I’ve been thinking about “social networking” recently. I went to a marketing seminar on Tuesday, and that was much of the focus. But it bothers me. The more social media we use, it seems the less truly social we become.
We share inane minutiae about ourselves on Twitter, Facebook (or Twitbook as I once heard them collectively called) to a world that couldn’t care less. Because we can, we do. Yawn. But I think it’s worse than just irrelevant. I actually think it’s negative.
A relationship, be it romantic or friendship (or both, or somewhere in the middle, or neither, or…), waxes and wanes over its lifespan. It gets little pulses of renewal when some new facet is uncovered. “I never knew you had six toes!” It’s not that these little things are secrets per se – they just weren’t worthy of explicit mention. When they do pop up in a conversation, they’re surprising and renewing to the bond that was formed. You realise then that no matter how well you thought you knew the person, there’s an infinite number of layers and facets within them. They’re interesting.
Real people are fascinating.
Online people – less so.
It’s a manufactured persona. A marketing effort. Usually we ourselves are the marketing department and typically suck at it, but “celebrities” really do have other people paid to manage their online “social” persona. I am under no illusions whatsoever that Obama is REALLY checking his LinkedIn connection to humble ol’ Quieter Elephant… especially as I can’t vote in the US! Lloyd Cole on the other hand is (and I say this respectfully) past his creative prime, and I’m a little more confident that he himself creates the tweets I read from @Lloyd_Cole. Especially as he is looking to fund his next album through pre-orders.
So, having said all that – it’s not without its uses either. As with a hammer – it’s a tool that can’t be used for solving every problem, but it does have a place when used appropriately. A big one for me is learning. We never stop learning. If we do – we die. Maybe not physically, but practically. Young people think old people are worthless because they find it harder to learn and adapt. Kids, eh? I think “getting old” is just another way of saying “full!”. The elderly have learned so much in their lives. The young could benefit from tapping into that hard won knowledge and experience. Then the old could learn how to mentor. Win-win!
So I enjoy the opportunities the interwebs (as Bunbury would call them) offer to access new-to-me ideas, opinions and stuff generally. I enjoy StumbleUpon because of its randomness within the scope of my selected interests. (Though “Babes” does seem to come up more often than most. Just sayin’…)
And this very morning my computer, via software written after I arrogantly left the profession claiming “there are no new interesting problems to solve”, delivered to me the work of Patricia Piccinini.
Born in Sierra Leone, she’s an Australian artist, specialising in “hyper-realistic” sculptures. Typically fibre-glass, silicone, human hair, real clothes. Though her work is varied, a common theme is “what if?” Particularly that emotional space where we question what it is to be human.
I encourage you to check out her website. There’s some amazing work. Thought-provoking as well as technically brilliant. I suspect some readers will be repulsed, others fascinated.