The Oxymoron of Social Media

Social media: the name implies communication (defined by me as an exchange of ideas only possible between individuals who consider themselves equals) yet most of us seem to use it exclusively to sell ourselves – our products, our services, our ideas. There is neither space (i.e., post limits) or time (i.e., lifespan of the average post) to conduct in-depth meaningful exchange, and the medium itself gives us the illusion but not reality of personal interaction, if only due to its inability to effectively transmit sarcasm, irony, humor, or any other subtlety. It is as a result the drink that temporarily sates, but does not satisfy. If it refills our “social” meter (to use a concept from the SIMS), it does so only vaguely, like a sugar or caffeine high that leaves us more tired and alone than before we indulged.

The media is indeed the message: Keep your thoughts brief, your repartee sharp and lightning fast. Use emoticons to reduce a wide range of human emotions to a small set of easily recognized and irritatingly vague options that transcend the need to maintain (or even develop) language skills at all. Show solidarity by sharing – but not by sharing reasoned, thought-out, and well-spoken dialogue between equals (see “communication”, above), but by changing your screen icons to the same colors.

These all-too-public gatherings are not water cooler conversations (at worst) or coffee shop klatches (at best). They are sound bytes that convince us we’re watching the same movie – and each hearing excerpts of an assumed larger and shared soundtrack to our lives. This assumption gives us “brotherhood” without commitment, “sharing” without sacrifice, “community” without neighbors, “friends” without relationship.

How does that work, exactly?

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Farewell to Facebook

I think I will 1) stop writing and reading on FB altogether, and only post to it from my blog, 2) communicate directly with people I wish to interact with, and 3) acknowledge that written messages between persons without shared understanding of the other’s intent are almost always misinterpreted, particular when one party is trying to inject levity into a subject the other takes very seriously. Point is that everyone on FB takes themselves too seriously, and really doesn’t laugh at anything unless it’s at someone else’s, and certainly not their own, expense. But then again, in this world some things aren’t funny anymore. And in some cases, they never were. THAT to me is the problem with people who despise political correctness – they no longer have the option to feel superior at someone else’s expense, but must rely on their own merit for self-respect. Of course there are exceptions, and it is not possible to legislate good taste, compassion, consideration or respect. Therein lies the dilemma: getting along, and coexisting, is up to each of us, individually. Anytime you create a “we”, you’ve built a wall.

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Somnambulism in the Rain

Conducting one’s life outside the immediacy of meatspace is ALMOST as exhausting as if one had to actually physically travel to conduct conversations with one’s geographically far-flung “friends” in the flesh. I’m so tired of the forced interaction and the need to constantly be entertaining, provocative or at the very least annoying – but once you remove sensation, disruption, shock and awe and the whole Sturm und Drang from virtual reality, all you have left is ennui, disconnection, general malaise and overall pathetic disinterest (both incoming and outgoing). They say, or at least they used to, that to be “interesting” you need to be “interested”. Well, I just can’t dredge up that kind of enthusiasm when I know that the minute I myself border on the every day, average and non-controversial, all those “listeners” out there in that land will with a quick carpel-tunnel click be on to the next car crash, celebrity rehab, political faux pas, Freudian slip or meme misquote. Honestly? Is maintaining a daily conversation with the world necessary or even possible? How urgent do our lives need to be? How important ARE we, anyway?

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I don’t believe that we have met

I don’t believe that we have met,
and yet, you know my name
and act as if you know me well,
at least enough to speak
informally, as if to say
what protocol exists
you can brush quickly to the side
without a second thought.

I don’t believe that we have met;
I surely would recall
the way in which you take control
and seem to think it right
that those around you should pretend
your mastery extends
to every subject known to man
(at least those worth the time).

I don’t believe that we have met,
and yet, it seems to me
that there is, just in your approach,
the taste and smell of death:
a shadow cast around yourself
inside which none dare go,
a graveyard for outside ideas
beyond your status quo.

I don’t believe that we have met,
for I don’t know your name;
although you act as thought I should
consider you a friend.
I wonder just how many souls
surrender to your charm;
and how we managed to survive
until you came along.

I don’t believe that we have met,
and yet, you seem to claim
some hold on me and on my thoughts.
You know my history,
but bluffed your way through study hall
and did not comprehend
that just because you think it,
does not really make it so.

17 APR 2013

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Speech Between the Fallen – a cywyyd deuair hyrion

Must I explain it once more?

Try hard to fight the boredom
that most likely will ensue
the moment you think useless
any viewpoint but your own,
and on your cragged and stony
field, let germinate a seed
of mine. I am not pleading
with you; I have friends enough
without you: fine and tougher
allies than you’ll ever make,
trees that strong winds have shaken
but whose roots remain well sunk.

This no rambling, drunken
speech from one who laughs too loud;
nor cryptic verse of clouded
rhyme enmeshed with metaphor.

I’ve said it now so poorly
that it makes no sense at all.

How low we both have fallen!

10 Dec 2012

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Face to Face

We reconnect through wireless means –
no strings attached, just memories
like wisps of smoke we can’t inhale
without a self-accusing stare.

Like ghosts, we shuffle wall to wall
and watch as life unfolds somewhere,
where we could be, on different paths,
some roads less traveled, others not.

We fondly look in retrospect
at days long gone, and former lives;
our innocence, perhaps, our joy –
some part of us we think now lost.

It’s just illusion that we weave,
this semblance of the village square
that in an instant may be gone.
It’s really just us, standing there.

And what do we have left say?
Not much. We share our politics,
or random thoughts about the world
that make us feel as if we care

beyond this circle in the dust
of wild electrons spinning ’round
that gives us substance in this mist
and makes us seem alive again.

26 AUG 2009

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@everyone

It’s all exposed online, you understand.
My life is more or less an open book:
my birth, my education, then my work,
and shared, too, all too soon, sickness and death.

The details that might make my trip unique
are no more poignant, pithy or sublime
than those comprising your own story-line;
if you want juicy gossip, look within.

This fascination with the small details
that keeps us all so spellbound with delight
as constant updates try, in little bites,
to feed our self-important appetites:

where does it end? And can such urgent lives
except in death expect to find much peace?

10 AUG 2009

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