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The Thing About Social Networking

March 25, 2009

My mom keeps asking me why I’m on Twitter.  (Hi, Mom!)

“What’s the point?”  “What does it do?” “I just don’t get it.”

There’s nothing to get; there is no point.  For the first few days I tried to justify it.  It’s a means of networking, everyone in my business does it, I can attract more people to my blog.  Now?  Now I say screw it.  It’s pointless.  It’s silly.  It’s probably a waste of time and energy. But it’s a fad, and like most fads it’ll amuse me until something new comes along.  Can children of the 70s explain the point of a pet rock? What it does?  I don’t get it, but it made Gary Dahl a millionaire.

In the three weeks since I joined Twitter, I’ve tweeted 64 times.  I can’t, for the life of me, tell you why, except that everyone else is doing it, and I like the sound of my own keyboard.  Plus, I get bored.  It’s just one more website for me to obsessively refresh while I wait for updates and personal validation from the fifteen people hanging on my every chirp.  It’s like crack.

I very quickly tired of MySpace after the tenth request to become friends with an aspiring porn star or emo rock band.  Though I will be forever grateful to the loud and obnoxious site for putting me back in touch with a boy I knew in middle school, I quickly transferred all my loyalties to Facebook, which I joined when it was exclusively for college students struggling to stay in touch with high school pals.

Now that Facebook is open to everybody, including my mother (hi, Mom!), and I’m being buried alive by SuperPokes and group invitations, I’ve lost interest.  This week alone I’ve been kidnapped, mooned, and given a lucky shamrock, while someone baked me hot cross buns, someone sent me Gerard Butler, and someone else did the chicken dance.  Plus, I can now use Twitter to update my status, so there’s hardly any reason to check in.

Twitter is limited to 140 characters and allows me to stalk minor celebrities. What’s not to like?

The last strong tie I have to Facebook is the ability to seek out ghosts of school past. Last week I hunted down a boy I went to preschool with.  I searched for his mother, who used to play Tim Allen’s wife on Home Improvement, and then looked through his brother’s open profile to find a picture.  Why?  I’m going to have to go with ‘why not?’ I haven’t seen him since we were four – I wondered what he looked like.

People can climb onto their high horses and claim that social networks are actually for networking, or even justify it as keeping in touch, but those are side-effects.  At the root, social networking is an excuse to curb our insatiable curiosity about other people.  Plus, you can talk about yourself as much as you want and somebody out there is listening.

Of course, it’s not all about our obsession with nosiness.  If not for Twitter, I wouldn’t have known that Neil Gaiman was going to be on The Colbert Report. If not for Facebook, I wouldn’t have had a very nice lunch on Sunday with a friend I hadn’t seen in fifteen years. If not for craigslist, I wouldn’t have an interview for an internship with a production company today.  So lest you think that I’m down on social networking, let me clarify: I’m all for it, I just don’t think you need to defend it as something more than it is.  Enjoy it because it’s fun, it’s amusing, it’s entertaining.  Isn’t that reason enough?

Quote of the Day:

“It’s like I’m married to Facebook and cheating with Twitter.” -a Tweeter named copymonkey.

Link of the Day: 25 Twitter must follows according to the LA Times

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Stephanie permalink
    March 25, 2009 4:26 pm

    Hi, Megan.

  2. March 29, 2009 8:09 am

    Haha, your mom asking you why Twitter made me remember my mom asking me how Instant Messages work? I told her it was like using the phone but you’re typing it.

    It was like 12 years ago and I remember her face when I told her that. She looked completely shocked and like it’s the most outrageous thing but she still didn’t get how it worked.

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