My Problem With Today’s Social Networking

The laptop will be here tomorrow, but I wanted to write about this today, so here we are!


INTRODUCTION

Facebook has always confounded and annoyed me. What really has bothered me most is why I can never get it to work.

It’s not like I’m some kind of n00b. I got on AOL the day it was released and dove into the chat rooms. I would later do the same with CompuSERVE.

There were also stand-alone programs dedicated to chat. ICQ, AIM, and Yahoo Chat were a few. Then there was my favorite: mIRC.

Rounding out the list is MySpace, a social networking site that I loved so much that I worked there for three years. I used their chat feature with a great deal of success, and also participated in the forums.

Circa 2007: Outdoors with my former boss and everyone’s first friend on MySpace, Tom Anderson.

But now, I suddenly cannot make Facebook work for me in the same way that all of these other websites did. I do have a few ideas of why this is the case.


THE USER BASE

With all of the other experiences noted above, I was always in a situation where I was dropping in cold, not knowing a single person on the site.

But with Facebook, I already “know” the majority of them. In past Facebook attempts, it was all people I had met in high school or college.

No strangers. No new blood. And no curiosity. The attitude is that we are already friends, and already know each other.


SOCIAL CLIMATE

Today’s world is simply too mean, cruel, rude, insensitive, entitled, tribal, and unaware.

I can’t really add much to that. Today’s social climate stinks to high hell.


THE ACTUAL INTERNET CONNECTION ITSELF

Of all my ideas, this one may be the most compelling.

I would spend at least 12 hours per day online in the early days. When I used AOL, my internet habit was costing me between $400 to $700 per month.

When I was offline, I was completely offline. And when I was online, I was online with a purpose.

I would get online because I was ready to chat with others, and I suspect it was the same for many others. Sometimes the connection was costing money, so I wanted to spend that time in chat with people I was meeting.


CHAT: OLD VS NEW

In the old days, when I sent someone a message, they wrote back. They had things to say. We had conversations. And, as noted above, they were online for this very purpose.

But today, when I write to someone, I have no idea if they are actually in a place where the are dedicated to engaging in a conversation.

They might be at work, or shopping, or driving, or in a club, or really anywhere. And chances are very good that now is not the time, and the time will never exist.

In the earlier days, I could write to someone who was online, and we’d end up engaging in some good discussions. At least one person from those days is reading this right now, and can confirm.

But in my last Facebook conversation, from the last time I had an account, I wrote to an old friend. I was engaging in conversation as if we were catching up. After all, it had been more than a few decades.

It wasn’t long before he interrupted with, “I’ll be right back.” So I waited for him to return, for TWO hours. After about a month, I realized that he was never going to return, and we would NOT be having a catch-up discussion, ever.

No wonder I was so frustrated! I’m used to having actual conversations with people. Instead, Facebook dictates that I post something and hope that a like or comment is good enough.

Sometimes I will even try to engage in conversation in the comments. That doesn’t work, and I end up getting ignored.

This has also ruined other people’s ability to engage in conversation. I once got a message from an ex-girlfriend that said, “We need to talk.” To give this some context, she and I met on CompuSERVE in the mid-90s, and she was a moderator in the forums. We had a history of chatting very well online.

I reply and figure that we would be talking right then and there. Nope. Instead, I could see her posting innane comments on other posts. It was one right after the other, and every single post seemed as if it were more important than our chat that we seemingly “needed” to have.

I never did find out what we needed to talk about.


IN THE END

It seems that this issue is highly complex. If I had to pick just one big point, it would be the fact that we are always connected to the internet. Connecting is no longer special, so nobody looks forward to it.

A message from someone, which used to be special, has now become an annoyance that interrupts a person’s engagement with memes and other nonsense content.

Besides, it seems that people would rather be angry about something, instead of having a pleasant conversation.

For me, this has completely ruined the internet, and I am not certain that it can ever recover.


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Published by DrumWild

Writing about drums, music, and philosophy.

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