Remember When The Web Was Anti-Social?

by Venomous Kate

I’ve about had it up to my eyebrows with all of this “social networking” crap on the web. Oh, sure, I thought they seemed fun at first and I hurriedly signed up for Twitter and a few other places. What a great way to stay in touch with my blogging friends, I thought, even on days when I don’t have time to visit their blogs.

Then a few sites turned into a handful, and a handful became two handfuls, and now every morning when I check email I’m swamped with notices from Friendfeed and messages about who’s added me as a friend, fan or favorite on this or that site. Naturally, I feel obligated — for some strange reason — to check out who those people are and what their blogs are like.

But by the time I’ve done that my morning’s shot, and most of it’s been wasted on strangers who — despite having labeled me as a ‘friend’ or whatever — I don’t know, don’t really have much in common with and, when it comes right down to it, don’t actually want to get to know better. (But, hey, if you added me “Thanks.”)

Now even Google is getting in on the social networking thing with its “Friend Connect” service which — if you ask me — sounds remarkably like running a blog:

Using Google’s new Friend Connect product, any Web page, whether it is devoted to curling or pizza or a folk singer, can allow visitors to make and connect with other “friends” who visit that site. Like any major social network today, any Web page using Friend Connect could easily present to each user the names and pictures of friends and potential friends. Those people could then post messages to one another.

Thing is, I used to love being online in order to avoid being social. I loved sitting down in the morning with a cup of coffee and reading the news, blogging about whatever struck my fancy and exchanging emails with a couple of people before ignoring the computer until the next time I was bored.

Social networking changes all that. If you add someone as a “friend” you’re going to get messages (or Twitters or Friendfeeds or whatever) about every single entry they’ve written, sites they’ve Stumbled or Dugg or added to Del.icio.us and comments they’ve left around the web. And — if they actually know you’re following them — they now expect you to know everything they’ve written within hours of it happening.

The thing about this “social networking”, really, is that it actually seems to be having the exact opposite effect. Why bother sending an email to a close friend saying you’re having a crappy day when, instead, you can just blog about it and assume they’ve read it (then resent them if they haven’t)? Why pick up a phone and ask for a shoulder to cry on when your cat gets run over when, instead, you can Twitter about it and be offended when others don’t know about your loss? When did “socializing” equal monologues which others absolutely must pay attention to or they’re not really your friends?

They can call it “social networking” all they want but as far as I’m concerned it’s all becoming increasingly anti- social. Or at least it’s making me feel that way. So if you happen to be among the four dozen or so people today whom I stopped following, don’t take it too personally. If we were really friends you’d have my email address and/or my phone number, and you’d know you’re welcome to use them when the mood strikes.

20 Responses to “Remember When The Web Was Anti-Social?”

  1. AMEN!

    I joined Twitter to keep up with some friends who moved out of my vicinity.

    The people who piss me off on Twitter are the ones who seem to be doing some sort of marketing of – what? Who the hell knows – themselves? And who add everyone and their dog (hamster? parakeet?) to their list.

    I pretty much keep my Twitter friends to actual friends. Y’know. Like you.

    But yeah. Between that and keeping up with my teenager on MySpace (hahahaha!) I’m pretty sick of “the Friendly IntarwebnetAOL.”

    Margis last blog post..If it’ll lower my bill, they can put one in my backyard.

  2. Any social network that would have me as a member is not worth joining…people are the worst…present company excluded of course.

    Bryans last blog post..Lee and Clinton

  3. oh heavens yes! Years ago, when AOL first came out with IM’s I hated them and refused to answer or “be available” and I would never ever ever sign up for Twitter. It sounds like a nightmare of sociableness.

    That said, I have just downloaded yahoo messenger and put up the webcam my daughter sent me for Mother’s day. Seems she had this great idea that I’d like to see my granddaughter (and have her see me) everyday. That I can go for.

    Otherwise, email me. Or blog about it and I’ll get around to reading it sooner or later :-)

    Donna B.s last blog post..Weekend DIY Project for Dear Hubby

  4. what’s this phrase “visit their blogs” you use? I am not understanding, but for commenting.

    It’s actually a pretty interesting point. I have zero internet/meatspace crossover.

    Back when ryze.com existed (well I suppose technically it still exists. It’s just pointless now) I was a relatively hardcore member. People got pissed because I’d turn down their “friend” requests on the grounds of not having the faintest idea who the hell they were.

    I think that “link everyone” behavior is what has diluted these things beyond any possible utility.

    Likewise I’ve never linked someone or added them to the blogroll because they’ve asked. You’re on my links if I read you. I’ll link to you in a post if you’ve said something of substance and I start leaving a comment that’s too long. Then I’ll just go write a…err…

    right.

    Mike Wilsons last blog post..Oh go twitter yourself

  5. I have, wisely, avoided most of the social networking traps. If a stranger wants to be my friend, I ignore the request. I have an inactive MySpace account which I should get around to deleting. I enjoy Facebook because it has helped me reconnect with some dear old friends, plus almost all of my family is there. And I love losing at Scrabulous. I add very few new apps to FB, because I figure, the ones I already added, well they’ve got my info and that’s that.

    Lattegirrls last blog post..Up before the sun, even

  6. I pretty much started blogging just to have an excuse to meet the Jawja Blown-Eyeds, the blog-spawn of Acidman. Totally worth it.

    But speaking of anti-social, I had a somewhat presumptive blogger criticize YOU in MY blog comments, adding that he had de-linked you. I invited him to repeat the honors with my blog as well. A little bit of anti-social solidarity, if you will!

    Joan of Argghh!s last blog post..Yelling, FIRE! in a crowded Internet

  7. Oooh, that’ll teach me: delink me and then tell someone else about it in the comments to an entry that has nothing to do with me. Oh, I tremble. I shake. I… can’t stop laughing.

  8. I want a front door mat that says that!

  9. Amazing that in spite of all these social media networks I’m a member of I still can’t find a date. :(

    Lincolns last blog post..Servers Upgraded, and I’m Still Alive!

  10. Donna – I actually have a history with AOL (that I will repeat a little bit of here and then I will speak no more of it – hah)

    I used to be a “Community Leader” on AOL before the DOL shut that down because you can’t have volunteers do the same job as paid folks. Huh. Who knew?

    Anyway. I was a host for a community – we played online “fill-in-the-blank” type of games. It was a whole lot of fun and I STILL miss Hecklers Online to this day.

    After they shut down, I was host for a AOL-branded site that tried to do the same thing.

    I would have to get online and do “business” and because I was a host, I would get random strangers that IM’d me to “talk.”

    My auto-response message had the words “Bugger off.” I was ‘CENSURED’ because it didn’t fit their “wholesomeness,” or some crap. I quit soon after, disengaged from AOL and the rest, as they say, is history.

    BWAHAHAHAHA.

    Margis last blog post..Busy. . .

  11. I haven’t figured out social networking. I think I joined your neighborhood or something on Yahoo and that’s as far as I got. Am I still in your neighborhood? Never mind. If I don’t even know what neighborhood I’m in who cares?

    Every now and then when I don’t get around to things it turns out to be good fortune. Being busy with other things sometimes is its own reward.

    I’m still trying to figure out RSS feeds.

    Annes last blog post..The Rear-End is Near — and Naked

  12. I’ve tried a bunch of them and, with the exception of LinkedIn for maintaining a network, I’ve found most of the rest to be worthless. I wind up getting bits in pieces of stuff that I’m really not a part of and really do not want to be a part of. Meh.

    Jeffs last blog post..Worst Signature Phrase

  13. A true antisocial-networking site would accept a list of, um, let’s call them “acquaintances,” and send them occasional “Buzz off” messages.

    Some folks, of course, will require stronger verbs than “buzz.”

  14. Oooh, and it wouldn’t let people actually sign up, either, because it wanted to be left alone.

  15. Long long ago, back when ‘java’ actually meant ‘coffee’, one would have to use Unix ‘talk’ to communicate to others (or failing that, Netnews).

    Social networks are great if you know how to modulate and know that it’s the fringes of your life; your family is what’s really important. When it’s in moderation (SN that is, not family), I find it most beneficial.

    I’m allergic to the phone, so I enjoy Twitter.

    Barbara Lings last blog post..Twelcome To My Twitter Page!

  16. Margi, I was a Community Leader too, but my forum didn’t require use of IMs, just email. I hosted and kept score for trivia games, ones that started off being sponsored by the San Jose “Murky” News and ended up being called Triviana (I think.)

    Oddly enough, I just got an offer to join a class action suit against AOL for pay as a past “volunteer”. Since it required I vow to pay court costs, etc if the suit isn’t successful, I’m not joining. I seldom worked more than my free account was worth and I would have been there playing the games anyway. I knew what they were doing was illegal, but what I did wasn’t so I did it anyway ;-)

    I miss those trivia games. I wonder if there’s something equivalent on IRC somewhere.

  17. I’m fairly allergic to the phone, too. Every time it rings I tend to get nauseous.

    Btw, loved your interview in SEOMoz!

    Venomous Kates last blog post..Ignorant Obama and the 57 States

  18. This is how I feel about Facebook. I don’t understand why I want hug you or feed your pet or make you a zombie.

    Lisas last blog post..Need A Healthy Snack?

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