Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Social Network (doesn’t work for me…)

I dislike Facebook. Twitter, too.

Notice that I did not say “hate” up there. For as much as I tend to misuse that word while speaking with friends, I don’t actually hate much of anything except listening to people argue poorly. But, like all people, I have my likes and dislikes, and there are many things that I simply don’t care for, including peppers, fruit, American horror movies, e-readers, bookstore representatives who aggressively try to sell me e-readers, most of the romance genre and this monstrosity that people call “Social Networking.”

My mother has repeatedly tried to tell me that I, quote, “Just don’t understand what networking was really meant to be.” Then she’ll go on for a while about how isolated the world was before the invention of the internet, how hard it was to keep in touch with nothing but the post office and how, when she was my age, she could only afford to call home from college for a ten-minute chat once a week.

And, of course, every time I open a Writer’s Digest article on building a fiction platform, the one thing everybody insists on is that you NEED a Facebook AND a Twitter, because it’s SO great for making connections with people, like, OH-EM-GEE!

It’s not like I think that Facebook should be outlawed, or that I’m going to begrudge anyone for using the blasted thing. I don’t care if social networking exists. I just don’t want any part of it. I don’t like “networking.” It’s so…fake.

I will be the first person to advocate making social connections and friendships over the web. Most of my support system is built from people I’ve never met in real life. That’s why I like blogs. You get the best insight when you’re able to read someone’s work and pick their brains about their passions. And hell, I wouldn’t be as good a writer as I am today if I hadn’t started posting fan fiction on the internet eight years ago and garnering feedback from it.

But social networking like Facebook and Twitter doesn’t give you any of that insight, not really. What it gives you is a shallow, insubstantial connection built either on a mutual desire to get something out – like a job offer – from the other person or on establishing a sounding board for your own self-indulgences. It’s not bad and it can certainly work out in your favor if you play it right, but it just feels…slimy to me. Dishonest. Insincere.

I’ve never pretended to be the world’s most social person. I’m an addiction short of the stereotypical self-isolating, anti-social writer. But my gut tells me that the honest value of a small web of 100 people with whom you’ve formed an honest bond is light years beyond anything you could possibly get from a social network of 10,000.


NaNo Countdown: T-minus 12 days

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