Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Antiquated, Not Twitterpated


I believe that cyber relationships are real. They can be substantive and satisfying; sometimes even more so than those with people in our real lives. I would never scoff at someone who described a cyber acquaintance as a "friend".

I myself have a small circle of cyber friends who mean the world to me, and whom have been more steadfast and supportive than many of the people I meet face to face. That's not to say that internet friendships are not subject to the same perils and pitfalls that real life friendships are. They can be equally satisfying and equally frustrating because they are equally meaningful.

So I'm certainly not knocking anyone who reaches out to people on the internet, whether they are looking for friendship, romance, or just some intelligent conversation with people who share views, values and interests.

It's not sad. It's not empty. It's not superficial.

But that is rapidly changing, thanks to "social networking" sites, which are reducing our interactions with one another to sound bytes and status updates.

It seems the site most under fire these days is Twitter, because it's the latest, greatest social networking tool, and because it has taken what Facebook started and reduced it to something even less meaningful and less substantive; 140 characters of sheer inanity.

For nobody can relate to another person in a way that is other than inane when one is confined to 140 characters.

I've expressed before how I feel about these sites, and I've sort of felt like the cheese standing alone. Everybody who is anybody Twitters! Or is it Tweets? Even the parlance escapes me. Everybody who is anybody has 4 squillion followers!

But it seems that at least one person agrees with me. Chani expresses all the things I feel about these "social networking" tools with eloquence.

She argues that friendships take time and effort. They require risk. They cannot be fostered through quips, quotes, sound bytes and snippets. And she's absolutely right. But people, particularly Americans, in our fast food society, are all about quick and easy. We are all about instant gratification.

So as long as there is something out there that can give some semblance of a connection with other people; these pseduo friendships, without the expenditure of any time or effort or risk...then places like Twitter, Facebook, and whatever other copycats come along, (because Americans are also all about jumping on a bandwagon, particularly if it is profitable) will continue to gain popularity.

And other forms of communication; real, meaningful communication, will languish and become all but obsolete.

A lot of things that once seemed implausible, impossible and fantastic have come to pass. Some of them are good and useful and benign. Some of them are not.

Does it seem so far fetched then, to imagine that someday, face to face interaction, conversation and socialization could become obsolete. That all of our relationships will be conducted in the digital realm?

It seems like science fiction, doesn't it? But think about it. Are there days when you don't actually talk to someone using your voice? I have my husband and children of course, but there are days that I speak to no one else, personally. Strangely, I rarely experience a sense of isolation, because on those days, although I don't speak to anyone, I communicate with a number of individuals through various mediums; Email, text, Facebook, blog comments...

Our world is growing ever smaller thanks to technological advances in communication and digital media. Our computers are a window to the world.

But sometimes, it might be a good idea to shut the window, open a door, and step out.

And that's why I dislike all these so-called "social" media sites. They are not social at all. They are socially isolating, self-limiting, and insular. They facilitate a sense of community and perpetrate the illusion of inclusion, while drastically reducing the sphere and depth of our interaction.

We will become less and less likely to open our doors and speak to our fellows one on one, when it is so easy to simply throw up the window sash and shout to anyone who might be listening.

In the interest of full disclosure, I do have a Facebook account. So I suppose, in some ways, I am being a huge hypocrite. But you know what? I have like 30 friends on my list. With a few exceptions, they are all, actually, my friends. Most of them, I even know in real life.

I use it as an extension of, not a replacement for, real friendships. I use it a lot to say..."Hey, let's get together for coffee next week."

Open your doors people. Step out. Look each other in the eye. Smile. Speak.

It might be an aniquated idea, but I don't think it's obsolete just yet.


  • At 8:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I agree for the most part. My nephew comes home from high school, only to jump onto MSN to say all the things he is too socially inept to say in person. Our kids don't have the social skills that we had/have. It's sad really.

    However, facebook and Twitter allow me to stay in touch with people who have moved too far away to "step outside" or go for a coffee with. I have reconnected with so many old friends who live hundreds of miles away and, in fact, have used Facebook as a tool to plan get togethers to meet up in real life.

    I think that these social networking sites can be a fantastic tool, if used sensibly. It's the sensibility part that's a problem, not the sites themselves.

  • At 10:35 AM, Blogger Middle Girl said…

    Indeed. Generally, folks who collect "friends" and "followers" like black sweaters collect cat hair are not interested in friendship or connections, just numbers.

    I tweet but follow the tweets of those I've already met (either in real life or via blogging) with one or two exceptions.

    Indeed, extension not replacement.

  • At 10:39 AM, Blogger All Things BD said…

    You know how far in the dark I am? I'm not even ON Facebook. Mostly because I already spend far too many hours on my laptop, and I know it would become ridiculous if I joined.

    I just can't understand the entire Twitter revolution my own self. I am simply not that interesting a person moment to moment, and if something came up that I HAD to tell someone about, I would actually contact my friends, and at the very end put it on my blog.

    Also, I'm apparently a bit longwinded and would feel confined by Twitter. Oh, and that video? Perfection.

  • At 10:51 AM, Anonymous Shutter Bitch said…

    I jumped on the Twitter bandwagon myself, and I find that Twitter is useful for a couple things: breaking news, and discovering new blogs. I find conversations carried out on Twitter and I follow them to their blogs, where the real internet interaction begins. I've gotten new readers myself the same way. People with whom I now email and converse and interact. During the presidential election, the opinions were flying on Twitter and I found myself, in real time, having discussions with people while the debates were going on, and I learned a lot from others as the stuff was happening, not as an afterthought as my memory faded of things said and in need of discussion.

    Twitter has its uses. They aren't many, but as long as one has some perspective there, Twitter isn't completely worthless. To me, it's a gateway to other corners of the internet I haven't yet ventured, and there is where the true interaction begins.

  • At 12:56 PM, Anonymous OmegaMom said…

    Aw! I like Twitter! It's like a never-ending cocktail party! You get tidbits and pointers to interesting articles and silly fluff and puns and a place to post things that you find interesting but ephemeral.

    And, of course, lots and lots and lots of inanities. :D

    It certainly isn't the Second Coming that some people claim (?!), but it's definitely fun.

  • At 1:19 PM, Blogger Rob said…

    Something tells me that we're of very like minds on this stuff. Twitter is, just as OmegaMom said, a perpetual cocktail party - and all that that implies. Meaningless smalltalk and chit-chat intended to impress far more than express. I like that Twitter allows me to discover and connect with other people in my geographic region in a way that I had not previously, but it's mostly fluff. Worse yet, Twitter is, by design, practically a spam engine. There are lots of people posting links - and lots of followers ReTweeting those links, but are they of any real value? Some, but not many.

    Of course, I also rail against cell phones. Heck, I remember when a telephone was something you used to speak to another human being. Now cell phones are nothing more than a text messaging platform and many people would never think to actually talk to someone else on a cell phone.

  • At 1:53 PM, Blogger Notes and letters to myself.... said…

    I love facebook because it's fun but I don't get Twitter at all. Is that weird?

  • At 12:23 PM, Blogger mamatulip said…

    This is a very well-written post, BA. You've touched on several thoughts that I've had about social media over the last several months.

  • At 7:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    you know where i stand on this one!

  • At 7:40 PM, Blogger SUEB0B said…

    Twitter is fun AND it has helped me to meet up with friends from cyberspace in the real world. I'm really bad about calling people to set up dates, but if I see they are going to be in my area, I tweet and ask if they want to have coffee or lunch...I also just enjoy the background chatter and sharing and the stuff I learn. It has really made my life more fun.

  • At 12:53 PM, Blogger Roshni said…

    I completely agree. I joined twitter last week coz I felt I should try it before I condemn it. I can't believe how utterly boring it is to read about some inane detail about another person's day even if he or she is my friend) and have to think about some inane detail to share that has to be restricted to 140 char. Yes, decidedly I am old (to the younger generation), but I just cannot be so 'with it' that I have to waste my time like this!!


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