The eagle-eyed among you should be more careful when walking in the countryside and get to A&E post haste. Ha ha! . . . No. That’s not even funny! I will keep it in though as a lesson to myself and a constant reminder of my failings. Curse this brain! As I was initially saying, before needlessly meandering into the obscure, observant readers may have noticed subtle changes to Ventspleen, in the form of links, tags and re-writing of the ‘About’ page, which up until now, failed to even mention my name – quite extraordinary considering the unabashed way I usually go about self promoting and showing off.
The changes – of which there will be more – have come about as a result of discussions with and subsequent tutoring by my new internet marketing guru, Abigail Walker (some of you may know her from the slightly less glamorous role of George Miller’s other half). In her opinion, ignoring social networking sites whilst arrogantly assuming that Ventspleen will gain international acclaim on talent alone, is a pigheaded and idiotic attitude to behold. Sceptical as I was, I bowed to her superior knowledge and followed her advice.
Those of you who know me well will recognise my preference for the humble email over the Facebook ‘wall’ and may even be aware of my Twitter updates – although I’m pretty sure none of you have even looked – which, despite a tendency to expose my contempt for the invention itself (e.g Feb. 12th: Adam_Mitchell: “Fails to see the point of twitter, considering the already numerous ways that enable you to contact people you have no wish to speak to” & Feb 16th: “Twitter ad: ‘Real life happens between blog posts and emails’. . . So why enjoy it when you can write pointless snippets of crap on twitter?”), are always carefully crafted and never Adam_Mitchell “is eating a ham sandwich”, “reading Heat magazine”, “taking a shit” and the like.
Herein lies my problem; in my eyes, the fleeting, throwaway nature of social networking is completely at odds with the art of writing itself. To me, writing something, whether it’s a letter or a novel, is like making a fine piece of furniture – you start with a big block of an idea, hack out the shape and then gradually whittle it down, adding joints, features and ornate decoration as you go, before finely polishing the finished article – whereas, social networking sites, be it Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Twitter or another one, discourage perfection in favour of getting a point across as fast as possible – even if that point is Adam_Mitchell “is doing a poo”.
Thankfully, I’m not the only person that is concerned by the rise of social networking – although I may be the youngest – as all manor of scientists and doctors have come forward of late, to denounce the perils of social networking; Neuroscientist, Susan Greenfield, addressed the House of Lords this week, accusing such sites of, “infantilising” a generation, due to the declining need to interact and socialise face to face, whilst, across the pond, psychologist, Dr Aric Sigman, blamed social networking for all manner of ills, such as, narrow arteries, heart disease, cancer and dementia. The American Journal of Psychiatry has even labelled the obsession as ‘internet addiction’.
Others though have been less keen to deride the phenomenon and have actually praised social networking for improving our mental agility and epigrammatic skills. As Erin McKean said in the Boston Globe: “[Twitter can] polish up the tiny moments in life, just as the best writers have always done”.
Whether you like it or not, social networking has become as entrenched within our lives, as we have within Cyburbia, and only a fool would shun its potential as a tool to unite and promote. Ultimately, I think it comes down to how you choose to operate within the medium. Personally, I will continue to write with the same thought and consideration as I always have done, but now with an added enthusiasm to set up connections and circulate my work among the masses . . . well, at least I will do, until my arteries narrow, the dementia kicks in and my heart fails to beat. When that process begins, expect nothing more from me than txt spk about bowel movements.
‘For Sale: baby shoes, never worn’ (Characters remaining: 105)
Ernest Hemingway (potential Twitter genius).