Ten years ago, a twitter was, as Dictionary.com says, “a succession of tremulous sounds.” Now Twitter is a social media tool used by millions to communicate things that, somehow, we all lived without hearing up until now. Ten years ago a face book would be a book with faces in it. Now it is a means for people to keep up with each other’s lives from our computer or iphone screens. My space used to be where we’d go to be alone. Now, Myspace is a social media platform.
People have really embraced these forms of communication. A few months ago we were talking to an adult friend who casually mentioned that our daughter was worried she’d miss her plane that morning. How did she know? Facebook.
I have a Twitter account. Honestly, it’s like pulling teeth to get me to use it. I have so many other things to occupy my time that I’m not sure what benefit it gives me to tell people, in 140 characters or less, what’ I’m doing throughout the day. And, I’m even less sure what benefit other people would get from hearing about my lunch, the nice walk I took, or how bad my migraine is.
Last Friday I signed up for Facebook. It was easy to do, and while it asks for more information than I wanted to give, you can choose not to divulge everything. I know quite a few people who are “on” Facebook, and they mostly responded favorably to my request that they “friend” me. People share comments, photos, and even videos with their friends, and it is admittedly interesting.
I don’t know much, yet, about how it works, or all the ramifications of sharing too much on Facebook. For example, there are surely things I’d be happy to share with friend friends, that I’d be reluctant to share with professional friends.
I was thinking that some new social media outlets might be needed. Couples could communicate using “Myspouse.” Ridiculous stories could be told on “Farcebook.” Railroad engineers could communicate on “Tooter.” Or, maybe not.
There are those who say that our fascination with communicating by electronic devices has had a negative effect on our time spent communicating in person. A text message is much less personal than a phone call, for example. I wonder if a bigger issue might be that tweeters, Facebook devotees, and Myspacers end up spending more time with the devices than with people, nature, books, or their own thoughts. But, I’m not worried that social networking and social media are a danger to society. There are worse habits to have.
I see that the world has changed, and while I don’t want to be left behind, I’m not sure I want to come along either. Figuring out what has real value in life is really a life-long pursuit. And, I guess each of us has to decide that on our own.