Social Networking

 

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).

 

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Social Networking

  1. Cheggers

    I thought George Miller’s two halves were Homer Simpson and Ethel Merman. No matter.

    Adam, your blog is, as ever, well researched and informative. I enjoyed it thoroughly, so much so that I am actually writing a considered reply with thoughts of my own, rather than the more common genitalia-based witticism I usually opt for.

    I have a somewhat schizophrenic view on social networking, being both: a new media professional (some may say pioneer) who should really be embracing web 2.0 and all its trappings with open arms; and an arch-traditionalist who generally shuns modernity in favour of outdated pastimes such as cricket and barbecuing in the rain. I agree, to a certain extent, that there is a danger that these sites will propagate the inane thoughts of uninteresting and idiotic people across cyberspace. But then again, as most of the people in the world are uninteresting and idiotic, there’s just as much chance that I’ll encounter their inane thoughts in the physical world I inhabit: in the office; on the bus; even on television. In that sense, I don’t see that social networking on the internet much different to real life, apart from the dispersion of the people involved.

    On the other hand, social networking has great advantages, notably allowing people to stay in touch across great distances. I, for one, appreciate the fact that I can stay in touch with people I went to school and university with who now live hundreds or thousands of miles away. They may think differently, but that’s not the point. I know I could have done this over the phone, via post or via email, but I don’t think I would have, because I’m inherently lazy. Facebook enables me do this with very little effort, and it also enables me to see pictures of them on drunken nights out; so, win-win.

    Perhaps more importantly, web 2.0 and social networking has had an amazing democratising effect on the internet and the media as a whole. It enables budding musicians, writers such as yourself and artists of all kinds make themselves heard – potential genii who would otherwise remain anonymous. Admittedly, a lot of these may well be crap, but at least people can make their own choices. As with anything, social networking is what you make of it. There are plenty of rubbish books, newspapers and TV programmes out there, but I don’t read Wayne Rooney’s endless conveyer belt of autobiographies, I don’t read the Daily Mail and I don’t watch Beauty and the Geek (OK, I do watch Beauty and the Geek a bit). Equally, I don’t need to be friends on Facebook with people I don’t like, I don’t need to follow people on Twitter who just tell me when they’re doing a poo, and I don’t need to read your blog if I don’t want to. Overall, I think it is a force for good in this cruel world we live in.

    That being said, I was very sceptical about the merits of Twitter. I didn’t really understand why people would: a) want to constantly tell other people what they are doing every minute of the day; b) want know what other people are doing every minute of the day. However, this is by no means a modern phenomenon, and certainly not caused by social networking. Rousseau said that:

    ‘social man lives constantly outside himself, and only knows how to live in the opinion of others, so that he seems to receive the consciousness of his own existence merely from the judgment of others concerning him.’

    This one sentence essentially encapsulates the reason for the success of sites like MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. They allow us to project ourselves out into ‘cyburbia’, in the hope that people will respond with their approval. So, in order to show my approval to you (or perhaps to gain the approval of others) I have set up a Twitter account. Despite my initial scepticism in the concept, I found myself pleasantly surprised. Rather than merely inane updates from vacuous people, I found that, the few people I am ‘following’ generally seem to be posting interesting, thoughtful and humorous snippets of writing that, while perhaps not ‘fine pieces of furniture’, are at least well crafted ornaments, well worthy of brief perusal. I will end this inordinately long reply with my favourite of these so far from the genius, Russell Brand:

    ‘Just left a little piece of myself in Bournemouth if you know what I mean, don’t envy the next gentleman.’

  2. George

    Thanks Cheggers,

    I feel that this site has served me better than Adam in the sense of self promotion.

    George Miller

    George Miller

    George Miller

    George Miller

    George Miller

    George Miller

    George Miller

    George Miller

    George Miller

    George Miller

    George Miller

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