A bit behind the curve, I forced myself to visit Reddit for the first time last week and am finally getting around to elaborating on a thought that has been developing over the past year.
About four months ago, I had enough of Facebook. As I mentioned somewhere, I only joined Facebook in 2010, after having resisted it for quite awhile, because a family member refused to share photographs anywhere else. Once I joined, being the sociable creature I am, naturally I developed my own community and had about 400 or so ‘friends’ in short order. Most of these were family, colleagues, high school and college classmates, a couple of people from grad school and some random peeps I picked up along the way. It is easy to network on Facebook.
At first I really got into the spirit of it by posting links and discussing subjects that matter to me. For the most part this went well, but I found if I stuck to my causes a fairly contentious exchange might develop, depending on the topic. After awhile, I realized that I was dreading finding out what antithetical and antediluvian views some members of my posse held. It is amazing how Facebook reveals things about friends and family that you would likely never find out otherwise. I am sure I have already said, the final straw has been finding out how many of them love guns and don’t care about animals. So, I only occasionally visit and post at Facebook.
But there are so many other sites where I have a presence that I find I have run out of time and patience for them. Since 1996, when I bravely created my first website with an archaic program called “Webauthor”, I have done dozens of websites. I had fun doing all the original artwork and copy (and even sound) for various purposes. It included a vanity site that was so hard to update, I eventually shut it down. I joined Twitter the first year when it was taking off. Somehow I have accumulated a lot of followers (and I follow a lot of people there, mostly political) but I seldom feel like tweeting. Not much I can say in 144 characters or whatever, being verbose myself ;-).
I also joined Tumblr, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and a couple of others that I have so rarely even visited, that I now have even forgotten what they were.
Once you join any of these, inevitably you also become a discussion group member. I have a bunch of those and I get their notifications, but hardly ever read them. Occasionally I jump in on a topic and post a comment and often get a lot of flack for my non-conventional and outspoken ideas. Then I have to make myself a loose promise to ‘berth’ them. I find that if I don’t and engage in the back and forth that I am sometimes unable to resist, I waste a great deal of time, never convince the sparring partner of my position and come away thoroughly annoyed with them and the site. So much better if I don’t even go there! Trolls abound on all these things — and please forgive me for even characterizing anyone in that disparaging way but I think the concept is really apt, across the board. There are people who say things purely to bait others into arguing with them, even if they truly stand behind their provocative statements.
But I think even more than Twitter and all the rest of these, Reddit shows me the direction in which we are headed. We will be pinged non-stop via smaller and smaller devices with more and more demands for immediate responses.
I should point out that, since I am at a computer so much of the time, and have tablets and laptops and airbooks and netbooks, I resisted getting a smart phone for a long time. Once I did, naturally I grew frustrated with its limitations and had to keep upgrading. I just got a new 4G phone and am still not able to figure out a lot of it, even though I have had it for a couple of weeks. I always grow to love my older devices so getting something new is a mixed bag. I guess I’m not totally down with change :-).
What bothers me is the idea that we are headed toward faster and shorter communication. I am not saying being succinct and getting to the point is a bad thing. For most writing, short sentences are powerful. My problem is, social media are supposed to be informal and free-range. My left-brain thoughts are rarely so clipped! (Could you tell?) My time is though. How can I possibly keep up with all the newest media sites and have time for anything else, like reading the long, labyrinthine 19th century novel that is supposed to help me be a nicer person, LOL?
I think I mentioned that I am planning to focus primarily on this blog, pushing all other social sites to the bottom of my checklist. That is not just because I sort of got bored or annoyed with the other sites, but really because I simply don’t have enough spare time. I have learned that we are all suffering from what is being called “time famine” and should streamline our activities so we can achieve “time affluence”. Interesting!
What I like about writing this blog (and the fact that I decided to try posting every day) is that I can put my thoughts out and get responses from brand new people (who I didn’t know at my other sites, necessarily) who have stumbled on it and decided to read or follow. That low key approach is the one I prefer in everything. I am not particularly pushy (nor retiring) by nature so I don’t intend to promote this blog, my ideas, worry about whether any thought goes viral, or if somehow I can retire on something someone finds here.
Looking at the book Reddit’s boy wonder Ohanian just published, one key point resonates with me. Ohanian believes the future belongs to creative people, not businessmen. The idea that entrepreneurship can be decoupled from a sales transaction model that has dominated modern economics for the past 150 years, appeals to me.
I did not start this blog to sell something or persuade anyone to agree with me. Nor do I write to provoke controversy and argument (although it is fine when that occurs, I consider it natural for people to react, especially when I am putting out strong opinions). My conception of this blog is as a form of creative expression and that has intrinsic value in and of itself. In fact, all my outlets, from singing to painting to knitting, gardening and baking are more about seeing my skills come to life than seeking attention or approval.
That said, I truly appreciate the people who take the time to stop and stay, and comment. Being part of a community is integral to human social needs and having the ability to develop a social network as far flung as the corners of the internet is a valuable modern perk. The frantic pace of Reddit, is a bridge too far for me. I think I will just concentrate on one place at a time and hopefully sustain my enthusiasm for the long haul. Here I will just spin my thoughts out into the ethers and alllow them to hang there socializing in and of themselves in perpetuity.