The Social Monster

For the longest time, Twitter was my new Titanic. You know, that monstrosity of a movie that everyone and their uncle has seen? Except me? Yeah. Never seen Titanic. Never want to see Titanic. Never will. I am going to hold out until the end of time, an abomination amongst other females of my generation for not having seen this epic love story featuring the most annoying song in the world.

Twitter was like that. Until today.

Today I broke down and created my very own Twitter feed (you can follow me, if you’re so inclined, by clicking on the handy dandy button to your right). I’m not entirely sure what it will do for me, if anything, but I decided to push aside my misgivings and just do it.

See, I have a thing about social media. It’s a monster. It’s used in place of friendships and in person networking so much of the time that I think people have forgotten how to communicate face to face (or at least over the phone). It’s like people who lament the loss of letter writing. Social etiquette has been thrown by the wayside because of the lack of interaction unaided by technology.

I Facebook. I’ve MySpaced. Tumblr and Pinterest baffle me. I’ve often said Twitter is pointless, and despite my newly created feed, I’ll probably continue to say that, even as I bombard my followers with 140 character zingers full of my stinging wit. Then you’ve got BookBlogs, WANATribe, SheWrites, Tribrr, and various Yahoo! Groups and other online forums. A person could feasibly spend their entire life locked in a room with a computer and an Internet connection and never once consider they might be lonely.

To an extent, it serves a purpose. I’ll forever be grateful to Facebook for putting me back in touch with my college roommate, one of the most awesome people I know. And I’m often a horrible friend, preferring to spend my time away from work with a book, or the BF, or something that doesn’t involve other people (customer service will turn you into a recluse if you’re not careful), so Google +, Facebook, texting, and emails serve to keep me up to date with what’s going on. My girlfriends and I can’t plan a day of shopping without an email chain at least ten emails long. Our longest? Twenty two. Twenty two emails to figure out a day, time, and location to see a movie.

But when you start using social media as a replacement for one on one contact, you’ve got a problem.

I can already picture a world where all of our interactions are limited to those manufactured by technology. There’s a scene from the Woody Allen movie Sleeper where Miles (Allen) is shocked to learn people no longer engage in actual sex. There’s this weird machine two people step into and bam, 30 second later they walk out feeling all loose and languid, exactly like they would if they’d had hot monkey sex. In my paranoid mind, this is totally possible. There are more than likely a large number of people who would be initially disappointed and probably angry at this invention, but they’d eventually get used to it and wonder why they put up such a fuss in the first place.

One of the things I’ve always found amusing about my job is there is a group of retirees that, we swear, sit around in their coffee shops and diners and discuss their retirement benefits with each other, trying to understand why so-and-so got this but they didn’t. Then they call us. What’s really funny? The client providing those benefits is very much aware that this group is doing this.

I want a group like that. Instead of hiding behind keyboards, I want people to go out. Meet people. Talk. Social media can be a great way to start, but it needs to go beyond that. It shouldn’t be a replacement. We shouldn’t be afraid, or apathetic, about getting together with people who share similar interests. It’s what will keep us from turning into automatons.

Anyone up for a drink?

2 thoughts on “The Social Monster

  1. Pardon me while I tweet a link to this post.
    ~
    There, I’m back. I think that while Twitter is fun, the key lies with the operator. If you get up and walk away from the computer, you won’t get sucked in. Of course, you won’t know what you’re missing, either…
    😉

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