As a general rule, I don’t like Social Networking Sites. The basic structures they tend to be based around don’t suit me and I’ve always felt awkward with communicating in a scattershot way on the internet. Email and instant messaging I’m comfortable with, that is generally one on one communication, but this communicating with many at once always felt odd to me. In addition, the definition for relationships are very blurry in Social Networking Sites and hardly match up to my personal definitions for social interaction. Ultimately it seems that I need to spend more time getting used to these new ways of interacting as they just seem to be getting more plentiful.
The first thing that irks me about Social Networking Sits is they seem to be based around either a forum structure or a “profile where you tell the world all about yourself” structure. I’m really not comfortable in forums. Not because I don’t like discussing ideas. Not because people do anything specific to make me uncomfortable or feel unwelcome. It just feels weird talking to a bunch of people who I don’t know who they are. Also, it seems to be a virtual minefield for offending people. People in forums seem to write how they would talk, and of course all those subtle bits of body language that usually let you know someone is friendly or joking just do not come through. Then, suddenly people are getting very pissy about what one person said and if you read what they said one way, there isn’t a problem at all but if you read it another you can kind of see why someone is pissed. Of course, you don’t want to get in the middle of anything, because then the social politics are going to make you a pariah amongst some. So, I just end up sitting on the sidelines waiting for people to stop fighting and start talking about something I can get into. When, no one does I just bail on the site altogether.
When it comes to the profile ones, I just feel awkward. Do you really care what my favorite movies are? Do we really have that much in common if we both happened to like Blade Runner? I end up spending about an hour trying to list my favorite movies or books, etc. Partly because I’m trying to remember the names of half of them (I seem to have a good memory for everything but names). In addition, sites like MySpace feel like all the online dating sites I ever tried. It feels like I’m trying to sell myself. I hate selling. I’m not a salesman. I won’t lie to you about a dead hooker being the last occupant of the back seat of the Volvo you intend to buy from me, Sean the Used Car Salesman. I’ll probably even say something like: “You can’t even smell the dead girl anymore.” Because I’m not a salesman, and the thing I think I’m worst at is selling myself to an unknown mass of people who might stumble across a page filled with a bunch of “Hey, look at me, aren’t I a cool guy?” stuff. The second thing that irks me is that these sites are part of this weird very broad concept of what a friend is and it makes me uncomfortable. I have 2 friends. I have known both of these people for many years. After that, I have more people who fall under the “close acquaintance” title. Then there are “acquaintances.” Then there are “folks I know and don’t hate.” Then there are “folks I kind of know and don’t hate.” Then there are “folks I might have met once or twice and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t rather throw them into a vat of acid than shake their hand.” Then there are “others.”On Social Networking sites, though, everyone is my “friend.” Come on, am I really friends with William Shatner? Really? No, no I’m not. Our profiles are simply connected on MySpace. That’s it. I don’t know him, he doesn’t know me, and that is fine. But on MySpace we’re “friends.” It’s unsettling.
Also, people make”friends” with people from all the way on the other side of the globe on these sites. You know, people they may never see face-to-face. I have a hard time really processing that. Why would I talk at length with someone from San Francisco (or Mumbai, or Tallahasee, or Berlin, or wherever) I can’t just go out and have a couple of glasses of whiskey with on a Friday when I feel like getting unwinding after a long work week?
In addition, with the aid of modern technology, it is now possible for people especially for social media influencers to buy YouTube subscribers instantly. This allows them to build their network in a short span of time. As a result, they are able to get more benefits from it.
I don’t like these Social Networking Sites that are so popular with the kids these days, and though I’m on several (Tribe, MySpace, Friendster, Orkut, and Facebook) the only reason I’m active on the one I spend any length of time on is because I met local people on their who I hang out with on a pretty regular basis, it’s more like a place online to talk to people I spend a lot of my offline time with, and I don’t think that’s the point of these sites is it? I think I’m just not the right type of social person for these online environments. I think I need a software upgrade. With the advent of sites like Ning that allow anyone to build their own social networks it seems like there are only going to be more of these sites coming up as time goes on with more flexibility and more ways for me to not totally get how to interact with people online. None of it really seems to match up with how I socialize or how I deal with the world. Maybe that’s good. Maybe the way I deal with the world work. Then again, it’s also quite likely that I am shutting myself off to some really interesting possibilities. Perhaps I would enjoy exchanging the occasional message with someone from Mumbai or debating the finer points of recently released movies with someone from Tallahasee. Still, I would rather be able to head down to the bar or diner with them to argue this all face to face.