Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Social Networks

Social Networks help everyone connect. I use one everyday: Twitter.

I mean, I've used just about all of them at one point. It took me a little while to realize it, but using Facebook and MySpace always made me angry. I would walk about from the experience sour and annoyed. I didn't realize it was Facebook/MySpace and I didn't know why once I found out.

Even once I stopped using either site, I still took about a year to realize why I got so upset; I just didn't care. I didn't care about all of these people. It's not that I didn't like talking to all of them. For a long time I enjoyed the company of the vast majority of the people who friended me on Facebook. 

I just didn't care about their lives. I didn't want to see their pictures or hear about their parties. I didn't want to read their ideas, thoughts, and issues. Reading their status updates bothered me, seeing their pictures was annoying. I was learning far too much about them, and frankly they knew too much about me.

Before too long, I started to dislike all of my 'friends.' They were boring, inactive, and annoying. Their lives were samey, repetitious, and unexciting. The hundreds of useless photos they uploaded of the same parties were uninteresting and terrible. So I unfriended the vast majority, until I had about 17 friends on Facebook, all the way from about 270. Even then, most of them had done the intelligent thing of just not using Facebook that much, so the social interaction was limited.
Only recently I realized from what I wanted from Social Networks: meaningful interaction and conversations. Of course one of the answers is to just do that in meat space, but that's not always possible and the delay with Social Networking is useful, both because we can't always communicate effectively through meatspace and it gives us time to think about what we've said and what others have said.
Facebook, as anyone could agree, is not a field of intelligent interaction. The Internet in general is sparse in just that. It wasn't just that, the lack of meaningful conversations. Facebook is perceived as a playground, it's not meant to represent real life forum. It wasn't even supposed to represent conversation. It just wasn't what I wanted, at all.

So I turned to Twitter. Of course, anyone would say that twitter is just as terrible as Facebook, maybe even worse so because everything is lost so easily. You might argue that Facebook is really good at organizing things: friends, family, photos, events. I would agree. Facebook is good at all of that, it's just that I don't at all care about that.

Twitter does represent real life nicely. Everything is quick, fast passing, and momentary. Any pictures on Twitter aren't of parties or people drinking stupidly. Most tweets aren't status updates, but a mix of real-life issues, jokes, and opinion. Using Twitter is sort of like hanging out. It doesn't need a good conversation, but it does happen a lot anyway. It might be silly sometimes, but so is everything else. 

Twitter also means you can have someone see what you want to share and never see what they say. That's probably the greatest thing: being able to ignore other people easily.

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