Social networking. A now-ubiquitous term that conjures images of Facebook, nerds, and wasted work hours. These days, it seems you can’t enjoy a useful website without having to sign in, make a profile which reflects the person you’d like to be in the cyber world, and start spending your time networking, “friending,” and generally sucking up precious minutes connecting with other theoretical people. While I don’t mind having to sign into various sites, the social networking side of things starts to scare me off; as soon as I know I can have buddies, friends, or whatever-the-hell, I think about how much work goes into it, how little energy I actually want to exert on it, and how having a small buddy list makes you look inadequate and renders the whole thing pointless. Can’t I just post some videos online without seeing the dreaded e-mail that says “jdpstudman wants to be your friend?”
I’m generally in the minority on this from what I can tell. That social networking is a prerequisite for a successful site can only mean, I assume, that most people demand the feature in as many aspects of their daily lives as is possible. I’m not one to knock it as a concept, really; people can social network the shit out each other for all I care. And it’s not as though I take no part in it. I’m on Facebook and Twitter most days, and I enjoy reading the occasional witty status update or seeing photos of my friends’ recent drunken escapades. But I just can’t bring myself to fully embrace the extent to which it’s taken over our daily lives.
Editing The History Blogs
I also don’t want to log into ten sites a day just to see what funny YouTube videos people have posted. Because of this, I tend to lean toward just one social network at a time. For a while it was Myspace. I completely gave up on that and spent a lot of time on Facebook. Then I started appreciating the straightforward simplicity of Twitter even more than Facebook. What I use these sites for changes over time, but I really can’t handle more than one or two of them at any given moment. Maybe just one and a half of them.
I constantly find myself deciding (and re-deciding) what my online presence should be. This blog is an example. I’ve spent hours pondering how best to use it and years honing the style in which I write it. I don’t want it to be just bland news updates, I don’t want it to be an overly intimate glimpse into my personal life, and I don’t want it to sit on the interwebs gathering dust and not meaning anything. In the process of figuring out my voice, I’ll go back and edit or delete old entries to make sure they fit in. I like that I have the freedom to do that, and each time I do it becomes slightly clearer what I’m trying to do here; namely share my thoughts and observations on life while relating them to personal stories and experiences without getting into too much detail.
Relatable, Not Revealing
Relatable but not too revealing is the name of the game for me, because one of my least favorite aspects of social networking is the constant urge it gives you to say what you’re feeling at any given moment, and the constant feeling of others that they’re close to you and keeping up to date with your life by reading a few sentences a day. I don’t want anyone to think they know me via the Internet, and I’m a private person who is well aware that in my industry the more success you have, the less privacy you often get. I’m increasingly cautious of what I put online, how I present myself, and how much I reveal. But at the same time, it’s so great for musicians to use the Internet to connect directly with fans and have them feel involved. It’s a double-edged sword for sure.
And so I’ll continue pondering and strategizing, probably to no end. Luckily, I have no obligation to decide either way what kind of social networker I am. Many people have found their place, but I haven’t quite. And that’s OK for now. I’ll just continue on with my everyday life as I normally would, but with an option to be a little more “connected.” I just have one simple request: don’t buy into the idea that just because you can constantly update people with your daily activities it means you should. No one really cares that the club sandwich you had for lunch had way too much mayo on it. Some things are best kept to yourself and left a little sacred; the mundane and inane things are the most sacred of all.