Social bankruptcy

18 Mar

“I can’t wait to miss out on jokes like that.”  Oh, that line slays me!

/me pulls back on my stylish anthropologist cap

The Portlandia skit above gave me a lot to think about. (In the full episode, Carrie meets other people who are disconnected from technology — including a scrapbooking aunt and a fellow in a coma — and eventually vanishes completely as she tries to say hello to Fred again.)  A full digital deletion is probably impossible nowadays, but is turning your back on social media a form of social death?

I’ll confess that I’m not terribly involved with social media.  My Facebook and LinkedIn visits are irregular, I forget about Twitter until a major newsworthy event occurs, Vine is a time suck to me, and I’m just not motivated enough to enjoy Instagram or Pinterest.  However, I’m glad that Facebook is there when I want it.  It’s kept me connected tenuously to dozens of people who would have slipped off into my past, and I can send a short message and renew a connection easily.  Even if I don’t post or comment often, I feel affection for old friends and co-workers whose posts remind me of what interesting people they are.

On the other hand, my friends who are more involved with social media seem to view connections there very differently. They assume that I have read all of their updates and refer to their posts in conversation as if they are common knowledge.  The paucity of my comments and Likes doesn’t quite make me socially dead to them, but perhaps on social life support. I could see some of them being like Fred in the skit, no longer seeing Carrie because she has no digital presence.

An old friend of mine quit Facebook for a few months and recently returned.  I didn’t notice that he was gone, but when he came back and sent me a new Friend request and posted to my timeline, I felt relief.  Why?  Hmm. He and I haven’t had a real conversation since the late ’90s and we live on different continents, but I like the world better with him in it.  If we didn’t have that strange tether through social media, we might as well be dead to each other.

So, maybe I’m winding my way around to this conclusion: quitting social media is not social death, but having even a tiny participation in it is a way of pinging the universe with reminders that you are alive.

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Posted by on March 18, 2014 in Relationships


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