Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Connection

I'm fully off of twitter now, and I am really happy. The only reason I got involved in the first place is my friend J was using it to update about his transplant last year, and since I was out of the country and dealing with the time change, I needed to be able to check in on him. A lot of people I know in France were on twitter too, so it was fun to see what people were up to. I quickly got tired of it, however, because it's a suck pit of nothingness. Quite honestly, I don't need to know what you are doing every second of your life. Sure, sometimes someone posts something that is actually worthwhile to read about, but most of it is how frustrating work is, getting a coffee, trying to sleep or unable to sleep, being tired, or other similarly meaningless things.

I was thinking yesterday about this culture of up to the second updates we have created. As my mom has always said, we all love to talk about ourselves. We love sharing everything that is going on in our lives, no matter how trivial, and sites like twitter and facebook make it easy to share with the entire world. Someone out there is going to read your constant updates. Someone out there cares.

The reason the Amish are against technology is that it separates people. The internet is a perfect example of that. You never, ever have to leave your house in some areas. You can order anything you want online, work from home online, watch TV online, and even interact with people online through sites like twitter and facebook.

It's incredibly ironic that we are increasingly isolated by the internet, and yet we use it to connect to people. Yet most people don't use it to make real connections - we connect through surface level sites like twitter that allow us to see what coffee shop you're working at, or through facebook which shows us what your cause of the month is. There's nothing substantive at work through sites like this, and yet they are among the most popular sites out there.

On the other hand, you can use the internet for meaningful interactions. Blogging being a perfect example, naturally :) All kidding aside, many people meet through blogs, dating websites, social networking sites for diseases. If you're looking to make a real connection with someone on the internet, you can do that too.

I know so many lonely expats who have been helped by "knowing" other bloggers, being able to commiserate about the common problems of moving abroad, and I know how helpful Planet Cancer is to isolated young adults with cancer searching to connect to someone who can relate to having to move back in with your parents after living independently for years or trying to figure out balancing class schedules with chemo schedules. The internet can be amazingly meaningful for those feeling lost and alone.

And then there is twitter, which I would argue is used as a way to connect and cure loneliness and isolation. You may feel more connected by being able to tell everyone about the fact that you overslept or have to get a root canal. But are you really connecting, or just creating the illusion of connection? Will anyone register that you have been there and contributed, or are you just putting another lonely blip onto the internet?

10 comments:

Ksam said...

I like Twitter because it helps me stay connected with my friends when I'm traveling for work. I miss out on so much by being gone 2 weeks per month, and Twitter helps me keep up with what's going on in Paris in the mean time (and also a bit less lonely while on the road).

Zhu said...

Like I said before, I still don't really get Twitter. I enjoy reading blogs and blogging myself though.

I understand what you (and your mother!) mean by "love talking about ourselves". It does get on my nerves sometimes, even though I'm probably guilty of it as well. This is why I can't stand Facebook for instance.

I have the illusion that blogging does connect people and can be less self-centered.

getyourselfconnected said...

I do not twitter or facebook. I email and preferably call the people I care about. I even still write hand written letters! I take the time no matter what for those close to me. I think blogging has introduced me to many great people and I think you can have a pretty good dialogue through writing. It has worked for us Soleil, or at least I think so, LOL.


Accepting Friday Night Entertainment requests.

au soleil levant said...

Ksam - true that twitter has its uses, but you have to admit that a lot of people use it to post meaningless, self indulgent crap that no one cares about!?

Zhu - Liking to talk about yourself only becomes something to feel guilty about if it's done all the time to the exclusion of listening to others. I don't think you have much to feel guilty about! I agree that blogging is a great way to connect people.

GYSC - I love that you still write letters by hand! It's a lost art. They say that future generations will know much less about how we live because we leave so many fewer written records than previously. Like I said to Zhu, I really think blogging is a great way to meet different people and see different ways of life. I think we count :) What about something Bob Seger this week? It's his birthday today and the local classic rock station was having a marathon, since he comes from my neck of the woods.

getyourselfconnected said...

Bob Seger so many to choose from. Your pick goes to top of the list!
Thanks for the kind words, I do not know how to do the smiley thing, but I can splice DNA, go figure?

getyourselfconnected said...

OT,
I wrote a hand written letter to my mom a while back (all sappy and thankful) and she still sleeps with it under her pillow. Anyone do that with a printed email?

au soleil levant said...

I think splicing DNA is probably more important in the long run than writing a smiley online. Just a hunch. And what an adorable story about your mom, just in time for Mother's Day!

getyourselfconnected said...

Soleil,
splicing DNA is not that hard, once you know what you are doing!

Bob Seger's "Turn the Page" is up tonight with a special nod to you. Hope you check it out.

I will attempt the smiley face:

:)

Good?

getyourselfconnected said...

My dear you are not disposable!

One of a kind.

You are whats best in all of us.

au soleil levant said...

What a lovely thing to say. Thank you. :) And thanks for the Seger shout out.

Very nice smiley, btw.