These last couple days have been interesting ones for me. Not sure why; not sure what prompted it, I mean. But I have been looking at my online presences and thinking about where I spend my time.
It started yesterday, actually, with a message from Facebook that a friend had written about her upcoming wedding. I didn’t know she was getting married, so I went on Facebook to check it out I left her a comment, and then today she left me one. And I finally say what Facebook could do for me that a lot of other sites can’t. And I liked what I saw. So today after I commented to that friend, we ended up chatting for about 15 minutes. And it was really nice. I know there is no real revelation here, nothing all the rest of the world hadn’t figured out before, but it just now finally dawned on me.
Perhaps it will make me even more of a Web 2.0 apostate to say so, but FaceBook, Twitter, Digg, many blogs, and many online forums are becoming increasingly obnoxious to me.
Interesting, I thought, since I am just barely starting to really use Facebook. Why would he find it obnoxious?
He discusses three reasons: Facelessness, GroupThink, and the fact that it is a waste of time.
It was the Facelessness argument that I thought most about. Sanger says:
Now they seem woefully impoverished. The stunning diversity of humanity online does not make up for the annoying effects of anonymity and disembodiment — or in one word, facelessness.
It so happens that I “know” fairly well on the order of dozens of people, people each of whom I have, at one time or another, spent many hours conversing and/or working. I’ve met some of these people in real life (IRL), but I would not recognize most of them if I were to pass them on the street. And, when you get down to it, I don’t really know much about these people. We only know about our shared interests — Citizendium, Wikipedia, fiddle music, or what have you.
To be honest, this makes me sad.
It began to make sense to me — both Sanger’s reasons for not liking these tools anymore and my sudden liking for them. In the past, my attempts to use Facebook, Twitter, the 43 sites, and a lot of other Web 2.0 staples was artificial. It was done because someone told me I should use these great tools. But I didn’t feel a need to connect with people I didn’t know. I didn’t even want to connect with people I “knew” in cyberspace. It is only now when I am starting to connect on Facebook with people I know in real life that I find meaning in using the tools. And I will admit, I am not so interested in keeping up with the Facebook “friends” I only know online. It is the real flesh-and-blood people I want to know about. And they are really the only people who truly want to know what I am doing and thinking, too, I would imagine.
I wonder if I am not reaching the limits of my ability to stay connected. I have my own blogs, and I handle two other bogs for organizations I belong to. Is that why I like Facebook: because it puts the people I care about all together in one place? I know that makes it appealing. Less work. Like an RSS feed for my life.
But Facebook doesn’t eliminate my desire to blog. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to reach out to others to discuss ideas. So I think I will be doing this for a long time, too. At least I hope so.
My feelings about all the tools that are out there, though, come closer to what Sanger is talking about here:
The first time we see a shiny new Internet toy, we are all oohs and aahs. But, OK…isn’t it time to stop it with the “Which Star Trek character are you?” quizzes on Facebook?
While I am not opposed to an occasional quiz, I am getting tired of trying to keep up with all the new tools. There are some things I am just not going to get involved with. (That isn’t a new idea, as anyone reading here will know.) I honestly don’t see myself ever getting into Twitter, for example. More than that, though, I am not interested in being friends with everyone in the world, with having a respectable Technorati rating, or any of the other measures of authority or connectedness we use online.
More than ever before, I just want to use the tools that make sense to met do the things that are important to me.