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.