You know me. I’m a regular at the social network water cooler, either scrolling for updates or passing posts. We’ve met, right? No? Friend me!
But oh lordy, I’d really rather you didn’t. Thing is, there simply is no way I can keep up with what others think I should know! It’s like I’ve created my own FEED (ala M. T. Anderson’s dystrophic tale).
Sometimes I want to unplug forever. But, will you remember me if I do?
Remember passing notes in elementary school? My friends and I could speak multiple times during the day and night, yet there was nothing more tantalizing than finding a folded-up note secretly placed in a palm, or locker, or desk, scribbled full of rants, inspirations, worries, invitations, and dramas. Always the dramas.
Skip forward to the internet spreading its broadbands with Compuserve and Prodigy and AOL, oh my. I quickly learned to pass notes in cyberspace. Friends Reunited and Friendster courted me. Soon Friendster begot MySpace, Friends Reunited begot Classmates who begot Six Degrees, AOL Chat, Live Journal, and Linkedin. Been there, done them all.
Then that damn college kid at Harvard introduced THE FACEBOOK which insidiously came knocking at my cellar door I love you baby can I have some more. Ooh, ooh the damage (was) done. Officially hooked, I soon had to have more, gorging on Itunes, Podcasting, and blogs. Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube added to my high.
Now the sound of the Social Network explosion is deafening with Tumblr, Google+, VK, Flickr, Tagged, AskFM, Meetup, Meetme, Reddit, Mashable, Foursquare, Stumbleupon, Path, GetGlue, Gowalla, Highlight, Creepy, Vine, Snapchat, KiK, Pheed,
Signing on absorbs me when I let it, and like a magnet, I’m drawn to the exchange of political views. I seek truth and am teased into a false sense of security to speak openly, to reveal truths I may or may not be entirely ready to share. Did you “Like” my post?
Oh, whose counting. ;)
I am fascinated by the construction of personal “brands” via social networking. Amazing posts leading to brilliant conversations appear and suddenly disappear for fear of repercussion, for fear of the affect or effect a comment or opinion could have on one’s job, or family or sales.
Friends and peers who are clearly uncomfortable with the medium force themselves to network online or be seen as a marketing failure and left behind. Business perspicacity demands social networking = connections = influence = success. The medium has created careers. Lost your job? Get your Social Media Certificate! Become a search engine optimizer (SEO). Or a social media strategist or copywriter.
I get a kick out of those who announce their brief departures from the grid, as if signing off for a few minutes is the same as taking a trip to Mars, as if it needs to be announced, as if the world demands their immediate reaction and response and will be panicked without this knowledge of the minutia. I get a bigger kick out of those who get this, but do so for wit’s sake.
Still, loved ones who have signed off for weeks or permanently worry me and I want to know why. They probably won’t be reading this though.
Like a drug roller coaster, my spirits either lift, plummet, or drag when I reconnect with people I’ve missed dearly or with others I so wanted to forget.
My family shares photos and birthdays, births and deaths.
As do my friends.
As do my acquaintances.
As do people I really don’t know well enough to care about.
Sounds so harsh in this connected world.
The best part of this frenzy is when it’s like sitting in the wine pit with dear friends, hearing about their good news, book releases, and babies, and feeling the hugs and cheers over mine. The overwhelming part is having access to more information than I could read in a lifetime.
And that’s the problem.
I imagine an evil pusherman discouraging my productivity, turning me into a sloth. Or that I’m living in a 1984ish world where my perspective is fed and manipulated, where I’ve been forced to surrender my actual time interacting with live flora and fauna and flotsum and friends. The evil ones laugh at my lack of fresh air and exercise, at the books I’ll never read and the quality time I won’t spend with people I love because of my addiction.
There. I’ve said it. I am an addict. “I’ve seen the needle and the damage done. A little part of it in everyone.”
Then again, maybe, just maybe, I haven’t stopped being that elementary school kid, still wanting to pass notes, to share rants, inspirations, worries, invitations, and always the dramas.
I’m determined to avoid the water-cooler and more fully imbibe my amazing life.
But will you forget me if I do?