Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Maragaret Atwood and Social Networking?

(Edited from original post of Oct 7, 2012)

The older I get, the more I find my inner musings mirrored in Margaret Atwood's writing. Here's an excerpt from her essay, "Deeper Into the Twungle" which echoes many of my own thoughts about the ever-expanding trend towards social networking:

Not long ago, I found myself having a Twitter conversation with a rotating skull. Its picture shows a skull turning around and around against a black background. Its handle is simply @rotatingskull. Its self-description is cryptic: “I am a skull that rotates.” When I asked it how I might make my own head rotate in this attractive manner—something I have always longed to do, as it would be a visual description of my state of mind in the mornings before caffeine—it told me I should view The Exorcist backwards while sprinkling holy water. Then it sent me a YouTube of itself in younger days, when it still had a skeleton, featuring as the prima ballerina—or ballerino—in the 1929 Disney Silly Symphony, The Skeleton Dance.

“Impressively nimble,” I replied. Then I hesitated. Wait a minute, I thought. You’re losing all perspective. You’re talking with a skull. You have no idea who this is. Would you let a skull pick you up at a bus stop?

Definitely not. But on Twitter you find yourself doing all sorts of things you wouldn’t otherwise do. And once you’ve entered the Enchanted E-Forest, lured in there by cute bunnies and playful kittens, you can find yourself wandering around in it for quite some time. You might even find yourself climbing the odd tree—the very odd tree—or taking refuge in the odd hollow log—the very odd hollow log—because cute bunnies and playful kittens are not the only things alive in the mirkwoods of the Web. Or the webs of the mirkwoods. Paths can get tangled there. Plots can get thickened. Games are afoot.

Read the entire essay: Deeper into the Twungle, posted in the New York Review of Books

It's not that I don't like social media and networking.  Over the years, I've joined various sites which are now canopied under the all-inclusive term of social media.  In the early days of the web in the 90s, I participated in the free-for-all world of the bulletin board (or BB as it was called) where it was a no-holds-barred environment that often ended up nasty and bloody.  The back and forth banter of lively discussion devolving into slash, slice and slaughter of the innocents. Since then, I've tried to be selective about what I join.  Even so, I've managed to rack up a fair number of memberships.

Current site memberships:
- Blogger (two accounts)
- Classmates
- Facebook (two accounts)
- Flick'r
- Goodreads
- Google +
- Library Thing
- Photobucket
- Tumbl'r
- Twitter 
- Tripadvisor
- Wordpress 
- Hotmail (2 accounts)
- Google mail (2 accounts)

--> Plus numerous discussion forums - I suppose the equivalent of the oldtime BBs - where my participation varies widely from lurking to posting regularly.   

From time to time, I try and take a break from the above, only to find myself dragged back  sometimes out of curiousity, but oftimes out of necessity.  Because, guess what?  It's how people communicate these days.  

If I want to stay in touch with my sons who may be halfway across the globe, then I need to text, Twitter, email, chat or post online.  Now that I think about it, even blogging is becoming passe, giving way to quicker means of communication.  

I've learned the quickest way to get a response from my sons is to text because they let their phones go to voicemail, then don't answer for hours and even email messages tend to sit unanswered - sometimes for days.  And they certainly don't use conventional mail.  for them, snail mail is used under duress (e.g. for thank-you notes to elderly aunts) and much prefer texting to calling if they're in a hurry.

Well, I digress. The point is - and as the other Ellen always says - I do have one, is that all this social media stuff is here to stay and getting to be more necessity than toy in how we communicate with each other. 

. . . So what's this I hear about clouds?

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