Thursday, July 15, 2010

Social Networks are for Suckers

Have you ever watched an internet addict go into withdrawal, bereft of his/her beloved world wide web? It's not a pretty sight. More and more, I find we're starting to see people look at life with the same set of standards they apply to the internet - a set of standards that were originally only intended for the nudging around of tiny data packets, not interacting in the real world with flesh-and-blood people. Which is precisely why I find so many people incapable of communicating these days - it seems almost everyone I try to talk to these days speaks in disjointed non-sequiturs, and can't focus.

If one must be addicted to the net, at least let it be for a fruitful and noble purpose - like research, studying, learning, self-promotion, cultural enrichment, and of course, porn. But it blows my mind how many of you people out there are spending your entire lives online for the empty, hollow, and meaningless hive-mind pursuit of social networking.

Time and time again, I get odd stares from people - even cool people whose viewpoints I usually respect - when I tell them I am philosophically opposed to Facebook, MySpace, or anything like it. Some roll their eyes and say, "Oh, come on, Jeff, it's not that bad. It's really a very handy tool for marketing and networking, you're just being stubborn. Facebook is a place where you can send messages to all your friends and acquaintances, gathered together right at your fingertips in a manageable way."

Oh yeah? Well, guess what - I already have something like that. It's called e-mail.

During my ill-advised tenure as a staff writer for Louisville Mojo, I saw one poor schmuck actually declare on his profile page, words to this effect: "Hey, I haven't been keeping up with my Mojo account lately and I need to build up my posse. Anyone want to join my friends list, please add me!" So, uh, how on Earth is a "friends list" of remotely any meaning or value, when you allow anyone and everyone to get on it, for no other purpose than building up the number of random people on it?

In one sense, I have many, many friends already and don't need the internet to find more - especially not of the pointless "we added each other on Facebook but have nothing to say to each other" variety. In another sense, I have very few true friends that I choose to keep in my insider's circle, as it were - everyone else is a more casual friend, acquaintance, or business associate. Either way one looks at it, I have utterly no use for a social network to communicate with my friends. Unlike my web-obsessed peers, I actually go outside sometimes and do things with my friends - you know, like, in real life. Try it sometime. I know, I know, it's so 20th century.

Then, too, there's the problem of giving all your friends access to each other. I hang out with a wide variety of types of people, perhaps more so than the average fellow. It would be like throwing a party where everyone you've ever known at any stage of your life was welcome, which can only end in a flamewar. Do you really think I want to set up a central location where my Bible-thumping friends meet my transgendered dominatrix friends? Where my Mormon friends meet my Mormon-hating friends? Where my redneck friends meet my librarian friends? Where my Tea Party friends meet my ACLU friends? Where my secret lover in France meets my other secret lovers in Virginia Beach, Toronto, Cincinnati, and Renfro Valley? (I'm kidding, gals, I'm kidding!)

- - JSH


brine said...

I go on this rant all the time, too. People are completely addicted to cell phone texting and facebooking and cell phone facebooking. The basic laws of any kind of conversation or even politeness have been thrown out the window. People just sitting around talking to the internet. yuck.

J.T. Dockery said...

I didn't really read this post, as I was too busy talking, texting, updating my Facebook status, and driving while following the directions from my GPS. But it seemed like it was probabaly a good read.

JSH said...

I'm going to Digg your comment, then Tweet that I did so, while updating my LinkedIn profile from this wireless deelywhopper I stole off a spaceship.

Melissa said...

Ammun, to that, brother. I remember all too well when a few of my college friends, having over-indulged in some of the first electronic communication available, seemed to lose completely their ability to converse with us in person. Whatever social skills they had had before atrophied away.

I've been stunned at how many folks, now, have tried to talk me into joining networking sites--after I politely explain why I haven't. 'Oh, it doesn't take much time,' they've said, 'unless you start playing the games on them.' Imagine me, never having heard of Mafia Wars. Nonplussed is an understatement.