Social Media and the Loss of Social Connection

Sannion cries “Death to Social Media” in part because “Every day I look out on a world grown stupider, crasser, less concerned with others, less aware of the higher imaginative realms.”

In measured response, The Internet is a Magickal Tool… So why are so many people stabbing themselves or others with it? author Pax feels “Through the blogosphere and the Podkin and, yes, even through Facebook…. I have been blessed to make friends and connections with likeminded souls.”

I wish I could be more even handed about this, but well, I agree with Sannion. Facebook facilitates my connection to a handful of people to whom I find myself unable or unwilling to contact via regular email. Beyond that? Facebook is a place to play time-sucking games that constantly request the ability to contact my friends, overwhelm my feed and require me to recruit people into the gang. (I’ve abandoned several games because they *require* me to badger other people into playing.

Despite the fact that this blog is primarily books and politics right now, I do spend a significant portion of my on-line time playing games. The “social media” frenzy has made this less and less enjoyable. First it was the infiltration of chat programs. Happily enough, in most of the games I play, I don’t have to turn that function on. Then, the gaming sites started asking me to make friends with other players. Sorry, cousins, I’m mostly an introvert. I don’t play games to *make friends*. I play games to *play games*.

Then, after Zynga started to make a killing with the addictive Farmville and Cafe Worlds and at this point so many ‘villes that I started turning them off and removing myself from the possibilities of playing them, the game sites started implying that if I didn’t want to be “cooperative” and “helpful” and “social” (re: extroverted), then I wasn’t “playing”. Excuse me? You want me to pay for the privilege of being pestered by people I barely know and being forced to chat and buy points or friends in order to keep playing.

Let’s be perfectly honest here, I played one FB game that led me to a group of other players who became “friends” with one another *strictly* so that they could get more people in their “gang”. This is not friendship. This is mercenary coalition.

But this wasn’t meant to be a rant about the state of social gaming. It was more a discussion of social media.

I wish I found it more enjoyable.

I write this blog, with the intent of bringing content I enjoy into being. For the majority of its existence, it has had one consistent follower. That would be my best friend, who watches to see if there’s an interesting book or video. This is a personal space, rather than someplace like Boing Boing which has an overwhelming number of comments on each post.

You will probably never find an exchange of more than one or two comments on here. And I’m okay with that. This was not an experiment in community building.

On Facebook, you won’t find me discussing the way I feel or what I’m up to this weekend or what I had for lunch. Occasionally, you’ll find a link to something interesting. Occasionally, I’ll comment on something on a friend’s feed. It is how I discovered one person was going in for surgery. And it’s how I keep loose track of people’s lives. But, if I’m actually interested in talking to them? Nine times out of ten, I’ll write a letter.

You remember those funny things that show up in the mail box on actual wood pulp? Yeah. Letters. Sent through the post office. I’m obviously a freak.

I hate Twitter.

Hate it.

I have an account. I follow some 30 people. I care about 2 of them. My posts end up some weird sort of 140 character haiku. The idea of having my conversations in public makes me cringe. I never liked public chat rooms. I barely remember to check my feed and when I do, I normally end up “unfollowing” someone because I’ve just discovered that I really don’t give a damn about what they have to say.

I have a tumblr account too. I have for years. Do I use it? Nope. Not once.

Do I find people generally rude in comments? Not on this blog. *grins* On other blogs? No doubt. There are some places that reading comments just makes me want to scream. Then, I want to take people into the back room and explain to them the concepts of decency and appropriate public behavior.

The level of rudeness and stupidity that I find in comments and on social sites drives me up the wall.

I’m not socially inept. In fact, that’s my biggest handicap. I have *standards* when I socially interact with people. I have *boundaries* in my personal life.

If I didn’t, perhaps I’d be happier with finding out that the baby just pooped green or spew out rants on random blogs.

As it is? I think before I write. I reread what I’ve written. And I don’t plaster my private conversations across public forums. That’s the only way I can think of to combat rudeness. Don’t be rude. Don’t escalate arguments. Don’t repeat gossip.

In summary:

Pax, congratulations on finding a community you feel you can relate to and become a part of. I wish I had a similar experience.

Siannon, I feel your pain and understand your frustrations.

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3 comments on “Social Media and the Loss of Social Connection

  1. Pax says:

    GG,

    Thanks for you congratulations!

    I just really don’t get that into the online gaming… I’m an old school table-top rpg geek myself, and bookish…. although Pirates and Civilization can absorb me for a while too…

    On the one hand you seem to have found your digital comfort zone or way of being, on the other your response to both my and Sannion’s pieces suggests your contemplating your digital way of being.

    Good on you for living an examined life digitally and otherwise!

    For me, online, its blogs and chat and social stuff for me – partly because of wildly odd hours at work-. For me I made the choice to start focusing on those connections and conversations which feed and nourish my soul, on sharing information I found vital, and trying not to add to the fear and anger quotient in the world… because I see so much anger and fear and incivility in the ways in which people communicate in today.

    Peace,
    Pax

    • wedschild says:

      Pax.

      You’re quite welcome. I’m very pleased for you.

      You know, I never did get into table-top gaming although I had a friend who was into it. It might have something to do with playing in arcades and having an Atari controller in my hands when I was six. Digital’s always been my thing. It’s what I grew up with and I don’t think those habits ever truly fade away.

      I do my best to reduce my discomfort. (Not reading a lot of comments or getting into shouting matches.) And I have been examining my beliefs and my prejudices quite heavily lately. I don’t want to be what I dislike in others. On-line or off-line. Which, I think, might play into the idea of focus you have on not sharing anger and fear. Or at least not multiplying those things.

      I find your blog to be a place where you are incredibly brave and forthcoming about your struggles and the emotions. Even without details, I can understand emotions. Psychologists call it “doing the work.” I see you doing your work every day.

      Thanks for visiting and continuing the conversation.

  2. Wedschild,

    A word from experience on comments sections, do read them, just do not respond to the trolls… ignore them and reply to and encourage the words of wisdom and thoughtfulness… it can be a tough time of it given that if you don’t pay attention to them but are active in the conversations and encouraging words of wisdom and thoughtfullness then eventually the trolls start snapping and snarling at you… but it is worth it and one way I have found friends and community online…

    And your words about “doing the work”, they have been percolating in my brain… may stir a blog post on the topic soon.

    Peace,
    Pax

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