Tuesday, March 18, 2014

#blogpost #socialmedia #deargodmakemestop

A few weeks ago I had a dinner party at which I had a bizarre revelation.  Looking around at the faces of my friends, I cried out "Oh my GOD!  I just realized that I met all of you through social media!"  Befuddled, I pointed at them one by one.  "I reconnected with you guys on Facebook, I met you on Twitter, you three all read my blog, and I met you on Match!"*

*Yes, I'm still friends with guys I dated in the past.  I have trouble getting rid of things.

My mother believes that in the future, we will look back at the era of Facebook, Twitter, and Match.com and mark their emergence as the beginning of society's downfall.  And maybe she's right.  I mean, I have definitely met some quality people on those sites, but there's a certain level of narcissistic crazy out there as well.  Most of these sites only offer you a limited view of the person; a snapshot and "profile" of their best self along with enough posts and "likes" to make you feel like you really know them.  But you don't.  You don't KNOW them.  There is a false sense of intimacy created as we begin bonding and relating to people when in reality, what is lying below so many of those smiling timeline pictures and snappy tweets would leave you more rattled than a cocktail shaker at the Kennedy Compound.

I myself am guilty of such deception.  My Facebook page doesn't show pictures of me cleaning cat puke off of the sofa, nor do I tweet about how many times I've cried during an episode of "Hoarders".*

*Five.  Don't judge.

It's easy for people to think they know me based on what I put out on the internet but in reality, that's only one facet of who I am.  The only glaring exception is my blog.  Because, yes; if you read my blog, you know me.  You can't make this shit up, y'all.  But if you honestly believe that there are people out there Googling your name, searching your "friends" list on Facebook, and scrolling through your SoundCloud playlist in a concerted effort to get to "know" you better, then you aren't paranoid, you're perceptive.

Lately, we have become such a computer-based society that we've been driven to the confines of our homes and offices which in turn keeps us from meeting other people which THEN forces us to turn to the internet yet again in an effort to mix and mingle.  Loneliness and agoraphobia has driven more people than a taxi driver on dollar beer night, straight into the arms of the World Wide Web.  It's even permeated into our pop culture.  From Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in "You've Got Mail" to Scarlett Johansson in "Her", modern internet romance is de rigeur.*

*Although, I'll admit I never saw "Her".  I have issues with Scarlett Johannson.  And, yes, I know she wasn't actually IN the movie, but I find the mere implication of her disturbing.

Lately, I've been thinking about my level of involvement on social media and realized that it's gone about 50 shades of 'cray'.  I check my Twitter feed more often than I check on my kids, and I treat Facebook like I do my refrigerator: I keep opening it at random intervals thinking something good will be in there...but it never is.  I have spent hours discussing and critiquing articles on the Huffington Post like I was at a NATO summit, and my browser history is crammed tighter than a Bejing subway during rush hour.  I have got to stop this insanity before I start asking my short people "How was school today, dot com?"*

*Although, if I were asking about school, it would probably be 'dot edu'; but I digress.

I don't regret the time I've spent on social media in the past.  Well, except for Pinterest; because. . .fuck you, Pinterest and your artistry of time suckage.  Because despite all of the deception, douchebaggery, and delirium, I have met some amazing people on the internet.  My fellow female bloggers have become my tribe; ones I can turn to in times of need.  I have met so many of my readers face to face and found that each and every one of them is an amazing and powerful person with their own incredible stories to share.  I've reconnected with high school friends on Facebook who are every bit as magical today as they were 20+ years ago, in part because we share a history.  My best guy friend I met on Twitter.  My best girl friend I met in a parenting chat room.  And the man I'm currently dating, I met on Match.  And no, he doesn't have any dead coeds stashed under his floorboards, nor does he appear to have any disturbing flesh wounds, so I'm declaring that a win.

So, is my mom right? Will social media ultimately destroy society as we know it, leading to an Armageddon of dystopian proportions where governments crumble and buildings burn?  Perhaps.  But at least I can toast marshmallows with my internet homies over the charred refuse of our fallen cities.  And you can't buy entertainment like that folks.

Although your iPhone probably has an app for that.




Erica B said...

whoa. I have to scarily agree that I check twitter more than my kids.. yikes.

But I too have met some really great people in the internet so it's not all bad.
Maybe we should take some webinars on how to behave in real life social situations, because I think that it going to be the biggest problem as we get deeper in this portable technology age. We're not going to know how to interact with people, in person, as a society. Many of us aren't good at it now, let alone in 20 years.

Mandy said...

I know we haven't met in person, but I totally intend to remedy that if we're ever in each others' general vicinity.

Either way, I think you're frickin awesome. And reading your blog/FB stuff makes me want to meet you in person.

Justamom said...

Ok is it wrong that while and since reading this post I can not stop thinking about what song or songs there are about eating bacon.

Or is it just songs that you should play while eating bacon?

What genre of music does bacon eating fall under?

OMG make the questions stop....

Jen said...

Thinking about bacon is never wrong, Justamom. Never-ever-ever...

Angel The Alien said...

I think it can make society stronger, if we use it wisely. I know so many people who have met friends, boyfriends/girlfriends and spouses online, reconnected with old friends and family members, etc. I've even known of adult children finding their estranged parents or siblings online! It brings people together and encourages communication. The trick is to teach today's kids to keep on living in real life, and using the Internet as a tool, instead of letting them completely grow up online and think of the World Wide Web just as their World.

tbunni said...

So twice a year I and my 40 or 50 closest friends go camping. Deep in the woods of Oregon. No signals to be had anywhere,for miles. No Twitter, no Facebook or any of those other things. Since I am a self-declared Luddite (this is as tech-y as I get) I'm used to this. For the first few hours most people still reach reflexively for their devices, but soon something truly amazing happens. People start to talk, to each other - without the use of technology! Actual live conversations! Walks down to the river, or just sit and chat by the fire. There is a whole, wonderful world out there - no signal required to enjoy.

And this is why you should take your kids camping.

Valerie said...

I completely agree with you... But every time I try to quit Facebook, I break out in hives and end up on a bender. I may have to wait til I hit rock bottom. Which should be any day now.