A few years ago I started complaining about how my friends never bothered to send email anymore, they just talked about stuff on LiveJournal. (Or, as they called it, “ELL-JAY.”) Then I signed up for a LiveJournal account.
This was in 2004.
A few years later I complained about the exact same thing when everybody in my group of Canadian friends seemed to start communicating exclusively through Facebook. Then I signed up for a Facebook account.
Why did the Bellingham/Seattle people all seem to go to LiveJournal first, and the Canadians all go to Facebook first? Who knows? But it’s like having a telephone or a fax machine or an email address, it’s only useful to the extent that everyone else has one too.
I have found that LiveJournal is more like having conversations at a party, where you might get into discussing some deep involved theory about the nature of art, or you might share cool stuff you read about, or you might talk about your personal life, or you might invite people to see a movie with you, or whatever. So as far as the social part of social networking goes, LiveJournal is my favorite.
Facebook is more like a class reunion. There’s a lot of “oh, so and so moved to Paris, that’s cool.” I kind of like being in touch with old friends even if all I ever do is invite them to our Halloween party and they can’t come because they live in Paris. That’s what I like about Facebook.
What I don’t like is that there’s so much of it. Too much Facebook. Too many items. I’m overwhelmed and it makes me want to hide in a corner. Do I really need to know that “So and So is contemplating dishes” or “Thus and such became a fan of cheese bread”? And, wow, all the games and things! It’s like people spend all day playing around on Facebook, like it’s some kind of videogame for adults.
(So, uh, if we’re Facebook friends and I’m ignoring your invitation or your lil’ green patch thingy or your cause or whatever, that’s why. Because I’m gibbering pathetically in the corner.)
(I do like the Superpoke! application, though. Because I think the drawings are cute.)
And yet, I kind of like Twitter, which seems very similar to the Facebook news feed, except that somehow it’s not. I don’t know what it’s for, exactly. But I kind of like it. I think it’s the way the 140 character limit makes everything seem like haiku, or fortune cookies.
I signed up for Linked In as per an invitation from a freelance client, but I have never actually used it for anything and I’m not actually sure what to use it for. Ditto Plaxo — signed up as per an invitation from a friend, and now I don’t know why.
I signed up for a MySpace page. I was supposed to join a friend’s community, I think, which somehow I failed to figure out how to do. And then I thought about putting up some kind of Goth House thing For the Kids. But I discovered that I hated everything about MySpace with a burning fiery passion and ended up killing my account in disgust.
I never go there. If I see a link and notice that it goes to a MySpace page I don’t follow it. I went there once to read a Joss Whedon comic (type “joss whedon” and “sugar shock” into Google) and I used to sometimes go to band MySpace pages, but it just never seemed to pay off relative to the annoyance factor.
I think it might be some kind of aesthetic generation gap, because trying to use MySpace filled me with the same kind of itchy, pointless, trivial rage that I feel when I see young men insouciantly sauntering down the street with their pants around their ankles.
My question then, is MySpace something that people of a certain age range will always like, or is it something that will become a marker for a particular generation? You know, ten years from now people in a certain age range will get all nostalgic about it and everyone else will be baffled?
So, anyway, I still don’t know about online networking.
It might be a good way of letting people who already know you what you’re up to, or a way of letting people who met you once at a convention party find out more about you, or a way of helping people who may never meet you become fans of your work. But I remain unconvinced that it’s actually a way to actually meet actual people.
Oh, I almost forgot: open invite to tell me about your Twitter feed. I have two. One is me, and it is http://twitter.com/mcjulie. The other is fiction, and it is http://twitter.com/dedeangelo. A modern epistolary novel.