June 30, 2013


Tonight, a world-class gymnast from college updated his Facebook profile such that his profile picture was the Ka logo.

He was a Cirque employee for years, so I didn't think much of it.  But then I saw the news.

And then I thought about the concept of *news*.  And how the social media world has modified it.

I got the Ka news *before* it was well known.  In the same vein, I know more about random fish eggs laid by acquaintances from college's fish than I do about my own mother's day-to-day life.

So, I *heard* or at least was *notified* via my friend's social media actions that *something* newsworthy had happened in connection with Ka long before it made the mainstream media.

So there's that power.

And then, there's how I also know more about the specifics about people I sincerely care about, with whom I absolutely would have lost touch without social media, thanks to all of its pervasive ridiculousness.

The long distance connections are most definitely stronger thanks to social media.  But the question I have is about the short ones.  The sisters, the brothers, the parents, cousins, neighbors, and co-workers.   I think social media lets us ignore or at least pay less attention than we should to them.  And I think that's unfortunate.

A good college friend recently dropped off Facebook and I applauded her.  I also thought of my own experience, when I took a month off last year and found that if I wanted to be part of the modern tortoise community, I had no choice but to be on Facebook.  You heard -- you want a tortoise?  You'd better be on FB.  Otherwise, you are missing out.

Tonight, my sister and I spoke for the first time in entirely too long.  We caught up, and she mentioned that she may be deleting all pictures of her son from FB because she feels it should be his choice to make his own social networking record.  I told her I understood and would not be offended if she deleted the videos I'd uploaded.

And here I am.  In the middle.  Connected.  For better or worse.


Arvay said...

Social media deludes us into thinking that we are keeping in touch. but it's a delusion. You feel very intimate with someone when you know what they had for dessert last night. But you might not know that they have just been diagnosed with breast cancer. (Only an example)

Jen said...

I think social media is going to keep evolving into something that will truly be beneficial for a majority of people. Facebook won't be the end all, be all (I hope!). There are already some apps that are serving different purposes -- for instance, Path, which links together smaller communities of people. I've found it super useful to keep in touch with 5 close friends who don't usually post on FB or twitter, but don't have the time to call or chat (they are working moms).

bt said...

@Arvay -- I totally agree. The public narrative keeps us current, but only superficially so.

@Jen -- agreed. (Disclaimer, Path has been a client of mine.) I think Path has huge implications for truly keeping folks intimately in touch, but really, it all comes back to effort. You could set up weekly calls, or password-protected photo-sharing, or any number of things that create real, shared intimacy. It's just a question of not enough time and how to spend it.