If I know one thing, this is the thing I know:
I get that social networking sites have the ability to put you in touch with virtually any human being on the planet, at least the ones with computer access. I understand that a person now has the capability to easily keep in touch with anyone they’ve ever spent five minutes with, be that good or bad. You can easily make plans, catch up on happenings, hear stories without actually having to sit there and look interested, and generally spread information out in such a mind-blowingly rapid manner. But to confuse that with actual interaction with an real human being is so disgustingly sad that it makes my heart hurt for future generations. Never again will people have that magical feeling that comes after with talking with a person with whom you have no idea if you’ll ever talk to again. You have that all the time now, of course, with the people at the drive-thru, or the telemarketer; but I’m talking about those people who actually have somewhat of an impact on your life, on your development as a human being, that you know would leave a void, even if it’s a small one, should they ever leave. Those people who, at the thought of leaving, break your heart because you know for a fact that you may never have the chance to know anything further about them later. It’s actually incredibly difficult to ever find out anything more about that person if you’re worried about seeming like some insane stalker. But now with a click of a button you can know anything about a person. Intimate details that would chill someone to the bones if you ever told them just how much you actually know about them.
Think back ten years ago, maybe even five. If someone you barely know came up to you and asked you about your massage that you got with your husband at the Walla Wiki Resort on your honeymoon in Hawaii, where you stayed on the fifth floor with a view of the ocean, how do you think you would feel? Then they went further and wished you luck on your nephew’s job hunt because it must be so hard in today’s market if you don’t have enough experience, yadda yadda yadda. How scared you would feel if this person said these things to you and you’ve only met them once, briefly, at a party for your friend’s roomate’s sister. You would feel like calling the cops, or getting a restraining order, wouldn’t you?
Now, though, I can know anything I want about anyone, even if I don’t know their last name, just because of some social networking site they’ve chosen to be a part of. I can see every trip they’ve been on, what their major was, who they’ve dated, who their family members are, and sometimes even where they live or their phone number. I can blackmail almost anyone by copying pictures found on their own site and threatening to show them to people who could easily look them up themselves. I could do anything I wanted with this information.
That’s goddamn terrifying and it’s an integral part of the way we run our lives now.
I realize the hypocrisy as I do have a twitter, and a facebook page, and a linkedin page. I’m not stupid though, I know that to get ahead you have to play by certain rules, which is why these things exist. These things aren’t bad, but at the same time I’m acknowledging the utter banality of having a page in which you exhibit the most insipid of your behaviors for all others to see. What I’m really trying to say is that we shouldn’t let actual human interaction, real face-to-face time with another person, die because technology has made it easier. We should go out into the world and make actual friends and have actual adventures and then reminisce about them 20 years later after looking at the tattered old photos we took. We should not reminisce about things that happened five minutes ago – those aren’t real, meaningful memories yet. You haven’t given yourself enough time to process them.