Social Media Without The Social

As i discussed in my last post, i deleted my facebook account not to long ago. i’ve reduced the people i follow on twitter to a very small trickle. i also participated in the social media purging day back in march. i was always reluctant to jump into social networking. now i think my reservations are becoming more of a reality.

Something always struck me as hollow about social networks. they make it very easy to create links with people where such links didn’t exist. it’s also supposed to make existing links stronger. while the latter could be true, what’s the value on the former? on facebook, for me, i ended up talking to the same 12-15 people i have been talking to for years. the only difference was that i had all this other noise in my life. status updates from old high school classmates, requests to pet my old grade school deskmates unicorn, etc… just more noise that I need to filter out.

if you have a large collection of newly formed, loosely connected links, there’s probably a reason why there has been no link in the past. you probably just don’t have much in common with these people. so that’s the value in lumping in the people you have a connection with with people you don’t really have one with?

to me, there’s only downsides. first, when you lump everyone together, you end up with a sort of cocktail party atmosphere where no one is themselves, just making small talk. you start to think more about the information you share and how it will be taken by various people. you’re more reserved. as a result you have this big social network that you can’t share anything with.

secondly, the network and what it represents starts to become more and more important in your life. you just have to update your status, share the latest thing you saw and review this nights dinner. that is, until a sobering thought enters your head: who cares? when deciding what you’re going to say in your review becomes more of a focal point than actually enjoying your meal, you’ve lost your way.

recently i read a great article about quitting facebook. for me, this paragraph, is particularly sobering:

In the end, what does all this online, arms-length self-promotion ultimately provide? Perhaps it’s merely one component of the pursuit to alleviate some of the blackness encountered in the existential vacuum of modern life. As Schopenhauer once projected, modern humans may be doomed to eternally vacillate between distress and boredom. For the vast majority of people experiencing the fragmented, fast-paced modern world of 2008, a Sunday pause at the end of a hectic week may cause them to become all too aware of the lack of content in their lives. So we update our online profiles and tell ourselves that we are reaching out.

to me, it seems like there’s a desire for some people to become an ‘influencer’ to swaths of random people. crazy. from my pov, that’s pretty narcissistic. but, i guess, it’s the wave of the future. everyone wants to be a brand.

i want to have a smaller number of quality relationships in my life, not increase the amount of transient relationships.