The ramblings of an Eternal Student of Life
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Thursday, December 16, 2010
Current Affairs ... Society ...

Despite the fact that everyone is doing it, I’m staying away from Facebook and Twitter. There’s still something about the digital “social network” thing that gives me the creeps. Well, I just read an article on the British Guardian website telling me that I’m not the only one who feels that way. A writer named Oliver Burkeman says here that Facebook is a system of “quasi-friendship”. There’s a huge gap between what you read about a person on the Facebook “wall” or on Twitter, and with what their life is really like. The social network sites tell you about people’s successes, accomplishments and interesting experiences, but never discuss their doubts and fears. What you get on the Facebook wall is just what you’d expect from a wall, i.e. a two-dimensional poster image.

Well, my thanks to Mr. Burkeman for putting into words what bothers me about Facebook. I believe that the whole thing goes deeper than a lot of people just having fun with a web site; it seems to indicate the direction of the social tide in America and probably Britain and Europe too. This tide goes away from sharing and honest communications about our innermost selves. We are becoming more and more isolated by fears of vulnerability and exploitation, or by just “not having the time for it”.

Whatever the explanation, I don’t like what I see these days. There are probably plenty of “eternal students” and “nowhere men” on Facebook; but I don’t plan to be one of them!

◊   posted by Jim G @ 10:48 pm      

  1. Jim, I really cannot speak to either Facebook or Twitter; I know nothing about them except the little I read about them. So my comments will be very limited.

    Based on that little I have read, I understand that when using Twitter, one must communicate one’s tho’t(s) in 140 characters–not words, characters (blank spaces count). So if one is talking about communication with other people the most one could communicate would be the most shallow of tho’ts.

    I can see, however, that in some cases such “simple” communication might be useful. For instance, “Help” is a very necessary but simple communication. However, I doubt that when a person needs help, Twitter is the place to go.

    As to Facebook, I understand that celebrities have thousands of “friends.” Non-celebrities but perhaps the “popular” student in school may have 400 friends. This is really not any legitimate information, just something I have heard. But if such is the case, it seems to me that intimacy would be the first to suffer.

    But then again, since I do not participate in either of these, perhaps these small comments are not valid to make either. MCS

    Comment by Mary S. — December 17, 2010 @ 2:38 pm

  2. Mary,

    I’m not on Facebook or Twitter either, as I said. But that doesn’t stop me from blabbing on about them! Both sites are major cultural institutions, and even if you don’t post to them, most everyone (including myself) views those sites, looking at walls and message lists. You can’t go more than a few days without someone discussing the pros and cons of “social” media (anti-social, if Mr. Burkeman and myself are correct). So, I say that Facebook and Twitter are fair and open targets, even if you aren’t on them. Unless you live in a cave or a very sheltered monastery (which actually doesn’t sound like a bad idea to me!), they are a part of your life, like it or not.

    Comment by Jim G — December 18, 2010 @ 7:18 pm

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