February 12, 2011

Annoyance with Social Networking, A Rant

I am going to offer an ironic statement as a wanna-be blogger: I am tired of some forms of social networking. Specifically Facebook.

I waffle, as I check for updates, whether I should just cancel my whole account and force anyone who actually really wants to talk to me to contact me directly to show me their pictures of their holiday or children. This network has its purposes but it feels so very lazy. It seems like I have "friends" without benefits and, really, what is the point of that?!

Facebook reminds me of a comment made by a friend several years ago when she and I were discussing whether we'd attend our 10 year High School Reunion. (We didn't.) Her comment was that we could all save ourselves the time and effort if we all just filled out a form with the pertinent information that everyone wants to know and circulate it in newsletter format. Information to be compiled would include but not be limited to: a current picture, marital status (history optional), total # of pounds gained since high school, a brief timeline of travels/jobs/major life events since we saw you last, and a comment on how you currently spend you time. We laughed at how easy that would be and unlikely it was to occur. Apparently neither of us were visionaries because isn't that EXACTLY what Facebook does for us now?

I have found many people on Facebook who went to my same high school. Some of them had been very good friends to me or to Scott. Many have found me too. I enjoy seeing pictures of them in their lives now including pictures of their spouses, families and vacations. I am interested in their lives but feel quite satisfied just being a lurker. Does that make me a lazy friend?

Well, no. The ugly truth- most of these people aren't my friends now; most have been, sadly, downgraded to friendly acquaintances. Acquaintances that I may have grown up with or have spent several years of my life at their house talking about boys and dreaming about the future. These may be people who I could see tomorrow and we could pick right up where we had left off and we could become friends once again. To be a friend there needs to be some reciprocity of time, effort and interest.

So why do any of us bother trying to maintain these friendly acquaintances? Logic says that their lives are just as busy as mine. They are likely trying to juggle life as best they can too. Maybe this is the best that we can do sometimes and these ties, even the weak ones, allow us to feel like we are not alone through the balancing act.


What got me thinking about this topic in the first place? One of my favourite authors, Malcolm Gladwell, wrote this article in The New Yorker about Why the revolution will not be tweeted. It is a really interesting and relevant article about social media and its role in social activism. (Eygpt, anyone?) It also briefly discusses the function of social networking sites like Facebook. Very interesting read!

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