05 October 2007

The Perils of Social Networking

After a few solid years of sordid social networking, I decided to commit social networking suicide and a few months ago I deleted my MySpace profile. I felt like I'd just lost 500 lbs. Then today I saw this on Gawker:

"I ran into a couple I know but haven't seen for a while last night. "Oh my god, you guys, congratulations!" I gushed.
"Thanks but... how did you know we got ngaged?" the male half of the couple, who is the one I'm better friends with, asked. And I realized that I had read it in his Facebook profile. Also, that I was going to have to admit that."

And it reminded me of something I'd been thinking about for a while; the surreptitious stalking and vicarious information gleaning on these "social networking" sites. How do you explain it to someone?

When you run into so-and-so whom you haven't seen in person in months, but you stalked their profile a bunch of times, you know so-and-so isn't with Chad anymore, she's with Glen now and Glen is still leaving comments for Monique but so-and-so doesn't know that because Monique isn't in her extended network; what do you do?! Do you tell so-and-so? How do explain that you know she's with Glen now if she's never told you herself? Do you let on that you stalk her profile? Everyone does it; EV-ERY-ONE.

I mean, who doesn't love surreptitiously watching relationships develop and get demolished on these sites?

First theres some cute pawing at each other, flirty picture comments and the like, then it gets serious, its intense, lots of romantic pablum and "I'm so lucky" posts, then it starts to deteriorate, no comments for a few days, weeks, so-and-so drops down a few slots in the "Top 8" or "Top 24" or whatever, before you know it Harry is number #2 in her tops and Glen is all the way down in the last row with the bands! Then one day Glen is gone altogether and so-and-so status now says "single".

And this is how we "socially network" in 2007; in lieu of speaking or mingling, we electronically stalk each other and spy on each other. How gross!

We glean like dirty voyeurs, even discussing it with others who also "know" but then when we finally run into these people we feel like we're privy to info that they don't know we're privy to; and its not our fault; they've put it on display. Some people obviously love to have their lives like open books on these sites. It's a very, very odd phenomenon.

When is right to play dumb? Would you let someone tell you an entire story that you feel you already know because you've watched it unfold on their MySpace page?

I've been thinking of writing a book about relationships in the new era of social networking sites; the pro's and con's, the downfalls and the advantages. I know some people, guys and girls, who use it as their pimp hand, and some who blame it for destroying that very same flow. When Tonya sees what Tamika said on your page, your cover is blown. You've gotta go underground. I'm sure there must be so many tales out there of relationships and heartbreak all thanks to these sites and the fresh and foreign situations they inspire.

MySpace may be done with its BETA version, but we as humans are still figuring out how to handle their invention.

That's why I've decided to deal in reality only from now on; if not face to face than letters with stamps and that's it.

Ugh. It's Friday. I'm going home. I've gotta go check my AOL like its '95.

Have a good weekend everybody! HOLLA!

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