Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Emily Blog Post

While it seems like, on the surface, technology is shiny and wonderful, it's becoming harder and harder to separate good form and bad form on the intertubes. Breaking up with someone is hard enough - changing your status on Facebook just breaks your damned heart.

It doesn't have to be that way. Web 2.0 could be a gentler place, full of unicorns and whatnot. Taking a look at the protocols of the hypertext tranfer protocols isn't griping about things's just acknowedging that things have changed. Online communication has become the Wild West of interpersonal interaction.

Online conversations are lame. Yo, we have all done it: been chatting on some pop-up window, blithering away, when oops! Out comes something that shouldn't have. Telling someone you've grown fond of them (in your pants! Sorry, heart! Awwww...) is totally way easier when you can hunt-and-peck your feelings into being. Same with expressing anger or giving bad news, since the stakes are way lower when you don't have an audio or body-language stream of information that corroborates and intensifies the words.

Building friendship or romance around online interaction is fine - late night conversations are especially gratifying - but you'd best get along with your friends and girlfriends in the real world, too. Online conversations usually have face-to-face ramifications: you can't be all, "I like you" on the internet and then pretend that didn't happen the next time y'all hang out.

Instant-messaging is a totally useful tool, but those conversations, with their lowered inhibitions and delayed reactions, shouldn't be standing in for real-time flesh-and-blood talks. Too much gets lost in translation.

Facebook is for you...not your dog/baby. Facebook is already solipsistic enough without dragging the pets into it. Chairman Meow is adorable, but please don't devote albums upon albums to pets. Fine, "accidentally" snap a couple shots of your furry friends, but the look-we-got-a-kitten album is tired.

This goes double for babies - very cute! But how much do you need to share with your "friends" from high school, former bosses, people you met drunk at a party four years ago, and distant cousins? A good rule of thumb is, if you wouldn't want these people accosting your children on the street, why allow them access online?

Keep your Facebook profile adult: don't post pictures of anyone or anything that can't untag a bad photo. And obviously, post as many pictures as you can of your drunk idiot friends.

That goes double for weddings. Happiest day of your life! Your mom! Your best friend! Your professional photographer who is going to squeeze blood from a stone and give you six thousand wedding-day shots! And then you're going to post them online! Happy!

Okay, seriously, if they weren't invited to the wedding, people don't care about your nuptial photography. Chances are, even if I was there, I spent most of the time avoiding the photographers until the tequila haze set in (see: drunk idiot friends, above). It's usually a lovely day and an important part of relationships, but thousands of wedding photos get old really fast. And can someone please explain why they all look the same? Add one white dress to one suit and poof, it's a marriage.

Now, if you've done something different (or really different), post 'em all. But if you've gone the bride-looking-demure-while-husband-hits-on-her route...we've seen them. Save them for your mom, friends, and future grandchildren.

MySpace doesn't make you a musician. Anyone can sign up for one of those seizure-inducing MySpace pages. Not everyone should. In order to be considered "successful," you need things like shows, fans, album deals, merchandise, and a band member who ends up at the bottom of the pool.

I suppose blogging (ahem) could be considered the written version of those heinous DIY jobs that infest MySpace...but my page doesn't garner you disapproving looks when the built-in music player goes echoing out into the office. Nor will it crash your browser. While MySpace has been lauded as the next step in marketing small bands, that kind of success doesn't come from trying to get your band's wallpaper to match its "mood." Bands that make it actually, uh, work. Hard.

Invest the money, buy a domain, post your music and listings there, and for god's sake, do it professionally. The difference between a lousy MySpace page and a beautiful website is immense.

Never replace face-to-face with technology
. This is the big one. Human beings are social. We need facetime. We need touch. We rely on extremely subtle cues from tone of voice, body language, and posture to read people; those things can't be replicated in text messages, no matter how much passion is infused with "r u awak?" People live far? Call 'em on the phone. People live close? Go see 'em.

All this technology is supposed to bring people together, not make it easier to circumvent the very basics of human communication. If we are truly friends, let's use these zeroes and ones to our advantage.


  1. This made me LOL

    ah ha... Totally guilty of cat photos

    and the facebook relationship status lesson was learned the hard way. haha

  2. I like this post. I also like the post you made about cellphones and not having internet at home, but I can't find that one. I hope it's alright - I cited part of this entry in a recent post on my blog about the way technologies put demands on our time.