I met some 20 year olds last year that explained that they don’t email anymore, they just I.M. on Facebook. I dismissed it as weird and generational, but as the page turns I have just sent my mother a video message via facebook!! What’s up?It was easier than typing and I got to show her my new haircut.But now here’s the obvious problem….can anyone now go and watch my clumsy 15 second ‘letter to mom’ and then comment on my haircut?? Is there any privacy on Facebook?How many of us turn our webcams away when we aren’t positive they aren’t beaming our quiet moments to the world??
Today it’s all the rage, perhaps I am a year (or generation) late in arriving, but all of a sudden I am considering making Facebook my home page. Everyday I’m learning 25 things I didn’t know about people I didn’t know. Once in a while there is something insightful, something I’m embarrassed to know, or an item worth repeating, but for the most part it’s drivel, but we’d all freeze up when asked for just three things, wouldn’t we?What about One Word?At least that one only takes a few minutes.
This is all the chain mail of our times, less postage, but oh so more prevalent, at least we are all equipped with an “ignore” option.
I am nonetheless enjoying Facebook, but I still don’t understand it. I don’t know what is front porch and what is bedroom. I’m not sure I can have a private conversation anywhere, if you are my “friend” do you have the backstage pass? It feels like an email until someone you barely know comments on it. As a replacement to email, it solves a problem that we never had, it let’s the message become even shorter. Do you know what Twitter is? I tried it during the inauguration but my post was too long, on Twitter you are limited to grammatically incorrect phrases of less than 140 words?!?The idea is a potent substance to character ratio, but I was challenged to find any substance there. WTF, is about as efficient as I can get. I’m not sure that we, as a literary people, need the less is more approach to communication; it certainly hasn’t done much for the past 8 years.
I think of myself as one of few words (as I ramble on about fewer words) and remember being taught by my dad to reduce each idea and sentence to as few words as possible. He was teaching me to write, efficiently and to captivate. Keeping sentences “short enough” is an interesting challenge and the virtual stationary of Facebook and Twitter is helping reduce our vocabulary to grunts and groans that can be hammered out on the incredibly un-clumsy face of an iphone.
But you (as Max Tivoli would say) dear reader, if you are still with me, enjoy this shrinking world as much as I do. We don’t wait for the postman to ring twice, we just check email, several times a day in my case. Time zones are crushed into the ether, I love you’s and what am I doing right now’s, thrown around the world in the time it takes to ‘right-click’. We all speak some sort of shorthand, lol’s, IMHO, and smiley faces, intending to communicate complicated emotions.
I don’t imagine “emoticon” is in the dictionary yet, but we all know one when we see one, and we all save keystrokes by speaking in the rhythm of our times. I’m not complaining exactly, and I just might make my home page Facebook yet. I feel a self imposed lack of privacy, but I live on another continent than most of you, so a lack of privacy is OK for now. “Social Networking” is a wonderful tool. I have found lost friends, buried within my “contacts” folder, I have been reconnected with people truly dear to me, I have missed heartbeats at being contacted by friends I remember only from darkened rooms, and foreign climes. Instantly I have access to every public thought they have shared, every picture posted, and I now know who their friends are. I have pictures of their children and I know what movies they like…ROTF….profoundly reconnected…who could complain?These are distant voices from previous lives, residing in evolved bodies… new datelines….so much spilt milk…so much lemonade…so many apps to reconnect us without postage…or lost regrets.
Suddenly we’ve been provided a tool which excuses the missed connections and unintentional absences we used to think of as inevitable. Like so much else, I’m glad I am old enough to have missed this in my turbulent adolescence, imagine the intensity of high school with Facebook!? Compare would have killed me! Perhaps we could explain this as “efficient socializing” but I’m happy to belong to an époque of slow food and proper sentence structure. Blogging is barely an old fashioned medium, only when compared to tweeting and poking, and it’s archival value is unknown. We try to find a place for each level of communication, we seldom call, we almost never write, emails have, however, drawn us all closer. I.M. and Facebook therefore have put us into the same room.I wonder if it’s all a fleeting thing. By the time I figure out how to make it my homepage, it’ll be yesterdays tech and we’ll all be marveling at the next tulip craze!
In the meantime… if I send you anything you wish you didn’t know, poke me!