Saturday, July 23, 2011

If it bothers you that much..

For me, the internet is a playground - a source of entertainment. I can connect with people who live far away. I can find amusing videos. I can read blogs. I can read the news. I can check the weather and find addresses and directions. You know that lost piece of information? The one about that one actor who was in the movie with the other guy? I can find that too. I have 4 email accounts. I have a Facebook account. I have a blog. I have Google Reader packed with stuff to read all day long. I love the internet and I don't know what I would do without it.

Lately, it seems that many people are finding the internet more of a burden than a pleasure. I've seen countless posts complaining about Facebook. I've seen lots of remarks about the pros and cons of Twitter. I've seen people agonizing over the "direction" of their blogs, and complaints about the "branding" that others are doing. And here's what it comes down to - people seem to have a certain level of expectations from the activities in which they participate on the internet. When those expectations are not met, they get upset about it.

Let's take email to start. In Jennifer's Head recently wrote Oh Compulsive Email Forwarder . I love her take on this. I have an email forwarder (or several) in my life. For me, it's a good way to know people are still alive. (I used to be a fairly prolific correspondent, but for every letter I sent out, I got zero in return.) I think forwarding jokes and warnings and such was a kind of rite of passage when you got an email account in years past. But there are those who find the forwarded joke a huge imposition. A friend of mine used to share her email account with her partner. Her partner (who is generally irritable anyway) blocked my email address because she felt I was forwarding too many jokes. Rather than requesting that I not forward things to her, she blocked communication between my friend and me. It's just email - the deletion of an email requires a click or two of the mouse. To get offended by it seems like an extreme reaction, which I don't really understand. In Jennifer's Head's post seems like my sort of reaction - a slightly sarcastic, mild rant laced with affection. Perfect.

And then there's Facebook. I love Facebook - it's a useless timewaster containing all sorts of entertainment in one place. I rarely update - most of the things you see on my wall are game results or requests. I post some pictures sometimes. I comment on others' posts all the time. I don't know much about the origins of Facebook (and I didn't see the movie). Based on my memory of the thought processes I had while in college, I doubt Facebook was meant to be taken as seriously as people take it today. I suspect it was supposed to be a way to find the parties on campus. It has morphed into a giant entity with so many facets...and for each facet I've found someone who finds it irritating. Post a status update complaining about anything? Someone will complain about it. Post a photo? You're either bragging or gloating or stupidly posting something inappropriate. Don't talk about your faith or lack thereof - it's offensive. Don't talk about your political preferences - it's offensive. Don't do anything that anyone else might disagree with - you'll be reviled. I'm not talking about STFU Parents or Failbook because those are snark, and snark is appreciated. But I can't think of a blog I've read that mentions Facebook that doesn't mention how the author hates it (OK, maybe one). I understand that it's venting, but I really haven't seen one person post about how they love facebook. I've never seen anyone post about how they love to play Farmville. I've never seen anyone post about how they like to see what people they don't see in person are doing. So here's me saying I love Bejewelled Blitz - especially when I can beat my sisters. I love arguing politics with the guy from high school who used to ride the same bus. I hate that one of my best childhood friends holds such wacky political beliefs but am thankful that I can watch her son grow up from afar. And for the rest of's facebook. Please. Take it for what it's worth. Better yet, take it for what you pay for it. Whatever you do, don't take it so personally. And let me know if you play Gardens of Time - I need more neighbors. :)

Twitter is something that I really can't get into. It sounds attractive to a certain extent. It would be something to do with all the "Is it really necessary to block me in traffic EVERY morning, Mr. Plumber truck?" irritation I have. But all the angst over follower numbers, and the idea of sorting out hundreds of tweets a day, and the prevalence of marketing and spam all conspires to turn me off. I appreciate the quotes that I've read, but it seems like there is very little meat to Twitter. Or maybe there is very little wheat but bucketloads of chaff. And then I see that some people may not respond to comments, but do respond to tweets. That's when I think that Twitter is probably better than anything for establishing friendships, because it's much more like having a conversation. But in contrast, there's the opposite of relationship building, and so I stay away.

On to blogs. I'm not much of a blogger. I don't have that much to say, because I am unable to put my emotions on display. I would probably be better on Twitter, where my commentary would be limited. But for those days like today, when I want to go on and on, I love my blog. I love reading blogs. There's fascinating information, funny stories, giveaways, insights into other people and their lives - it's a gold mine...with veins of crap, sure, but there is so much good stuff out there. I feel honored that anyone reads anything I write, and my days would be completely boring if I didn't have so much stuff to read. (I suppose I could work harder, but what fun would that be?) Here's the thing about blogs, though - there seems to be a huge internal conflict among American bloggers. They want to be taken seriously. They want readership. They would really like to make some money from writing. But they don't want to be seen as commercial. I've seen articles from 3 Ways to Drive Blog Traffic From Major News Events (subject matter obvious) to Five Hundred and One (where the author is getting traffic but still feels unnoticed). I see laments about the sidetracking of blogging in favor of other social media. I think the thing that bothers me most, though, is what I perceive as jealousy of the bloggers who have "made it." I see people commenting about how those bloggers are all about their brand and promoting themselves. I'm sorry, but aside from a very few instances, every blog I've seen has been promoting the writer in some form. Fortunately, there are a few people out there, like this one and this one (had to link to that particular post because it's great), and even this one (her other blogs are not as selfless, thus the "even") who are trying to promote more than themselves. They try to promote community and education and connections between people. People like this show their support in tangible ways. So to the jealous ones, or the ones worried about their brand, I say take a look at what these people do. Brand is not as important as making your blog something admirable. Most of the people I read have that quality - I hope they can eventually take over the internet. And if they strike it rich in the meantime, more power to them.

To anyone who finds social media so oppressive, please be realistic in your expectations. You'll be much less irritated, and then maybe you can behold the internet in wide-eyed wonder again.

And if you'll excuse me, I have to go search for the best way to transfer 8mm film to video - eHow can tell me how, and eBay can probably provide me with discounted tools.


  1. Terrific post, A! Especially your ending ;-)

    I always appreciate you as a commenter. When any of my posts are lonely, I know that at least A will come over and make me feel like I'm not blogging into the abyss.

    For this and many reasons, you make the Internet a better place.

  2. I wondered why you didn't write more. It's always so interesting when you do. And of course you are a great commenter. I look forward to hearing what you think.

  3. OK now, this was brilliant. And very thought-provoking. My thoughts are much provoked, indeed, I might have to go and blog.

    And I enthusiastically second Lavender Luz and AntropĆ³loga. You are the ace-est of commentators.

  4. I've been enjoying a lot of the recent commentary on social networking. I think why many people get frustrated about it is that Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc are all used in different ways by different people. When you form a relationship with someone through one of those mediums and your *view* about how those mediums are used clash, there is bound to be some developed annoyance with that medium. I have more food for thought. Loved your views on the topic.

  5. I fear I am one of those moaners having removed myself from facebook several years ago, twitter I have a fairly desultory relationship.

    But blogging, I love blogging.

    I'll not make money from it and whilst I could selflessly claim to be 'reaching out to other infertiles' of course there is the whole vanity bound up in it. The arrogance to believe that others would want to read about my vagina.

    And as above, you rock with commenting - amybe that is your twitter.

  6. I do lament what I feel is my inability to brand or promote my blog until I realistically stand back and realize I don't have the time, nor do I want to make the time, to turn my blog into something more.

    I've been envious of others who have done it because after the fact I felt they only used my connection to others to advance their standings. But again, they took the initiative and if I fell into the scheme, then I'm the one to blame.

    I should be thankful. It provides me with more FB and blog fodder, right?

  7. Good post, lots of interesting ideas.

    I too do not have patience for the whiners --- I love to blog and read blogs, and have no patience for the "I don't know what to blog about, I want more readers" type posts.

    I am newer to Twitter and it is a fun diversion. Is in the moment so feels like a sense of community to me.

  8. I have become fond of twitter, but only now that I have a phone I can do it from. I have mostly blog/infertal friends on it (about 70%) that I have a different type of relationship with then people on my facebook. It's odd. But, my husband hates it. He doesn't have a a facebook or twitter... probably because of the time I spend on it! :P

  9. You could have pulled this right out of my brain.

    I love Facebook. Best time waster ever. I check it from my phone before I get out of bed (literally as soon as I snooze my alarm) because it's the one thing to guarantee I won't fall back asleep straight away!

    I have had a love affair with the internet since my first (almost 10 year old) son was born. It was my only company as a single mother - I would spend all my sleepless nights on my dial up connection making connections with people.

    (and I too don't "get" twitter. I opened an account but when I didn't "get it" right away...I never went back!)

  10. I couldn't agree more. I find that the people who annoy me on Facebook are the same people who annoy me in real life, so it's not really a surprise. I just try to ignore it. As for Twitter and blogging, I tend to only follow/read people whose writing I really like, so I just unfollow anyone who bugs me. Because I don't want to be that person complaining about it. It's my choice to read or not, so it's not really fair to criticize how someone else uses their social media.

  11. Love. this. post. I too am one of those people who wish you'd post more often because when you do, it's often funny or thought-provoking. Or both.

    And for the record, I am also one who likes Facebook. I like it for 10 minutes a day. I like running for 30 minutes a day. Which doesn't mean that I like running three times as much as Facebook. Those times are just the luck of the draw.

  12. Love this post! Bottom line is to let whatever works for us at the time with the internet playground is what we should enjoy. Forget complaining about any of it, if we aren't interested in that particular thing then don't go there!

  13. Amen! I loooovey loooove my internet and FB, although I never got into twitter. I love checking out stuff on Etsy, reading blogs, looking up dead relatives on genealogy websites...whatever. It's all good :)

    I was totally addicted to Farmville, then I let my kid play, and he kept clicking on the ads in the sidebar and I got a load of viruses. I haven't played much stuff since. Gardens of Time any good? I'll have to check it out :)

  14. wow. hmmm....i really never noticed that people don't mention how much they LOVE facebook or twitter. That's an interesting thought. I don't get on FB as much as I used to because I can't bear one more "Love is grand" or "Should I or shouldn't I?" status update.

    I find that diff forms of social media are my connection to the outside world because I often feel so awkward in real life. But, I do notice the intense about of competition and bad blood that happens because of these diff social media platforms.

    I always enjoy your posts. I always think you have something interesting or important to say.

  15. You rock as a blog buddy--I appreciate the interaction on my blog and I always look forward to seeing your posts pop up in my reader!

    FB is hot and cold with me, and while I am a twitter fan, sometimes I feel like that has taken away from blogging/commenting and that makes me sad.

  16. I love your post! Absolutely!

    "And let me know if you play Gardens of Time - I need more neighbors. :)"

    I don't play it, but Mrs. Gamgee does, and she sent me the app request which I did not use...maybe you could send her a request for it?

    I loved Farmville. I played it obsessively, till I found myself ignoring my work to plant, harvest or clean my farm.

    I can say it out loud - I played Farmville and loved it like nuts, but I am not on it anymore. And you won't believe that there are certain people who became my friends on FB via my FB/FV buddies because they needed neighbours, and we are still friends there, even though I am no longer playing.

    I am into twitter too, but not very scrupulous about it at all.

  17. I'm glad that all came through in my post. I find no reason to get offended by all the stuff out there. I can block the facebook games if I don't want to see the updates. And I can delete email. At least I know she is still around.

  18. I put my hand up as one of those "unsure about direction of blog" kind of people, but I also think that's about time. People change over time, so does our writing.

    Social media can be complained about or, what you state and what I agree with wholeheartedly, is that it shouldn't be taken so seriously. On the flip side, don't write something on there you wouldn't want all of your contacts to read. It's about keeping in touch and seeing your friends' lives, not about sparking internet-wide controversy.

    I read here. I rarely comment, which makes me rubbish. Like many of the others, I have to say you really do give good comment.

  19. Apologies, A ... I really do need to get myself a "big girl" reader. I've just been using the "reader" on my Blogger dashboard and it's a total slipstream. If you aren't there when I dip into it ... even if I scroll down a bit ... I miss.

    Such a great point you make about expectations in social media.

    I have been noticing (how can you not?) the big segment of the blogging culture that is aspiring toward "legitimacy" and blogger-as-professional a lot lately. If I read another post navelgazing about the term 'mommy blogger', just to name one bloggercentric topic, and what it does or doesn't mean, I'm going to have to put my eyes out with a fork (I tweeted that very comment not long ago). When bloggers get too preoccupied with the trappings (and I know this is obvious to all of us) ... their blogs lose most if not all of the qualities that attract me to blogs in the first place. Everyone knows the best blogs tend to be the ones where the ~attention~ they receive is secondary to the point/purpose of the blog.

    I'm not the least bit jealous of successful bloggers -- I'm happy for the ones that I love. For another thing, that's not what I'm looking for out of blogging.
    I guess what I am looking for are community connections ... a sort of long-format message board for people who relate well to each other, who like to write and read what other write and who can inspire and support eachother.

    "trying to promote more than themselves. They try to promote community and education and connections between people."
    Bingo. That's part of what I'd like to do with my new blog.

    There is something about ... publishing on the web ... the soap box potential that we never had before ... that lets people appropriate credentials and makes us all a little giddy at times ... I write therefore I am "A Writer." And this isn't limited to writing. People with no formal training or background in ... say ... photography ... getting excited about their new, expensive digital camera ... and they make a website and publish a few photos and hang a virtual shingle ... and suddenly they are "A Photographer." Suddenly anyone with a creative impulse can elevate their noodling. More power to ya. If it makes you happy, it's all good. But it also makes for a lot of noise that is way beside the point. It's good, as you say, to remember to filter the noise and focus on the good stuff.

    "They would really like to make some money from writing. But they don't want to be seen as commercial."

    EH. Sorry. Cake+Eat It Too = That dog don't hunt.

    FB, IMO, has a good side and a bad side. I just think that the 'bad side' is the very same bad side you can find in all social areanas. At the end of the day, how upset you get about that bad side says more about you than about anyone else. I constantly remind myself of that.

    Twitter ... I go in spurts with it. Sometimes on, sometimes I neglect it for months. Which is really not the way to use it. And it's another "slipstream" ... how fun it is depends on how many people are actually on in time to catch you using it. NTM ... the website is twitchy and that is annoying.

    I totally agree with you about compulsive forwarders. My favorite uncle is one ... caused a flap with my dad when he forwarded a lot of conservative emails a while back ... which my father enjoys talking back to (see my comments about the downside of FB ... manners and the big picture, please). He still forwards a lot of stuff (I think he's laid off the politics). But I mostly just see the spam (which I delete more than I read) as a reassuring little heartbeat in my inbox telling me that he is chugging along, 10 hours away from where we live.