Sunday, April 19, 2009

Socially Poor?

After a long and hot walk on the beach this morning, I came home and went immediately to my computer to check Facebook (sidetracked on the way by a short conversation with my son about tattoos which I still cannot appreciate as ART although I try). Why am I so drawn to Facebook? One of my old friends refers to it as FB High School. I went to a small girls high school which is nothing like my experience of FB so that cannot be it. I also regularly check my Twitter account although I use Twitter as a personal RSS feed for news on topics in which I am interested--BNO, NPR, NYT, LAT, enviroment, copyright law, internet law, technology and some business. I have never tweeted myself only "followed". I reserve my tweeting for FB where to the amusement of some of my colleagues I change my status almost every day (sometimes more) and regularly post links, comment and take quizzes.

So I just logged onto to FB and saw that my daughter tagged herself in one of the recent photos we took of her and her lovely bf. At her and my son's request I have stopped tagging them myself so that they have some control over what pictures show up on their own pages. I am pleased that she obviously liked the picture enough to claim it. I like the picture but I am not her (as she tells me all the time and vice versa)
Then I clicked on a NYT link of an article about Twitter and Facebook. This article repeats an assertion by a speaker at SXSW tech that people who twitter and FB are socially impoverished. The author says:

“Connectivity is poverty” was how a friend of mine summarized Sterling’s bold theme. Only the poor — defined broadly as those without better options — are obsessed with their connections. Anyone with a strong soul or a fat wallet turns his ringer off for good and cultivates private gardens that keep the hectic Web far away. The man of leisure, Sterling suggested, savors solitude, or intimacy with friends, presumably surrounded by books and film and paintings and wine and vinyl — original things that stay where they are and cannot be copied and corrupted and shot around the globe with a few clicks of a keyboard!

I live in a house with 7 other people including a baby, a four year old and an 83 year old. That is cramped. I work at a studio which has over 3000 employees at my location not counting those that come on the lot periodically for productions and visits. I live in a world city with a metropolitan population of over 12 million, all of whom seem to be on the freeways when I am. The internet is an escape--a way of traveling when I must deal with the vicissitudes of everyday living. I can vicariously hike in the Adirondacks with an old high school friend, kayak with my sister in upstate NY, walk on the beach in Florida with my niece, look at the animals another niece is treating in vet scho0l, dream of traveling to London, Stuttgart, Amsterdam, Japan like an old college friend, enjoy the tales of raising a household of teenagers from another high school friend, all from the comfort of my bedroom or office. These connections may seem fleeting but are rich and longlasting in my imagination. I am exposed to ideas that other people find interesting based on what they choose to link to on FB. I learn a lot of breaking news and not so breaking news on Twitter. Notwithstanding this internet activity, I also have time to read, appreciate art and occasionally film, although working at a studio does tend to undermine my enjoyment of motion pictures. But there is also so much to escape--loved ones' illnesses, financial concerns, aging and loss of memory (others and mine). I get to control my interactions with FB and Twitter and right now I choose to spend more time there than in the real world where CNN and sports blare from the television and many people continually look to me to solve their problems.

If that makes me impoverished, I am pleased to be poor.

No comments: