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.

National Buy a Book by a Black Author and Give it to Somebody Not Black Month.

This is an interesting interview with Carleen Brice. (Black Female Author of Mainstream/Literary)

I would love to see books treated as books. So if a book is women’s fiction, I’d love to see it marketed broadly to women, not only black women. What tends to happen is that my books and books like mine have to become popular with black audiences and then cross over. And it’s maddening! It’s maddening to see a book like The Help get marketed to all readers and a book like The Air Between Us get lost in the shuffle. Similar subject matter. One author is white; one is black. Is that the reason why one took off and one didn’t…? Probably not the only reason, but it’s hard to believe it’s not part of the reason. I’d love to see L.A. Banks’ vampire books shoot up the bestseller lists like Charlaine Harris’ books. I’d like to see HBO or some other channel turn them into a series like True Blood.

I’d love to see a white writer called “the new Pearl Cleage” or “the new Attica Locke” instead of always vice versa. I’d love to see book reviewers compare books by genre and subject matter instead of by authors’ ethnicity.

A list of 50 books on Indiebound from Carleen Brice (via The Rejectionist)

Now, I honestly couldn’t tell you the race of most of the authors I pick up. (A good bet is white male. I say this as a white female.) I decided to take a stroll through the 50 books she recommends. I’d love to say they all looked great, but they didn’t. Problem is, I just don’t read mainstream lit. I want genre books. So, if someone were to round up say 50 SciFi books by American Minority Authors, it might be more helpful to me.

Personal rec on this theme : The Temple of My Familiar by Alice Walker

Still the following did peak my interest. (At least so far as I’m putting it onto my books to read list. Which these days means from the library.)

Big Machine By Victor Lavalle

A collection of cool crafts

Howie Woo’s “Killer Crochet” (via Craft) – he does things like rayguns and bombs. They just happen to be made of yarn and huggable.

Crochet roses from Planet June

How to Press Oil Cloth from Oilcloth Addict

Pretty pillowcase pattern from Karlee Fuchs

Demystifying the Double Crochet Stitch from Kim Werker

Crochet cuffs from My Happy Little Life

Adorable well dressed crochet bunny from fuzzymitten

Make your own body cream from Lilith’s Apothecary

How to fuse plastic bags from Craft

Worm Composting Bin from Craft

Checkerboard Lace Scarf from The Purl Bee

Hexagonal Stacking Boxes from Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories

Develop Film with Coffee and Vitamin C from Photojojo

Coil Basket from plastic bags from The Lucky Ladybird Craft Site

Make your own glue from rice from No Plastic For A Year

Glass Photo Etching from Gold School

Make a Knife from a Cigarette from Boing Boing Gadgets

Horny Toad Roomba Cozy from Mamaquilla

Lace Mobius Cowl from Give me a purl!

Cooking Links Collection

There are some incredibly good cooks out there and they’ve got information for the rest of us. Me, I’m a fairly good cook, but I have a limited menu. This is how I’ve gone about expanding my abilities.

Squawkfox has two excellent tutorials. One is How to Cook Quinoa the other is How to Soak Dried Beans.

Gluten-Free Girl has an excellent website and I can’t wait for her new cookbook. I don’t have celiac, but I like recipes and she has several fascinating reads: How to Make Gluten Free Gravy – which even has a video, Lemon-Pecan Biscotti, Gluten and Dairy-Free Banana Cream Pie, Ginger-Molassas Cupcakes, Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies, Gluten Free Buttermilk Biscuits, and a complete Gluten-Free Thanksgiving.

There’s a lovely Stuff Grape Leaves recipe from The Dinner Files. Wish I could eat it, but I’m allergic to grapes. (Weird allergy of the week that one.)

And last, but not least, in Honor of Pi Day, Adventures in Ethics and Science has a Violet Custard Pie that just fascinates me.

Boycotting Chevron

Chevron has a disgusting human rights record. For a comprehensive review see The Chevron Pit.

I believe that the best way to put pressure on any company in the United States, is a combination of boycott and letter writing. A boycott of one person is ineffective. I am sure that I’m not alone in this decision. I tend to shop for my gas at Shell and BJ’s.

Texaco has been pissing me off for several months with their “discount for cash” program that leads to an artificially low price advertised on their stations. Now, I learn that Chevron gobbled up Texaco who started the destruction and abuse in Ecuador.

If Chevron had acknowledged the issue and taken appropriate action, I wouldn’t be here asking for people to look at the information and decide whether or not they really want to give money to a company that bribes officials, brandishes other countries’ military as “security”, turns a blind eye to forced conscription (ie: slavery) for the building of its infrastructure, and otherwise destroys humans as well as the environment.

I won’t be shopping at Chevron. I will be talking to my friends and family about the situation. I encourage you to read and review the available information and make your decision.

I’ve made mine.

Where the Wild Bentos Are

Anna the Red has a gorgeous Where the Wild Things are Bento on her site.

She’s an incredible artist who happens to work with food. I don’t think I could actually eat a lunch she’s made. It just looks so darned cute. She does everything from video games, to books, to everyday things. She also gives instructions. Someday, when I’m feeling ambitious, I’ll try an Alice in Wonderland themed lunch or three… wonder what I should make the Cheshire cat out of.

Urban Homesteading

A family of four living off of $30K a year by growing and selling their own crops in the middle of LA. It sounds like a kooky reality show or the set up for a sitcom.

Thing is, it’s real. If you click the title, you’ll go right to their blog.

Their “fields” are a fifth of an acre. They even grow edible flowers. They use solar power, compost, shop at thrift shops and dumpster dive for furniture.

I’d love to join them, at least a little bit. I admit that I’m addicted to my electronics. I am planning to get solar panels and at least a tankless water-heater. I want to grow some of my own veggies.

The problem? My HOA. Yes, the evil HOA. They’ve even banned compost bins. Um? Huh? No solar panels. No compost bins. I understand the don’t change your oil in your driveway. But why the Hell can’t I have solar panels on my roof? I’ll even get the nifty solar tiles that look just like shingles! So, my first step is to bring up a homeowner proposal to change those rules. Time to start the big fight with the narrowminded prigs that run the board. (At least we have some race diversity on the board. They seem surprisingly and disturbingly anti-environment though.)

I can and do shop in thrift and consignment shops for clothes now. I still have trouble resisting a good bookstore. And like I said, I’m not giving up my computer, iPod, and other nifty electronic toys. But, if I can run them off of solar energy, I’m all for it.