09 September 2010

Anti Social (Network) behavior

I am, by nature, not a very social person so anything I say on this subject should be taken in that light. I have also been someone who embraced the new technologies and the internet from the very start. I had a «car phone», which was later a cell phone. Yes, at first there wasn’t much battery life in a portable phone despite the fact they were the size of a handbag they needed your car battery to keep you talking more than a few minutes. I was also on various profile driven sites, AOL chat, even «Friendster». I still like video chat and meeting new people that way, just no where near as much as I used to. I no longer have a cell phone (which sends most people into a fit of confusion).

As these social networks expanded and took over more and more of people’s lives I’ve found them to be the exact opposite of social. «MySpace» and «Facebook» for example give you the ability to post your activities, photos and thoughts to all your «friends» in one space at the same time. Sounds good, except there is nothing social about it. It’s no more social than writing a message on a wall on a street many people you know, and many more you don’t, pass by every day. You’ve managed to transmit personal information without any social contact whatsoever. People can know the details of your life, but not you. It’s like an interactive form letter some send out yearly. Sure it gives everyone information they might be interested in knowing but it eliminates the most important part... that the information comes from interacting with you as a real person and in person. As a result we see the real skills of socializing in groups or even one on one in the physical world suffering. I’d much rather get a short email sent from a friend to me and get feedback from the email. Better yet, a phone call or visit now and then would be nice. I still write and recieve letters sent by post now and then, it’s quite pleasant to get a letter in the mail from someone you like.

The «electronic text only» way of communicating leaves out all emotions. A cartoon happy face does not take the place of a real smile and it’s just plain impossible to tell someone’s state of mind, even if they are happy or sad from what you are reading most of the time. It is far too easy to interpret things according to your mood at the moment and not as the sender intended.

I don’t knock these avenues of communication as useless, just overused and a lazy and even cowardly way to interact. I can’t tell you how many times recently an old pal I have lost contact with has has asked for my «Facebook» page, not to get back in touch, but merely to increase their «friends» list numbers. Me, I’d rather stick to my small circle of real life friends than have 1000’s of impersonal contacts that don’t talk to me personally but to the nameless crowd, many of whom they’ve never met.


Unknown said...

Hello Vincent-Louis. To be with people is demanding and frightening. Is modern life more demanding than ever? I am not sure. Solicitation, stimulation, feeling exasperation, it is what I am experiencing now. I'm in a deep relationship that nourishes me and kills me at the same time. The usual loving triangle. So, I am often more than happy to surf with others, not making too much commitment, because, the other way, I would tell again and again my story to the point of being heavy. My dream is simple: be able to love intensively a companion without any fear, even for a fraction of a little second. Facebook is the shadow of that, I think.

Behemoth media said...

I am not sure I understand your comment . I think you are saying because you have a lot of difficulty relating to people in life that Facebook lets you have superficial contact which gives you a small taste of social contact without the risk? That seems to confirm my idea that these social networks keep some people from having to deal with others or themselves in anything other than a depersonalized way. Something I don't really want to be a part of.

T' said...

I have a Facebook page and honestly have been on the fence about getting rid of it for awhile now. Yes, it lets me keep in touch with people far away both physically and temporally but really, does it mean anything? No. And I get requests for 'friendship' every so often from people I either barely know or don't at all. What's the point? I prefer LiveJournal, though that's becoming passe, because you generally have to have something to say to be bothered to post. Same thing with blogspot, I guess.

Electronic connection is far inferior to face to face, but in some cases, it's better than nothing. Especially with folks like you and me who might otherwise not have ever connected again. Right? :"D

Behemoth media said...

Well it's true, we reconnected through the inter, but also we send personal emails and I have no doubt we'll be talking on the phone or even meeting up again some day. I did say there were not useless and I think our being able to continue our friendship despite the distance is proof of that! (we didn't do on facebook though!)