Spent yesterday at the Whidbey Island Writers Conference, interacting with writers and book marketers extolling the virtues of social media. I know. I have heard it from too many people at too many times. Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and the rest of the social media world are how new authors develop “platforms,” become known, and attract readers. I don’t mind blogging; in fact, I think I like it, even though I don’t do very much of it. It’s like public journaling, verbal public masturbation, if you will. While I like writing about myself and what is happening in my life, I can’t imagine why people, especially those I don’t personally know, want to read about it. It’s not like I am famous, or even if I was like I am doing anything more fascinating than my readers (hopefully there are some) are doing.
Before I go any further, some disclosure is necessary. I am a 71 (soon to be 72) year old geezer, although people have told me I have the body of a 70 year old. I do have the attitude, and often the mouth, of a 15 year old boy. I am somewhat computer savvy — I taught online for over a decade, write and edit papers online, can do minor computer repairs, and after becoming totally frustrated with Vista, drank the Apple kool-aid (or was it cider?) I have a MacBookPro, an iPod, an iPad, an iPhone, and a Kindle. I use Dropbox, at times watch tv shows on my computer; I read books and newspapers on my Kindle and my iPad. I research things online and work crossword puzzles online. And I have accounts with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Before blogs were popular, I lived my life relatively publicly through a several-times-a-week basis couple of hundred email distribution list. I am Facebook a lot, but mainly to stay in contact with old friends, ex-girlfriends and one ex-wife, friends in other parts of the country. I am setting up a Facebook page for a book of mine that is about to be published.
So, I am not totally computer-illiterate. Blogging is understandable, at least if the person has something intelligent to say or has life experiences relevant to my own. The mind-set that believes one can be intelligent and relevant in 140 characters totally escapes me. Why am I interested in a picture of what people are eating, much less where they are and what they happen to be doing that moment. If you are tweeting about something that is happening that moment, you are not paying attention to the experience you are tweeting about. One cannot multi-task; it is physiologically impossible. This is true even of our politicians (for whom a strong argument can be made they cannot even single-task!) Immediate responses to an event or a speech are not thought out; they can’t be. They are emotional sound-bites, good for a 15 second TV spot, some image-building for one’s constituency, but hardly sufficient for sound, rational governing.
And, what’s with selfies? The seem to be the epitome of narcissism. I fully grok a desire to commemorate an experience with a photograph. But why inflict it on other people, especially strangers. Do the pictures serve any purpose other than make others jealous or falsely build up the poster’s self-esteem?
Sure, some people post links to intriguing and thought-provoking pieces which originally appeared elsewhere. There are some informative and valuable conversations in the special interest groups on LinkedIn and other sites. Facebook has lots of fun ways to procrastinate. All the sites have some value to them, if you look deep enough.
But seriously, folks. Is immediate gratification that important? Can we really solve serious problems in 140 characters? Is it necessary for the world to know what you are eating? The music you listen to, the TV shows you watch? Sorry. None of us are that interesting, nor that important. There is no need to share every minute of your life. No one cares. Live it, don’t just talk about it.
Just some thoughts from an old geezer. Now I have to post this to my blog and put the link on my Facebook page and my Twitter feed.