Friday, May 09, 2014

Social Distortion

"It's important for people to talk and get beyond the wall of Facebook and social media"
Billy Corgan
It's a brave new world kids. For better or worse life has changed irrevocably since the simpler days of my childhood, my 20's and even much of my 30's. It can be summed up in 2 simple words- Social Media! Two simple words strung together that bring with them mixed feelings and many ironies. Like the fact that "social" media invites anti-social behavior towards real life, face-to-face situations. Or that social media has made the world oh so much smaller yet infinitely less, well, social. And believe me the irony that I'm writing a blog, a kind of social media in itself, and posting links to social media is not lost on me. It's a "good with the bad" type of thing. Like most things we enjoy, a modicum of moderation is usually the healthiest option. Having said all that I've found that socializing about social media can lead to socially awkward situations

1) Trying to decipher the word "friend" used in conversation! Someone mentions something a friend said. So is this a high school friend? Work friend? Or a Facebook friend?? I've written more then one rant about use of the term "friend" in social media settings and my distaste for it. For me there has to be more of a connection then wall postings to qualify as a friend. I'm proud to say that 95% of my Facebook friends I've  met face to face or at least spoken to on the phone so they actually do qualify as friends. Oh, and the term "follower" is just way too arrogant

2) Talking about what you posted/Tweeted etc- I'm not a Twitter guy but I hear a lot of the younger kids I work with talking to each other about what they Tweeted/Re-Tweeted etc. Something  about this is bizarro world to me plain and simple. Not, say, talking about the Bruins game last night directly but talking about what either they or someone else Tweeted about the game! Again, bizarro world

3) Social Media and lazy journalism- This is more a general observation then a social thing but something about national, "legit" media quoting famous folks Tweets and posts seems pretty rinky dink to me. If I wanted to know what these folks were saying on social media I'd follow them and find out for myself

4) That awkward moment when meet up with someone you have "conversations" with on social media and realize that's all you have to talk about- If you're on Facebook or Twitter you've likely experienced this. You have an acquaintance that reads and comments on all your posts. You share the same sense of humor and views on life. Then you see them in a real world setting and its just...weird. The sense of familiarity goes out the window and awkwardness ensues...

5) The perceived importance of sharing what social media folks are saying about where you are/what you're doing with the folks that are actually there with you- This goes back to my old irritation of a group of people out together all on their cell phones talking to people who aren't there. Now days it's more a group (or parts of a group) "checking in" or updating their status or posing pics and then telling everyone else what everyone else was posting about them being there. It's...Just...Mind Boggling!!

I enjoy social media for what it is. I've been part of it longer then most starting with AIM/Yahoo chats and then Myspace long before most (and I actually met cool, new people in both situations). I was on Twitter long before most people knew about it but had as little use for it then as I do now. I really like Instagram and Facebook is my comfort zone. Facebook allows me to keep up with real life friends I just don't get to see that much anymore and for that alone I'm grateful for social media. I'm also grateful its given me a voice to express myself beyond the folks I see every day (for better or worse). Heck I'm even grateful it's created a whole new genre of jobs which didn't exist pre-social media (and for those folks, including one of my best friends in the world, I let a lot of the above issues slide as they are just doing their job (well, as long as it's job related)). But like with all things there is a limitation to how much is too much.

I can see society slowly sliding into a nightmarish sci-fi vision where we no longer need face-to-face relationships anymore and will rely solely on electronic communication. I'm hoping this is long after I'm pushing up daisies! As much as I love social media it should be used more to set up actual real life meet up with real life laughs and real life hugs and not just LOL's and XOXO's. It's time to get our noses out of our phones, look our friends  in the eyes and enjoy the company of the ones with us, not the ones riding the information highway of life

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