Monday, January 19, 2009

Because I don't have enough to do...

If you checked into Serendipity this past weekend hoping to see a post, I heartily apologize. And I'm almost (but not quite) embarrassed to explain to you the reason for that neglect. I joined a rather infamous "social networking" site early Friday morning (and by morning I mean Thursday night). I was gifted with a block of free time that I had not expected, and going out on "The-Day-That-Wasn't-a-Day-Until-It-Was"- Eve just wasn't compelling. So I found myself in front of the computer wondering what to kill some time with. Several of my friends had recently told me about their involvement with the aforementioned time-suck, and although I was warned against it, I gave into my lesser Gods and registered my own page.

I don't know if I opened Pandora's Box or plugged into a nodal web of useful and fun association, and I'm sure I won't be able to make that call for some unspecified period- but I can report having been drawn in by its novelty. Like most other people who have found themselves on this particular site, I never realized I had so many "friends". Don't get me wrong... I'm pleased. After all, I am a bit of an egoist. Let me bathe in a wave of validation at high tide. I recognize the forces that exist that make it recede in due course. I also realize that this process leaves all sorts of detritus washed up along the shoreline. It makes me think of folks bringing that shit home with them and trying to hear the sounds of the surf.

Anyway, enough of the flowery pseudo-poetics... the truth is that I have gotten the chance to touch base with people I haven't seen or talked to in years. That's worth something. Now if it actually results in a face-to-face with one of my old friends, then the effort will have been worth it. I've never bought into this kind of thing before. My eminently wise friend refers to this platform as "trite-book", and I can understand why. One part of me doesn't give a fuck what you are having for dinner. On the other hand maybe I can get you to send me some leftovers. I also believe this could be an effective way to get the word out about local events. We'll see. I'm not sure that people have realized the full capabilities of this crazy machine.

What I haven't given much thought to is what kind of information is being sold to sponsors of this operation. I don't understand the income streams with these online applications. No doubt the individual who invented this specific network is now very wealthy. But by what means? Alternatively, I get a kick out of imagining government agents trying to get useful data out of analyzing who is connected with who. There's no obvious ranking system to identify those relationships that are deeper or more meaningful than others. The guy you used to see at the corner bar fifteen years ago is interchangeable with your bestest friend. What does it actually mean that someone is on your list?

Ultimately this is one more tool with which to negotiate our increasingly complex existences. The purpose we attribute to it is internally generated. All the technology and access in the world will not be wholly sufficient in providing the depth and creativity necessary to make the difference in our lives. It can be the writing on the wall, or the piss in the pot, depending on our orientation. And finally, maybe it's nothing so novel at all. Perhaps this is just one more effort at tribalism... not that it's necessarily a "bad" thing. Sometimes it's nice to know who is on our "side", even if it such a superficial gesture.

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4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found some high school buddies when I joined FB also, might even lead to getting together after almost 30 yrs. Keep up the writing it's always the one of the best things I read each day . I don't always comment but I'm usually reading. Thanks for your time & efforts. MP

7:14 PM  
Blogger Dagrims said...

I like it because people I haven't kept in touch with for 20 years can send me virtual hugs and I can start a flower garden and I can take a test to see what 90's pop song I am most like and then I can stick a virtual bumper sticker on my profile page and invite 20 of my best friends to play a game with me and it's just all so cool I'm going insane LOLZ BRB!!!!!1

Uhhh...I mean, it's okay.

8:12 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

MP,

As always, I appreciate the note.

Dagrims,

That was absolutely f'n hilarious.

12:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see changes right before my eyes.
jg

8:46 AM  

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