Facebook, MySpace and Our Communal Demise or Growth?

Lately I've started to consider the real value of social networks. I remember the day my brother told me about this start-up called MySpace and how I could connect with friends, find dates, etc. I signed up sometime in 2005 and subsequently fully embraced its tools. I wrote notes to friends and strangers with similar interests, posted pictures and listed my favorite books, movies and music.

Then about a year or so ago I grew incredibly tired of the site, especially its hiccups, its incessant ads, its new owner and the fact that bands I loved were now supporting a Murdoch-owned organization. I canceled my account. Then came Facebook. It proved to be a much easier, sleeker and less-invasive version of MySpace. And it gave me what I needed: simple ways of finding folks, perusing photos and other nifty tools. But lately, just like I felt about MySpace over time, I've grown to almost detest certain aspects. I tend to find well over half of people's "status updates" to be grating (including my own). And then there are the folks who use an @ symbol to denote the people they're with or meeting, which I believe indicates one's Twitter handle. I find this insufferable. But at the same time, I'm surprised I haven't started doing this myself.

For the past few months, I found little reason to post some stupid and clever (to myself) status update, and relied more on just posting articles I found interesting. It may have been something on the Gaza conflict or an old Kinks clip or maybe a nice photo. And then I started to find even this somewhat annoying.

This week I had dinner with a friend and we caught up on politics, our work, and other events in our lives. We spent about 90 minutes just talking. I didn't feel the urge to update my status and let everyone know where I was and who I was with. I just felt like talking and listening. And yesterday I stopped into a friend's store and again, we talked for about a half hour and planned on getting lunch next week. Neither of these people use Facebook much, and maybe this is why I looked for a face-to-face encounter. Everyone else lets me know exactly what they're doing all the time, from watching some crappy Grateful Dead video to not looking forward to Monday.

At times, I have been an absolute Facebook junkie. I'll be on there for hours looking at photos, reading updates, seeing what groups people belong to. But in the end, all of these things tell me almost nothing about the person. I now end up skipping past the people I don't know well and just looking at pictures and updates from those close to me. I mean, if you've seen a picture of my friend's Katherine and Neil's kid Kiran, you'll know what I mean. Following the rest seems to be a complete waste of time. Do I really care what Joe from that conference in LA is considering for lunch? Well, I did. But not anymore. I mean, just get a BLT or something.

I've been thinking of this for some time now, and then this little piece in the Chicago Tribune mirrored my thinking. I spent a good portion of this week in parks throughout San Francisco. I listened to music, played with dogs, went for a few runs and watched some movies. And this coming week, I'm planning on taking a little road trip for a few days.

What am I really getting at? Facebook status updates limit the text you can include, but not here. Now you know everything. And if you don't, a link to this post will be on my Facebook page.


sticker said...
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