Very recently indeed… I watched in virtual disbelief as someone I know quite well aired their personal life’s dirty linen on facebook…
I had read lots of those stories all over the place about people doing it, but never actually witnessed it first hand… Until now.
What does it say about the world we live in… Or how we choose to communicate that we announce our relationship status via facebook before efectively resolving our issues in our real world first? Or that we seem to need to let people know that we are popping to get a cup of tea via twitter…
Main headlines here in the UK saw the media pointing out that research now shows social networking sites to be diminishing a childs ability to concentrate for periods of time…
I use these modes of online communication and it has led me to think hard about the effect on me and how I live my life and run my business… Let me explain…
I laughed out loud at Randy Gage’s latest blog post talking about one of the critters you do not want to be on Twitter is the ‘TMI Guy’ which stands for ‘Too much information’ — he says:
The TMI Guy
Information is valuable and we all got on Twitter to get more of it. But there is such a thing as too much information. The TMI guy (or gal) suffers from the delusion that their life is interesting, and Tweets a steady stream of inane blather from rising until they mercifully log off and go to bed. The typical stream from someone in this category looks like this:
@VacuousTwit going to the mall, 2 minutes ago
@VacuousTwit I so need a manicure, 4 minutes ago
@VacuousTwit my cat just spit up a hairball yuck! 7 minutes ago
@VacuousTwit anyone see Buffy last night? 10 minutes ago
@VacuousTwit pink t-shirt or blue one, decisions! 12 minutes ago
@VacuousTwit No tweets from Melissa, bummer, 14 minutes ago
@VacuousTwit Coco Puffs, yum!, 16 minutes ago
@VacuousTwit BRB, gotta poop, 19 minutes ago
@VacuousTwit just got up, brushing my teeth, 20 minutes ago
The TMI Twitterer believes we’re all fascinated to learn that the mail arrived, what they had for lunch, or that they need to buy maxi pads. We’re not. In fact, we really don’t give a shit.
Not even your mother wants to hear a minute-by-minute broadcast of your day. Your life is just not that interesting. This is the online equivalent of the Valley Girl.
Please note if you are @lancearmstrong, @THE_REAL_SHAQ, or @MCHammer, you get an exemption. Because we’re fanatically obsessed with celebrity, we want to know all the minutia about every thing that ever happens to and around you, including when you cut your toenails.
That made me laugh…
Last week, I read Caroline Adams Miller stating in her blog that most procrastination experts agree on the problem with technologies like Twitter and Facebook — that they contribute to further procrastination.
I’ve certainly pondered these new technologies as possibly being deeply addictive distractions from life itself… And, as Caroline noted, you end up
“. . . commenting about what other people are doing, or commenting on something you are going to do, but you are not actually doing yet.”
Is that the case? I always cover a topic of interest to me and (I believe) my readers… Then it gets whizzed over to facebook and I offer up a tweet in relation to it… Isn’t that they way to use these technologies?
Do these seductive technologies push us to the sidelines of life? Are we really too busy writing those 200 text messages a day to actually stay engaged in our own lives?
I can empathise with those that think the problem with these technologies is that they are incredibly seductive… I think they are too, to some extent…
They offer up a way of immediately communicating with lots of people, they immediately and constantly available and for some, they are immediately rewarding… So if we are angry about a relationship split… We can angrily and perhaps quite childishly blurt it out to loads of people… Uh-oh…
We make rational decisions over irrationally short periods of time that suck us in… And I have just watched it happen to people I know…
So I think that at the same time, these social networking tools don’t just entertain us, or offer us small business guys a way to distribute our message… I think they feed a basic human need for relatedness…
I think that we get a mini-addiction to that though, what do you think? Like an eating disorder of some kind, we binge… And when such a thing happens, there is little or no satiation, only increasing tolerance and use…
As can be read in the books of Neil Postman, who knew this all too well. Stating that these technologies, seemingly tools for productivity, can undermine our ability to be productive.
Now I tend to think I am in control of what I am doing… I was interviewed recently for Rapport magazine here in the Uk and I realised what a conscious process I have for my social networking… Although some may see that as an addictive trait, I don’t believe so… You have to love the way I dismissed that train of thought without validating my side of the argument…
What do you think then, are we in control of our online social networking?
Or are we falling into a big black hole….?
I would agree with the comments about the TMI guy/gal and also that it increases procrastination! It is a tool that should be used with care or else nothing on it will be read.
To be honest, the whole social networking thing puzzles me a little bit. You hear a lot of nonsense these days along the lines of: “these days, people are even falling in love online”. No they are not. They’re meeting online, going on an actual date or two and then seeing if they like each other. But these social networking websites have changed the way we socialise. No. Scratch that. They have given us more ways of socialising. Now, this does not mean that we only have friendships with people on social networking websites. Quite a few of my friends are on social networking websites and I might chat to them on line but I met the flesh and blood version of them and made friends with the flesh and blood version of them.
My memories of wonderful times, fallings out and in one or two cases, romantic relationships, are memories featuring flesh and blood. Not USB holes, Broadband connections and avatars (in the technological sense and not the spiritual sense. Well, the technological sense of the word comes from the spiritual sense but…anyway…moving on).
That said, there are a couple of friends on my profiles on social networking websites who I have never met in the “real world” (what the flip is “the real world” in this context? Are we assuming that the Internet is not part of the real world? Are we saying that the Internet is a world different from our reality?). My better half is a lot more cautious about who she adds as a friend on social networking websites. Quite a few times she’s said to me: “so, you adding her as a friend has nothing to do with the fact she’s pretty?” Let me be clear, I do not cheat or mess anyone about. But to be honest, yes, I do like the idea that good looking women might, on occasion, like to add me as a friend on Facebook. It doesn’t happen often, though. Usually, it’s some guy called Clive I met once at a Doctor Who convention who wants to continue the argument I had with him about the difference between the Dalek Emperor and the Supreme Dalek.
Losing friends on social networking websites can hurt. Two people deleted me from their friends list last year, for no real reason, and I felt upset about it. The level of hurt is nowhere near as bad as when you lose a good, long standing friend in the “real world” (if we must use that term. Who on earth is defining the paramiters of this apparently all encompassing reality?) but it can upset you for a while.
I do hold a lot back on social networking websites, though. I will not discuss or announce my relationship status (I did use a social networking website to ask why my better half was spending a lot of her time looking at and talking about an ad for an Adele Parks book with a half naked man on it. She said she already had a hunk at home so she didn’t need the man in the photo. I demanded to know who this hunk was and then felt stupid when she replied: “You, you berk!”) because, to me, that is the business of myself and my girlfriend, partner or, in the future perhaps, wife. I am quite a private person (says the man with a blog read by more than 23,000 people in 52 countries) and it takes a lot of effort to get close to me.
Social networking websites are great communication tools for keeping in touch with people. Are they addictive? Maybe. I am aware that I am steadily moving from the life stage where I understand technology to the life stage where all I will hear in the future is: “oh, Dad, you are so old fashioned…” every time I ask about modern technology. I’m not a parent yet but I have reached the stage in my life where I quite like the idea of being a parent.
Staying indoors all the time would be a bad idea and could cause problems. Not having friends in the “real world” and not socialising at all could cause problems. Not getting enough fresh air and exercise could cause problems. Being too private as a person could cause problems. But to be honest, I do not see enough evidence to convince me that social networking websites are the main or even a big cause of those things that could cause problems. I mean, reading a book is, during the actual reading, a private activity where you sit down on your own and read. But, last time I checked, nobody is shouting: “Reading too many books is a really bad thing!” to the heavens.
Airing one’s “dirty linen” on a social networking website might actually be the lesser of two evils. At least that way, only your friends have to put up with it and it’s a pretty clear indication that a friend is in trouble and might need help and advice. Which would we rather: a friend who lets the world know when he’s got hurt feelings or a friend who never tells us they’re upset and never lets us in to help? Which is better: airing your dirty linen in relative privacy amongst “friends” or airing it in public in the “real world” where every man and his dog gets to know your business?