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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Moment in time - The modern social networks

A thought from the veranda.

Have you ever stopped at a stoplight, looked over at the car next to you, wondering: who are they, do they live close, are they a neighbor, are they happy or are they in crisis, where are they going? What is their story?  Then the driver of the other car turns their head, looks you in the eye; a moment of recognition passes between you, there is, just briefly, an electrical current that connects you. The light changes and both cars move through the light. It is not likely that you will ever meet that person; you will never know the answers to your questions, but you will know their face, remembering always that very brief moment of connection.

Through this blog I have met many people; they visit me and from time to time make nice comments. In exchange, I go to their blog. I gain access to their hopes and dreams, their personal problems, many thoughts and perspectives. It feels that you know them. There are sometimes many exchanges of thoughts and feelings. They become your friend. Often you don’t see a real face. There is never an electrical current but often a mental one seems to be felt. Then they stop coming by. They stop commenting. Their life and interests have taken them elsewhere, to other brief exchanges of thoughts and perspectives.  Fleeting, friendships in transit; some fade quickly and some you remember several years later, feeling their loss; feeling ‘saudade’ as they say here in Brasil.

Now Facebook has emerged.  I wanted to see what all the fervor was about so I signed up. The program immediately searches your private contacts, email addresses in outlook and contacts on Skype, and says, “Ask them to be your friend”. I did, and I have to admit that I like the ‘contact’ with all my family. Through Facebook, I now see brief glimpses into the lives of nephews and nieces. I see photos of their daily activities, of their children. I hear how they feel on any given day, and in a very remote way can feel connected. I joined a group called ‘growing up in Adrian’, a discussion group that asks, ‘Do you remember when / who / what?’ I don’t, but it was fun for a while to follow, and in a remote way feel connected.  I found a few people known from the blog comments, and added them as ‘friends’ and now see them talk back and forth with their friends and family, people I don’t and will never know and find these connections to be too remote to have meaning.

I have sat here for about 20 minutes, typing then erasing sentences. They have sounded so…. well, depressing and that was not my intent, really this is only an observation on modern life, so let me try and finish  ...

…. But now a year on Facebook has brought me to this place; this place of realization that reading about peoples’ daily thoughts and activities is not being connected. This is not a moment of electrical current, a moment of understanding in the touch of a hand, or a forged friendship that will last a lifetime.  This is socialization once removed. This is city dwelling run amok; this is another short lived effort to find our place in the world, to be a part of, to belong.   I think it will be found, in the end, to be artificial and therefore temporary.  Do you remember the CB craze in the 70s – socialization once removed.  Ten-four big Charley


  1. I have had this feeling many times. I miss the days of the past when having 10 friends was normal. Now I hear people say they have 600 "Friends" and it seems to mean nothing to them. It is simply their collection. It is sad but it is also life in the social/media age.

  2. Crystal, all quantity and no quality..... yes, you get it.

  3. It's sad but true. I had to join FB because my dad posts photos there now rather than email them to individuals. Because my sister uses it as her main, if not only, means of communication. But you are so right, the comments and fleeting things are such small little glimpses and not the same as seeing and meeting and interacting face to face.

    Yet, I have made some real, lasting friends -- true friends -- via various social media. Forums, some through blogs, etc. Some I've not met in person yet but still count as among my best friends. It's a strange new world....

  4. It is a strange world. I am fairly young, 28yrs old, so people assume that e-mail is my world. While I love facebook, blogging and the net in general, nothing beats the ability for a friend to be able to reach out and give you a good old fashioned hug! Also people edit themselves when writing in a way they may not irl. Sometimes the little things people do in person, the way the touch their hair or a crooked smile are endearing.

    I do get it Ginger. It's a love/hate thing. Love what we are gaining but hate what we are losing.

  5. Makes perfect sense. I do however find Facebook and Blogspot quite similar in many, many ways. In a blog, you can write as much as you want...and have people comment if they choose too comment. Lack of comment doesnt always mean that it wasn't read though. But Facebook is far newer and popular now..... over 500 million user's at this point and growing daily. Most of my friends are people that I've known many, many (many,....just don't want to give away my age..35!!) and quite a few of my friends on Facebook are people that I met when I was blogging. Facebook is just a more condensed way of sharing things.......Not long, owry posts with loads of pictures attached. Though I am the first to love a great blog (like this one...that's a given) it is becoming more passe. The world wants short and to the point.....and hurry up about it while we're at it!!
    I think you expressed yourself beautifully in the post Ginger. It is difficult to get used to one form of media and either branch out or change sides altogether. I kind of think it depends on the person.......there is quite as much deep and thoughtful words on both for me. Right now I just prefer one over the other for myself.....and I'm speaking for myself only. I personally have found quite a few truly precious and meaningful relationships on both internet medias. I know for certain that many of mine will be lifelong friendships. I am quite, quite certain of that :-).
    Love ya, ss and

    Steady On
    Reggie Girl

  6. Very nice writeup! I see you are more than a photographer. Speaking of which, now I'll enjoy your more recent photographs.

  7. Absolutely. I threw Facebook and Twitter out the door. Do I care if my friend is walking into Red Lobster to eat, unless I am with them and they are paying? And who are the people who want to be my friends? I will never meet them. Go away. When I first started blogging, I had a circle of friends, you among them. I stopped the blah, blah blogging because I soon had too many blogging friends, but I still cherish the small group we had, and the fun we had in those early days. I think of my "special" friends often, and you are among them. Feel your nose itching? I am thinking about you.