Microblogging is all the rage. People are so interested in everyone else’s business, but rather than taking the time out to express genuine concern, or allot the amount of time necessary to form valid, cogent opinions, we want to be flippant, hear a sound bite, and pass judgment.
I’ve recently been introduced to the treasure trove that is FMyLife.com, where people share their tragic tales of woe (often in 50 words or less), leaving off with the tagline of “FML” or “<expletive> my life.”
There used to be Livejournal and Deadjournal for bearing one’s soul. Then we moved onto Friendster and MySpace, sites that were less about content and more about friends. Next came Facebook, a more sterile version of all its predecessors, and finally we’re rolling with Twitter, a 140 character means of expression.
Status updates, tweets, FML posts, they’re all this form of microblogging that I don’t fully understand.
I don’t want that statement to be taken in a crotchety, “it’s new so I don’t like it” way, but rather, I’m wondering how devolved our interpersonal relationship have become. Working in Public Relations, you realize very quickly that so much of what you do is based on networking and actually interacting with people. With each great technological advance with the supposed goal of connecting us to other people with greater ease, we seem to be closing ourselves off and hiding behind whatever devices allow us to update, tweet and re-tweet.
What is even more interesting to me is that the news seems to be recycled. These microblogging sites seem to be taking away our ability to produce original content.
In Twitter, I searched, “Chris Brown” and this is what I came up with:
In the four seconds I started scanning all the responses, another 7 people mentioned Chris Brown. There’s so much chatter, but none of it’s original.
I think microblogging becomes confusing for me with respect to, well, why we actually need it. What intense vainglory do we all have that we not only feel compelled to update people (sometimes by the minute) as to what we’re doing/thinking/feeling, but we also believe that people are equally interested?
Yes, I have personally found some significant use in sites like Twitter, but none of the opportunities I’ve come across were ones that wouldn’t translate to another medium. A reporter looking for sources can tweet about it, can update their Facebook status, or can send an email to known contacts that might be able to assist him. Odds are, all the people that follow the reporter on Twitter and are his friends on Facebook would be at the top of his email address book.
So there we have it, the reduction of our social media to 140 characters.
Then comes along a site like FMyLife.com which kind of turns things on its head.
How so, you may ask…
Well, now we’re not establishing a personal forum for which we can microblog about ourselves, but rather there’s a community outlet by which we can anonymously share our own failures while also anonymously engaging in Sschadenfreude AND getting to vote on whether or not the people who are putting themselves out there actually deserve to suffer.
Here’s a small sampling of what sort of misery people post about themselves on the site:
Maybe it’s the old soul in me, or perhaps the part of me that doesn’t necessarily want to broadcast that my one-night-stand recommended via text that I “take care of the pimples on [my butt]**,” or maybe it’s the sliver of my personality that actually enjoys being understated, but this just seems like the beginning of the end. How much more condensed can our conversations become? We’re almost at the point where our interactions are just a series of links from one article to comment to blog to fansite to what-have-you.
I don’t really know what the best way to combat this epidemic is. I don’t even know if this is really an epidemic to be worried about. But I do know that the more we communicate via these types of sites, the less we’re able to communicate in person.
Tweet if you’re with me.
**That was another FMLer; I do not have one-night stands nor do I have acne on my butt. Not that there’s anything wrong with either of those things…
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