I wrote a while back about the way social media is bringing us closer together (The New Telepathy of Social Networking), but of late I’ve been also pondering the ways that technology is boxing us in. And I’m not even talking about how World of Warcraft has reduced the actual world of thousands of people to an area about the size of their butt, with an orbiting satellite the size of the fridge.
When I went to see Bruce Springsteen a few months ago, people in the crowd were standing there texting while the sheer experience was roaring around them. Type type type…”At Bruce Springsteen show. Great stuff. Photos to follow…” Then they look up only to look at Springsteen through the device. The gadget is now a lens they need to even look at the world.
I always had that problem even with a camera, well before the advent of all these cool toys. I lived in Europe for three years, bought a pretty good SLR 35mm camera, took three or four rolls of film worth of pictures the whole time I was there. I just don’t like having a camera with me, urging me to use it, making me look for good shots rather than just seeing the world all around me.
Now, my cell phone is a great little camera, and if I use it twice in a year, call Guinness Book. But at least I’ll have it with me if I see Bigfoot.
And check out this poor soul:
These people just trekked for five days to reach the summit of Mount Toubkal in Morocco, the highest mountain in North Africa. Three of them are exhilarated, taking in the splendor. The other is playing her Nintendo DS. Maybe this’ll count as a high score.
Since getting into social media like Facebook and Twitter, I’ve had surges of activity broken up by periods I just didn’t want to bother to get online, and felt like I was failing to get to something I needed to do. Not in an addictive sense, but in the sense that I was letting folks down by not being “there” for them, wherever “there” is. And that I was losing ground in the professional sense because those inactive days I wasn’t working to increase my web presence and thus, hopefully, make more people aware of my book.
No more. I’m going to ease up on myself. I may not be one of the pithy geniuses who stitch their whole day together with witty tweets that are very engaging to read, but I’m not one of the folks who tells you I need a good shampooing and am eating a Nilla Wafer, either.
I’ll tweet when I have something to say. Which, really, is what everyone should do. I won’t go through my day looking for things to tweet about, or trying to figure out how to condense everything I do into 140 character summaries.
I’ll continue to blog as I’m inspired to do so, which has been my actual approach anyway, in spite of vague plans to blog on some kind of regular schedule.
And Facebook will be a place I check in a couple of times a day to see what my friends are up to, not a place I hang out in to make sure to catch the occasional status update that may tell me something useful or make me laugh.
I have books to write. Vistas to see. A splinter of a social life, a real social life, I desperately need to nurture back into something vital and whole. The social networking can help me with these things, but I have to make sure it doesn’t replace those things.