Being antisocial by nature, I have a love-hate relationship with social networking. Actually, I think a lot of people do; there’s plenty to be annoyed about. So it was only natural that sooner or later, I’d write a post about it. Admittedly, I was at least partly inspired by Buzz Bissinger, in a reactionary kind of way; also by a friend who deleted her Facebook account.
But you have to get your timing right with these things. I wrote the first sentence of this post on Wednesday, somewhere between 7.30 and 8.00 pm. Then I got distracted. By Twitter. Specifically, by the #spill hashtag. Without thinking about it, I got swept up in the instantaneous updates about the swift changes to Australia’s leadership.
My husband commented that he was surprised at how involved I got, but the truth is that without Twitter, I would likely have gone to bed without knowing and woken up with a new Prime Minister. With Twitter (which is still quite new for me), I was able to watch it all unfold from speculation into something real. And comment in real time.
But it only took me so far, because at around 10pm I turned to the same medium that I always turn to when there’s a real emergency: radio. The radio was on when Rabin died, when 9/11 happened, even when there was a blackout in our area (on my mobile). And then, I turned to my least-liked medium, the television, and watched Rudd address the press.
It was interesting to be a minuscule part of what may be a historic change in our society, and I think I can say that I get Twitter better because of it. But most of my beefs with social networking remain. Many of them have been covered already by The Oatmeal (which is brilliant), among others.
To me, what they boil down to is that social networking most often magnifies what people always were. Interesting people are interesting on social networking sites; I like many of the links that people share and the witty one-liners that make the most of Twitter’s 140-character limit. But people who were annoying before now have a bigger platform upon which to annoy their cohort.
For instance. On Twitter, I was most recently staggered by the #amwriting hashtag. Oh, you’re writing a novel/screenplay/poem? Wonderful… but I don’t want to know about it until you’re done (and it’s published, but therein lies another story). You don’t get a gold star for being creative, especially not if you feel the need to stop and tweet about it. Just write the damn thing.
Which leads me to my other problem with social networks (is it ironic that I’m complaining about this on a blog? I think so), which is more a general internet thing. I’ve been online for about 12 years. First it was email, then IRC, then message boards, and now social networking. They all have the same problem: not only do they waste time, they seem to sap creativity. Mine, at least; I can’t speak for anyone who’s #amwriting (grammar cringe, I know).
Here’s my theory. I’ve got a certain number of words I can write per day. I’m not sure how many exactly, but I know I was prolific… once. But now, instead of being concentrated in one story, it’s diffused over all these ridiculous websites. So I’m currently quite jealous of my friend who deleted her Facebook. But I can’t do that, because I’m addicted. If you need me, I’ll just be out trying to find some discipline. BBL…