Thursday, January 07, 2010

Alaskan Rebel Lured to the Dark Side

(Sierra Leone photos courtesy Blair Cochran on holiday 09 excursion)

A friend of mine recently joined a well-known social networking website and while it was nice to see her face, I had reserved hope that girls who shave their heads and catch fish with their bare hands from glacial mountain lakes don't need that sort of thing. But like everyone else, I probably asked her at one time or another if she had an account- we don't want her tree to fall without being around to hear it. We must have worn down her defenses eventually. "For a while," she justified the conversion this way- "Not being on it was what defined me."
There is harm, there is no harm, it doesn't really matter- we are either on it or defying it and either way it is affecting us.

There's the old joking advice that to carve an elephant you cut away everything that doesn't look like an elephant. The streams of daily status updates feeding into the facebook river remind me of this piece of anti-wisdom. When you have something to say, cut away everything that isn't what you want to say, including the responsibility to your listener. Somehow this should make our sharing better, concise, direct. We stop the stuttering and the padding and the circuitous avoidance and simply say. We are here, we are hungry, we want you to know we've been to the gym, our baby walked, we got into school, we are bored, we like sushi, we had sushi, we wish we had sushi, we bit a lot of chumps. This might appear to be a criticism. It is not. I rather enjoy scrolling the reams and reams of posts. I like the easy voyeuristic glimpse into the lives of nearly everyone I've ever met. I feel uneasy when you choose this format to confess a serious matter, but isn't a sign that we should be listening to each other? It might be the wrong place, but maybe you don't have another place. As I write this I am periodically flipping through your photo album of a party you failed to edit. I am seeing if you've updated your relationship status. I am thinking about what you include, what you don't include, how it all puts the me in medium. I don't think it's so harmful, and if my awesome shorn rockstar friend is on here, then we're safe to assume it's not a complete waste of time. But as for the elephant? I see nothing but a pile of shavings.