions it in commercials, parents get on it and embarrass their kids by posting revealing baby pictures, and people I haven't seen since I was a senior in high school track me down and ask me to befriend them. Too weird. I mean, I like the idea of keeping contact with some of my favorite people from the ancient days of high school, but I'm not a fan of some random guy searching out my Facebook to point out some minor error I made in something I wrote for the Reader. Kind of overstepping the bounds yeah? I guess that's one of my main points in this diatribe.

A few years back, my mom set up an invisible fence for her dog Linus. Obviously, when Linus looks around the backyard, he sees a ton of land to roam, and does so accordingly. But he also knows where that invisible fence is because he's been bitten in the ass by it more than once. So, he instinctively stays away. He's been taught that. It's discipline. However, if he's let out the front door without his collar, it's a complete change of environment. The invisible fence no longer applies. He's forgotten about it and runs wild. See where this is going? Where are the boundaries in social networks? Everyone appears too quick to choose the front door and let all inhibitions fly out the window. Given, because I involve myself in several social networks, I may be making a hypocrite of myself by writing some of this. That's fine and dandy. I just think it's important for people to be able to buy tickets to the circus without feeling entitled to confront the trapeze artist after the performance and tell him or her how to swing. With blurred boundaries, there will inevitably be a select few who feel it's always okay to cross.

This thing got long and kind of out of hand, and I probably didn't get to touch on everything I had in mind when I started, but I'll just "tweet" it, post it on my Facebook and MySpace, or blog some more if I happen to remember what I overlooked. Sounds good.

Addendum: Coates noted that I forgot to add my list of the five things I'm listening to. Thanks for the heads up Juggernaut.

These Are Powers - All Aboard Future
Jesus Lizard - Inch (box set of seven-inches)
Various Artists - This LP Crashes Hard Drives
Zombi - Spirit Animal
Cursive - Mama, I'm Swollen


Heidi Lynn Bragg said...

you're clever. that's why we're friends.

Michael Coates said...

Where is your top five current music list inquiring minds need to know.

edwardallen said...

i hate your plunge into the realm of social networking based soley upon the fact that i beilve it is detracting from the amount of useless and entertaining texts we used to share. do you text me less because you'd rather just mass-text (isn't that what twitter is? i have no idea. really) than just talk to me? do i have to get on twitter to trade comments about bill simmons latest article/podcast (the article today about coach interviews was clever), argue the merits of peyton manning, and discuss every latest pro sports trade and story? i'll do it if i have to. i never made a public pledge that i would not, so twitter is available to me.

i hate the "tweet" phrase. wouldn't it be "twit?" this makes no sense to me. i wish i never heard "tweet" and i wish that i didn't have to put it in quotation marks in order that you might know my disdain for the phrase.

in a conversation the other night with my wife and the foscos (yeah, i went there), we discussed twitter, facebook, myspace and technology in general. my conclusion is that every single person does these things because they are voyeuristic or an exhibitionist. i'm an exhibitionist- i could care less about what others are doing. i just want the world to see how clever i am. heidi is a voyeur - she loves to creep others profiles and see what they are doing. so what are you? i'm going to go out on a limb and say that you are an exhibitionist.

i should have written my own blog because this comment is exceptionally long.

if we are to compare social networking sites, is myspace VHS, facebook DVD and friendster laserdisc (or would it be betamax)? what is twitter? these things are important to help me understand what the hell is going on in the world.

edwardallen said...

i'm sorry - i said "could care less" in paragraphy three when i should have said, "couldn't care less."

that was a careless mistake and i am embarrassed.

Heidi Lynn Bragg said...

Aaaand Justin, you spelled believe incorrectly. Kevin, it's "too" cool for school- Glad I'm here to help you guys out!

Mike M. said...

You don't have a Flickr account? Pfft...Might as well be under a cave, man...

Also, I miss you. And this site won't let me "follow" you or anyone else because I'm signed in under a Hotmail account. And the only reason why I'm signed in under a Hotmail account is because it won't let me switch it to a Gmail account. I'd call the situation "Orwellian," except that it doesn't really apply whatsoever.