I'm A Rock

Oct. 3rd, 2012 11:36 pm
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[personal profile] vesicular
In WarGames there's the quote "the only winning move is not to play". I now feel that way about social media. Apparently the cardinal sin of social media is "unfollow" or "unfriend". I find this interesting for a couple of reasons.

One is that it's become equivalent to not caring about someone in real life. A simple virtual flag, cleverly named, now has a similar weight to turning your back on someone in real life. I find this a little weird and disconcerting.

Two, it's apparently better to never have friended than to friend and then defriend. Or, to friend and then ignore all (or most) posts. This I can somewhat see, as few people tell others in real life that they are boring to their faces. They smile, nod and bare it until they can find an excuse to remove themselves from the situation.

That said, #2 only makes sense if you assume #1. If, on the other hand, you see social media as a way to curate and pick and choose who and what you want to listen to whenever you'd like to in whatever way you want, and not some form of social construct, then #2 makes no sense either.

It's as if we as a society have never lived without social media. 5 years ago nobody was on it. The world worked fine and we found out about all the things that those we care about were doing. When did the real world and real relationships and real communication take a backseat to the virtual?

I gotta hand it to the companies that are making millions (billions?) off of all of this. They've tricked our psyches into believing all of this *really* matters. And I don't mean that it doesn't matter or have influence. But when how you view someone is dictated by their FB status or whether they follow you on Twitter, as opposed to how they are to you face to face, well, I tend to question it all.

If it's not obvious I've gotten lots of crap recently for removing people from my various social media sites. I don't see it as anything personal, I just want to use these sites in a different way after my month off the internet. That doesn't fly well.

I expected some of this. I got just as much (perhaps more) crap for wanting to take the time off in Sept in the first place. Many thought I was weird or dumb for wanting to do so. Nobody really understood the point or why I would want to do that. Most thought I must just like torturing myself.

But what I didn't expect was that nobody really seems to understand, at all, my viewpoint on this, even after the fact. I don't see following as being equal to actual friendship. I don't see companies taking advantage of human psychology to be a wonderful thing. I don't think the transition of physical social norms into the virtual world is a 1:1 relationship. I *do* think that everyone should use the internet in any way they see fit.

I think that last one is perhaps most to the point. The internet was created on freedom. Freedom of expression, creativity, you name it. It was a place where anything could go, and nobody could tell you what to do because you, finally, controlled a virtual world that you may not have been able to control in a physical one.

But more and more that has changed. There are now rules, expectations, norms, etc that go along with not only the way we use the internet but how we even *think* about it. I've always believed that the beauty of the internet was that there were no real rules, or expectations, or norms. That it was whatever *you* wanted it to be.

But times change, people change, companies profit, and you can't go backwards from here. Please don't get me wrong (and I think many people have). I do not begrudge anyone for feeling the way they do about these sites, or the companies for giving them to us, or the actual benefit they do provide (and they really do provide real benefit). All I'm saying is...it's not the only way.

I'm an experimenter. I like to fiddle. As I say, "when everyone else zigs, I flamingo". I realize that's a huge character flaw, but it's also feel it's one of my best traits. I want to believe the internet that I remember and know is still out there. But I'm beginning to have my doubts.