Monday, January 23, 2012

Day 250: Anti-social media

Ah, duality!

Does that title mean being against social media? Or does it mean that media is anti-social?


Actually, I'm impressed with social media and have embraced it in a lot of ways. It's powerful. It can be a great marketing tool, it's done a lot to help people reconnect with friends from their past, it's convenient.

But the Internet, even with names attached, has a funny way of giving people a perceived permission to say/write things that they might not say in person. It's analogous to the way some meek folks get more aggressive behind the wheel of a car.

There's also an inability online to detect nuance, inflection, tone... the real personal cues that can only be deciphered by actual social contact as opposed to virtual social contact. A perfectly reasonable but alternative point rendered online can be taken as adversarial, when in fact it may be completely rational.

I'm tired of fighting these games.

One reason I've always liked the written word is its absolute-ness. If you write something the right way, it can attain perfection. And we all know there is little of that in the world. When something is written down, hopefully, the writer has considered what is meant to be expressed and it makes sense. Sometimes there is a place for "stream-of-consciousness" writing that is less considered and more just a brain-dump. The argument could be made that there is more honesty in that.

If someone writes something carefully, it's logical to assume that each word and the way they've been positioned is inherently manipulated for effect. Is that dishonest? It could be, because the sentences and paragraphs are constructed deliberately to convey a message. There is an agenda, and every word is enlisted to help the writer toward that agenda. The words are chosen to provide maximum support: in the previous sentence, I changed "enjoined" to "enlisted" because I thought enlisted was a better word. Why? Could it be that enlisted is a word more commonly associated with obtaining soldiers to support a battle?

One of the problems with social media is it actually tends more toward the verbal vomit of firing from the hip. So while you're getting a perhaps truer response, you're also getting an unfiltered response. I like that to some extent, but I've also found people get their feelings hurt (I have as well) and that can create a new set of unwanted problems.

It's all supposed to be communicating, and if we're all friends, we should all expect not only to get our feathers ruffled every so often but also to be able to shake it off after a while. Your results may vary.

I've dished it out, and I've taken it. I haven't liked all of it.

I briefly broke a social media connection recently because I had my feelings hurt. This person is unquestionably bright and interesting, albeit a little nutso at times. Part of this person's online persona is to be a little shocking and "out there." I like this person immensely although there are things I don't understand. But that's OK. Sometimes when you're around people who are very exceptional you want to be noticed, acknowledged. Everyone wants to be accepted, and even though having that recognition from others shouldn't be essential, you still want it. Right?

Maybe this is pathetic of me, but I've tried on many occasions to interact with this person in a way that communicates "Hey, I get it, I think you're cool, hey I saw this and thought you'd think it was cool. I'm cool too, right?" Something in that is embarrassing, that neediness to want some validation. But I don't think I'm alone in wanting that. Do YOU want it? You don't have to tell me, or anyone. But be honest with yourself: It feels nice to have someone respond to you.

Anyway, this was right in this person's wheelhouse: I sent something that I was sure would amuse and provoke and at the very least get a nod of appreciation.

But it got nothing at all. And it hurt. A lot. It was something carefully selected for this person, after a long time of watching from afar. I was sure it would resonate.

Nope. And I felt jilted. Spurned.

Is that lame of me? Maybe. But I wanted acceptance. And I didn't get it.

Sometimes it takes a while to get over something. There are some things in my life that I carry to this day. John, you piece of shit, you spat on my cool new coat when I was in 8th grade and it still makes me sad. And I still don't like you because of it. Paul, you ass, you and a circle of friends stole my glasses and taunted me and played keepaway.

Mike, at one time I was the jerk. I'm sorry. But you've never let me forget it, and now when you have the chance, you can't help but return the favor.

I am flawed. I'm working on being a better person. Right now, I don't think social media is helping me reach that goal. So I'm letting it go. If you need to reach me, you should be able to figure it out.

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