Social Studies

I can honestly say I’ve never put much thought into what I write here. I mean, I do think about it, but as I go along. Something might happen or I might see something that I could easily blab about for a few hundred words, then I do it. I don’t write stuff down first, or put my thoughts in any order. I mean, if you’ve read any of my posts before, you already know that. I am not a writer, and if I’m required to structure a post too much, I just won’t do it. I’m more of a talker. Let’s talk.

I promised to blog about something a few days ago, and besides the fact that I didn’t have the time before now to sit and write, I’ve avoided doing it until now because frankly, I’m frightened.

It is said that as soon as you open your mouth, you lose half your audience. Based on, obviously, that roughly half your audience is bound to disagree with you. If you’re lucky.

OK, so a few days ago after the kids were in bed, I fired up The View on my PVR. I saw in the lead-in that they were going to talk to Aaron Sorkin, who created that new movie “The Social Network.” I figured I’d delete the episode after watching Hot Topics, because let’s face it, it’s all happening during Hot Topics. Who doesn’t want to watch Joy going, “so what? so what?” at whatever comes out of Elisabeth’s mouth, and Elisabeth vituperating and talking over everyone else in that whiny voice of hers? What? You don’t? Wait – you don’t watch The View? For purposes of this post, you don’t have to, don’t worry.

By the way, I’d already decided I didn’t want to see The Social Network, despite the huge hype, and usually it seems that people do whatever Sorkin wants, but I just can’t stand Justin Timberlake if he’s not singing, dancing or on Saturday Night Live. He tries so hard at acting. It makes me uncomfortable, and I don’t buy it.

Anyway, for full context of Sorkin’s visit to the ladies of The View, included here is the video. It’s long. If you want to skip ahead, he begins to comment on how he feels about Facebook at about 2:10. Also, because I like you, I’ll warn you that you’ll want to go directly to that part and skip the part at 1:20 where Babs comes on to Sorkin. Awk-ward.

If you decided to skip the whole thing, Sorkin’s comment of focus for this post was this:

“(Facebook) was a device that was meant to connect us, to bring us closer together. I think, and I know I’m in the minority, that there are at minimum 500 million people who disagree with me; I think it’s pushing us further apart…I think that socializing on the Internet is to socializing what reality TV is to reality.”

As an avid user of Twitter and occasional user of Facebook, I found the comment to be very thought-provoking, so what did I do? I posted his comment to Twitter. And Facebook. And holy moly, are people defensive of “socializing on the Internet.”

There are two sides to this coin. As someone old enough (I’M STILL NOT TELLING YOU HOW OLD I AM) to remember the days when people didn’t communicate via texting, email, Facebook or Twitter, I can see where he’s coming from.

In the olden days, people used to pick up the phone to call someone and not want the answering machine to pick up. (Haha, remember answering machines? Errr…yeah, I’ve still got one.) They used to drop in at people’s houses or invite people over, and go out to meet people. Real, live people whose hands you could grasp while laughing out loud (for-real laughing out loud, not just typing LOL then not actually laughing out loud, more likely not laughing at all), or whose arms you could fall in to when saying hello or goodbye, or whose shoulder you could lean on, like, literally. Not virtual chat but face time. The original kind. And they were close. And they formed and maintained relationships.

See, this is where it gets touchy. When I say ‘relationship’, I use it to refer to something tactile, present, ‘real’. HOWEVER. Probably 80% of the people who replied to the comment were up in arms. Socializing on the internet is still socializing, cyber-relationships are still relationships, and Facebook and then Twitter changed the way people communicate, we would never have met each other had it not been for these Internet mediums, etc. All true. I obviously feel the same way, as evidenced by the amount of time I spend on Twitter.

In December ’09, I was already enamored by Twitter, thanks in a large part to the hockey fan community there. We watched games together and tweeted together and ranted together (well, I never rant about the Habs actually, but I read a lot of rants). The Habs were about to play their Centennial game against Boston, and my tweet count was at about 4,000, three days before the game. For fun, I decided to pledge that I’d reach 5,000 tweets before the game ended that Friday night.

And holy moly, it was fun! Replies were flying in, as I tweeted away and kept count, people cheering me on, participating, giving me stuff to tweet about, laughing at what near the end were exclusively drunk tweets as I scrambled to reach 5,000, and when I did, there was a lot of celebrating with more drunk tweets. The 5,000th tweet said something about how much I love the Habs, #gohabsgo, and lots of love to my ‘tweeps’. I was actually out with ‘real-live’ people that night but the fun on Twitter was unsurpassed. My real-live people were in on the fun also, but didn’t really get Twitter. They were enjoying my enjoyment.

This past March, I went to Montreal to attend a Habs Tweetup, and hopefully meet a few of the folks I’d been engaging with. I love engaging on Twitter but if I get the chance to meet someone ‘IRL’, I jump at it. Well, I met about 50 of them. The best part? All of the people were just like what I’d imagined them to be. Huge, happy relief. I’ve largely given in to the blind faith of the internet but in the back of my mind there’s still 0.01% of me that thinks – what if this is a psychotic axe murderer? Just 0.01%.

I used to date a guy I didn’t see much, because he was an airline pilot based out of London (yes, England). Even though ‘long-distance is the wrong distance’ we didn’t break up because of that, but we eventually did, and I was really relieved that I didn’t have to feel guilty anymore about not spending all of my free time on Skype so we could ‘chat’. For my dude time, I want face time.

Another thing I don’t get about this, and I know it’s because I’m old-fashioned that way, is how some people, a few whom I know of, exclusively engage and interact via the web. I am thankful and grateful for all the friendships I’ve made through this medium, but in the end, the good old ‘reach out and touch’ feeling is the one that works for me when I’m really in need. Not to say that I’m sure the people I engage with wouldn’t be terrific if I posted my personal crap here or on Twitter or Facebook, but I don’t though, because it’s still so public.

I am in awe of people who meet on the internet, then carry on their relationship exclusively on the internet, and fall in love without ever meeting. However, I am aware that for most users, the internet is not new, it was always here. So maybe it’s an age thing. I know for sure it’s another great way to meet people, particularly for someone like me who can’t go out and socialize whenever I feel like it on account of my two miniature roommates.

I used to work with someone who used to know someone (sounds like the start of an urban myth, but it’s true) who used to online date. She would post a really old picture of herself on the site, like, 30 pounds earlier sort of thing, enrapt her suitors online, then be crushed when they finally met in person and the guy would never call again. How about, because you lied? Plenty of guys would have been attracted to her just as much with a fuller figure, but by misrepresenting herself, she’d never get called again.

Last year, a girlfriend was a little heartbroken over her fella who had moved away for work reasons right in the middle of their intense love affair. She came to work griping one day over how he’d sent her a post card. Like, gee, thank you soooooo much for the post card. And I said, “wait a minute – a post card? Are you kidding me? The guy went out, and bought it. And wrote on it, with his hand, in ink. Then he bought a stamp for it. And licked that stamp. And put it in a mailbox. Honey, that’s love!!” It may not seem like it, but in the age of firing off an email, or sending a text using all abbreviations, this act seemed right out of the Prince Charming handbook to me. A keeper!!! They broke up. Whatever, that’s not why.

I don’t know where this is heading anymore. What I want to say is, despite my advanced age, I can appreciate both kinds of relationships, online and ‘real-life’.

Maybe all Mr. Sorkin was really referring to is how Facebook discourages real-life interaction, in a way. At least for me, Facebook was the original social network tool (I never used My Space or whatever else), and my ‘friends list’ used to be made up solely by people I knew in real life. But it got so that it was the only way I communicated with those people (even preferring in some cases to encourage people to ‘check my Facebook’ when I didn’t have time to elaborate on stuff). So maybe that’s what he meant. No more picking up the phone. No more arranging to get together.

I talked about it with a guy friend last summer. I said, why don’t you CALL ME. And he was all, why talk on the phone, when you can text? I understand the time-saving advantage, but I still prefer hearing someone’s voice, or seeing them face-to-face. I really do. He didn’t see the point. Call me old-fashioned.

What do you think? That’s what I actually want to know.

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Comments

  1. This made me very happy I phoned you (admittedly intoxicated) from PEI last week to sing “if you like it then you shoulda put a ring on it” (when I maybe could have just sent a text)… but my oldfashioned bf who prefers more personal forms of communication and has never ever SEEN facebook and claims he doesn’t know how to get or send texts, insisted you would want to hear me on the phone and a text simply wasn’t good enough. And he was right to insist– we all laughed our asses off. I’m so delighted to know you IRL. xo

  2. I think I found the female version of me. I can’t tell you how many times a week a say “remember when cell phone only made phone calls”

    My favorite list on twitter are my “people I know are real”(people I’ve meet IRL).

  3. What is there to say? You are so right on this Veronica.. is it because I’m old but I do prefer the old fashioned way of communicating . that’s not to say I don’t chat with my sister via MSN but we are able to talk longer and about nothing but to hear a voice doesn’t compete ….

  4. I absolutely agree with you! Twiter is loads of fun and great for getting and disseminating news, but there is nothing like face to face human contact!

  5. I don’t watch The View (is it on the Estrogen Channel?), but I can see where Mr. Sorkin is coming from. I don’t think he is criticizing all forms of Internet social media, but things like Facebook and MySpace in particular. I don’t need FB, and I don’t have an account. “Friending” people on FB, particularly those you don’t know IRL is too weird a concept, and seems distant and impersonal. And people with hundreds or thousands of FB “friends” obviously have a different definition of what “friend” means, because they can’t possibly know them all (or care about them). Thinking that way doesn’t mean that you’re old. I think it’s personality type. I prefer spending quality time with a few closer friends than doing FB with 5000 “friends”, so perhaps that is why I am biased to appreciate real facetime (or at least a phone call). I am sure there are extroverts who like to brag about having thousands of “friends” or followers, but then it is not about getting to know each one, but simply having them as trophies.

    • Great, thoughtful comment, thank you! I do keep my Facebook account, because it’s really the only way to stay in contact with my friends and family in Chile, and to see all their pictures, and for them to see mine. 🙂 I used to love it, but all I’d really do was post daily ‘status updates’….when Twitter came along, voilà the new outlet.

      In my experience, the people who have thousands of friends usually are using it as a link to their business or website, and I’m happy to support them. 🙂 Otherwise, if you have that many ‘friends’, I don’t really see how it’s possible to keep up with them all!

  6. Habbykins says:

    Love the post and as a woman over the half century mark I can and do relate to what you have stated. I do not want to see the movie either.

    Take care Veronica-

    Laura

  7. My girlfriend went to go work in France for 4 months this past summer. We used to communicate via Facebook/emails. But being the type of mushy sensitive guy i am, i prefer being able to see or hear her voice. That’s why Skype became our main method of communication. I know it’s not the same, but in the end I agree with you, nothing like good ol’ face to face or a phone call.

    PS I also remember answering machines;)

    • Thanks for always reading, Robert. Is she back now? I know that’s tough! Having a set timeline for the time you’ll be apart really makes it easier! 🙂

Trackbacks

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Veronica, RG. RG said: RT @chile_pepper: Social Studies: http://wp.me/pLEAI-9b […]

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