I fell on the floor laughing this weekend from a new commercial that was both imaginative and gave a social commentary that I thought was justified. It starts with a twenty-something girl sitting alone at a table with her computer talking about reading an article on “older Americans” becoming socially withdrawn. She smugly reported that she got her parents to join Facebook and they only have nineteen friends. Then it flashes to her parents, getting bikes out of a car (this is a car commercial) and going riding with other real people, actually interacting them! It ends with this smug girl saying she has 600 – something Facebook friends. She turns back to her computer, absorbed. Now that’s living!
Being a member of the ever-enlarging older generation, I thought about all the advances that have emerged in the last ten or so years and, well, I honestly think we should at least curb our appetites for them. I have a smart-phone and, yes, I do check my emails and text on it. I am guilty of wanting to jump up and grab the phone when those little pings go off. Most of the time the emails are just advertisements from places I have ordered merchandise from but sometimes I get emails from friends. In no case are any of the emails emergencies. The texts aren’t emergencies either (I have this mental image of one of my friends, bleeding, broken and trying to type “help” on those itty bitty keys; blood gets all over the phone, his fingers slip…well you get the picture). I guess if anyone I know has an actual emergency they will use the phone and CALL. So why do I jump up and run to the phone? I have been conditioned. Pavlov would be so proud! I do admit that texting is handy when it is a person you don’t particularly have time to talk to. Sometimes I wish my mother would text, thereby sparing me hours of talking about people I don’t know or people I don’t know who have died. It would be simple “Mary Sue Billingsly died this AM of psoriasis.” There I have been informed and I don’t even, under texting etiquette, have to respond. That saved me the long and gory details of her lingering death and at least thirty minutes on the phone. As for checking my emails, well, the smart phone saves me time - that I will admit. I don’t have to boot up the computer and scroll through them all. I already know which ones I need to answer, thanks to my handy little phone.
Now, to infuriate most of you: I hate Facebook! Google “Facebook” Boolean-connected with “waste of time.” You will get articles, some by psychologists, that state Facebook is the procrastinator’s best friend. Other articles talk about how the person starts up-dating their page on Facebook only to look up and four or five hours have passed. It sucks you in until you are completely submerged in the on-line life of someone else. I used to have a Facebook page until someone, a person who had a strong dislike for me and who I wouldn’t “friend,” tried to break into my account. Gabriel from Facebook shut it down and informed me I had a new password. I used the new password, shut it down and haven’t looked back since. I got tired of seeing everyone’s kids, dogs, cats, birds, reptiles or whatever posted on my Wall. I also got tired of the fish and farm games plastered over everything. Geez people, do you have a LIFE? Come to my farm and deal with the real thing. One other thing I noticed upon my Google search – Facebook is now cited in at least twenty percent of the divorces filed each year. Seems people are reconnecting with old flames and leaving their spouses or they are conducting an emotional affair that eventually leads to divorce. It’s way too easy to talk using Facebook (planning your escape from that humdrum marriage) than it is to sneak around and meet in person. And, if you’re smart, a lot less likely to be caught!
Yes, I can hear those of you out there who say that it’s wonderful to look on an editor or agent’s Facebook account and learn all there is to know about that person. It gives you an advantage. Seriously? Do you honestly think they put their real information out there for some Ted Bundy-like person to glom information to be used? I don’t think so (How many of you writers use pseudonyms?). I could be wrong but in this day and age if you really put information out there that could cause you harm, you must be like the idiotic girl in the commercial. Now that’s living… in fear or just plain stupidity. At any rate, if your work isn’t good, all the information you have on that person is just useless information because knowing Katie Harbowitz (made-up editor name) uses Bounty isn’t going to get you signed for a million-dollar book deal. I guess I don’t get it. Person to person networking still seems more sensible and advantageous. I also understand that a lot of you use this to connect with friends and family. Fine but have you thought about the time you just spent on-line? Time you could have been using to actually spend quality face-to-face time with your family or friends. I know most of you will blast me for this so go ahead, hit me with your best shot. I still think people need to connect as living, social, creatures.
And the bluebird of happiness: Twitter! I got a big surprise when I opened the August issue of RWR and read the column “The Last Word” by Mindy Klasky because the use (or overuse) of electronics was going to be my blog subject for this week. In it she voiced a lot of things about Twitter. Her main problem with the medium seems to be that she didn’t like doing it; she didn’t like it and that dislike shown through. I wouldn’t want to Tweet either, maybe because I don’t need everyone to know what I am doing and where I am doing it. I also think that it is too easy to put your random thoughts out there and, whoops, you really didn’t mean it (shades of Gilbert Gottfried – bet he wishes he’d quacked instead of tweeted!). As for following someone on Twitter, well, I don’t know about that. I don’t have a Twitter account so I have never done it. I am sure it gets you information a lot faster – he/she sold a nine-book deal to X publishing. If it’s your friend, then I suppose it’s wonderful news. I just don’t see the necessity. Someone out there clue me in on this. I can’t see following other people’s lives in 140 character blurbs.
So, in conclusion, I guess I should go harness the horses to the buggy, grab my bonnet and head to town since I am so hopelessly out of sync with the modern world. I just can’t see spending so much time on these things. I already waste enough time trying to build a fire in the cookstove…
Tell me your opinion on Facebook, texting, and Twitter. I know many of you have valid arguments against my position. Please try to remember I am easily swayed and bribes, well, bribes without Jean’s knowledge, will be accepted.