There have been several things I’ve thought about writing recently (and even a few 2-3 sentence post attempts in my drafts folder), but actually gathering the motivation and time to commit to doing a post hasn’t occurred.
But today seems to be my day. The sun is shining (if effing cold at 36 degrees F for being 3 days shy of the first of May…), I’m listening to the Nutcracker (as one does in April), and the latest article in the Wall Street Journal has really made me motivated to write something down.
In today’s edition of WSJ (at least in the EU edition, 27 April, 2016, P. A8), journalist Joanna Stern’s piece The Ultimate Guide to Live Video made me pause. I was already not a believer in using Snapchat, I don’t understand the point of Tumblr, and I’m not sure I even know what Swarm or Reddit really is. For years I’ve had a love-hate relationship with social media. There are times when its been fun (like way way back in 2006 when I started blogging, and then in 2009 when people were actually really reading what I was writing, and there was a whole community of us who visited each others blogs every single day, left thoughtful comments and felt like we were all ‘real friends’.) I can’t name a single person from that original group of about 20-30 people who I visited everyday who is still a blogger. Most of their blogs are either gathering dust as a webpage place holder, or like my old blog, no longer exist.
There’s a definite sadness to that. (*even just proofreading this, I see how much lazier I’ve been writing because in most social media platforms, less is more, remove the I’s and that’s another Twitter character you can play with*)
In today’s blog world, I read a good few fashion, design, beauty, and home blogs; to me there’s a disconnect. When I do leave comments, which I don’t tend to do often anymore, most times there’s no interaction. Not the way it used to be where if someone commented on a blog you made sure you answered them, and then visited their blog and left a comment. You showed you had internet manners, and valued and appreciated people taking the time to read what you had to say. There are two or three blogs where I comment and know that some of those manners still exist. I do not expect the blogger with hundreds of comments to reply to me, and I rarely leave comments on those blogs anyways.
I must be old-fashioned to believe in today’s lightening quick social media world that internet blog politeness still matters. It is probably a thing of the past. But I can say, those few that try and respond to my comments when I leave them, they are the ones I always visit, even if I don’t happen to have feelings or thoughts one way or another to that days post.
“Treat others the way you hope to be treated” I have no idea who that idea originally belongs to, but I do believe in it.
Which brings me to the article that inspired this post. The ‘latest’ idea in social media is to use ‘live video’ meaning you turn on live video and people can watch exactly what you are doing, as you are doing it. You could watch me typing this blog, or cooking dinner, or studying, or any number of other things. YouTube is one thing, a carefully edited version of daily life or activities (usually). But this live video feels very…wrong to me. It is your choice to use it, just like Snapchat and Twitter and all the others. But haven’t we already overshared our lives? Seen enough of people doing boring stupid everyday things? Doesn’t this just invite the wacko’s and crazies of the world to become more dangerous? What about kids (teens) posting something that causes predators to prey on them? Do we not care about that anymore or is has the idea of instant everything become more important than being safe?
It’s ironic of course that this is being written on a blog and shared. It’s social media! It is. I’ve deleted accounts (which is why my previous blogs don’t survive to point to), erased an Instagram account and deleted Twitter, suspended Facebook. Currently, I’ve deleted all the apps from my phone (something I do every 6 weeks or so when I get fed up with how much I’m checking them). While this might appear there, I’m really going to attempt to go as long as I can without checking in with any of it. I am constantly gut checking myself and wondering who really cares about pictures of my dog, or what subject I’m taking at school, or which art museum I’m visiting. When I really think about how much of my life I’ve recorded over the last ten years or so online since I started my very first blog, then in 2009 started using Facebook, then a year or two later started using Instagram and Twitter I come up with these questions: Is my life any better than it was because of these ways to communicate every thought I have the second I have it to others?
No, I don’t really think so. Sure, I’ve met other people, and there are some people I’ve only know virtually for years that I definitely consider friends (hi Amy!), but it hasn’t really improved my life. If anything, it’s taken away from my enjoyment of life. I’m too busy trying to get the perfect picture of the bridge, or flower, or stunning scene to pay attention to what my kids are experiencing. Or I’m too busy seeing what you’re wearing or what your dog did today or see what you had for dinner to engage with my kids and talk, or read, be outside. My attention span has dropped to a very trouble degree.
It’s the electronic leash that only seems to get tighter, no matter how much I tell myself I’ll stop using it or cut down. It’s always there. It is like being an addict. There’s a reason when Blackberry came out everyone (myself most especially) called it Crackberry. You couldn’t wait for the little light to blink red and tell you you had an email. And back then it was ONLY an email. I haven’t had a Blackberry since 2010, having moved to the Cult of Apple that spring. I miss the Blackberry in all it’s non-smart phone glory. I do know Blackberry has evolved, but it is still what I consider the “basics”. Phone. Email.
It’s all I should really need. It’s all I really want to be honest. I feel the pressure of over-sharing. I’ve gone down the road and I don’t really know how to get off.
But doesn’t it say something important that I want to?