Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rainbows and Stickers and Ponies and Myspace!

Hello, Blogdom! I'm sorry to have neglected you for so long. I was away from the land of Blogdom on a business trip to Reality. Actually, I've checked out of Reality for quite some time now, but getting back on the blog train is hard sometimes. I have received mountains of fan mail, filled with urgent wishes that I again grace you with my wit and beautifully constructed sentences. As one fan stated, "your words are like the air I breathe."*
*I have never received any fan mail, and I'm pretty sure that no more than 8 people (at best) even read this.

I have been thinking about things I do now, that I once thought I would never do. Let me expound on a few:

I never thought that I would ever join an online social networking site, yet many of you are here because my Facebook status beckoned you here like a melodious mermaid. The way I saw it before, social networking sites were an outlet for ego-driven people to inflate their self image for . . . who? Other ego-driven people on the same site, doing the same thing. People I knew, on Myspace in particular, spent the majority of their time on their own profile page making sure it looked good for their friends. But, their friends never saw their profile page because they were too busy making their profile page look good. It's like a hamster wheel of narcissism. I never wanted to join the sites, because it reminded me of talking to a girl that you're on a date with who spends the entire time doing her make-up in a compact mirror when all you want to do is have a conversation.

Then you get the "friend padders", the ones who will arbitrarily add people to their friends list just so it appears as though they are actually popular. And the people they are requesting to be friends with are just as insecure as them, so of course they will accept. It benefits both parties. But, seriously, who really has 3,000 friends?

So why did I join the world of Facebook, you ask? Well, after moving 1,000 miles away from home, I soon discovered that it was a great way to stay in contact with really good friends and especially my family. But, I still have encounters with the people I was just talking about. I finally cracked down on it and deleted some "friends". One day, I was reading the status update of one of my Facebook "friends" when I realized that I had no idea who that person is. I checked her profile page and discovered that she had well over 3,000 friends. I don't remember requesting her friendship, and I don't remember accepting her request to be my friend. I commented on her status the following: "I just realized that I have no idea who you are. I don't want to look stupid if you happen to be a long lost cousin of mine, but my memory is failing me. Please tell me how you know me, and if you don't know me, I'm going to respectively exclude you from my personal life." Ok, I didn't say those exact words, but pretty close. She never responded, I deleted her. I hardly ever request friendship anymore because I'm pretty much friends with everyone that I'm actually friends with in real life. Occasionally, I get the friend request, and it's often from a person that I know, but I only know them from some obscure recollection and I hardly would give them a courtesy smile on the street. I usually neither accept or ignore their request so that it leaves them in a sort of Facebook purgatory.

I did my own experiment. I created another Facebook account with a fictional person, and I started randomly sending friend requests to complete strangers. Within a day, I had hundreds of friends. But, facebook has a rule against requesting too many people within a certain period of time, so I lost interest quickly. After some time, I decided to go back onto my made up person's account and see what was happening in made-up land. A funny thing happened: My made up character had about 20 friend requests of his own! And these requests were from the stereotypical social networkers whose profile picture is a photo of a mirror reflection with them wearing skimpy clothing (if they're females) or with their shirt off completely (if they're males). I thought it was hilarious. I accepted their friendships and came back a few days later, and had a few more requests! I finally decided that enough is enough, and I started to ask the requesters if they had any idea who I was. Most of them responded by using very obscene language and insulted my mother. Real classy, right? But they didn't know that my fictional person's mother died while giving birth, so the joke is on them.

Status updates on facebook seriously get out of hand. I don't need to know every inane thought that you have. I don't need to know how long you just pooped. I don't really care what you had for dinner unless it's really unique. Let's be creative here! I especially hate the melodramatic, yet ambiguously depressing statuses, like "When will my life no longer be a living hell?" To me, it seems like a cry for attention, and Facebook just isn't the venue for wrangling attention, because most everyone is preoccupied with their own attention grabbing frenzy. And now that you can update your status from your phone, it has become even more senseless: "I'm on a date with my wife and we are having dinner at a nice restaurant right now. -Via Facebook for Blackberry-" Well, I bet your wife would love it if you put your phone in your pocket during your dinner date. Maybe she's doing her make-up or something. Then there's the status like, "I just broke my arm!" Well, then get off the freaken computer and go to the doctor! I'll admit, I abuse this one a lot. Sometimes I'm embarrassed by my status updates, and I often use them for self-promotion or for single sentence political blogging. But, hey, it got you here, right? Luckily I don't have a Facebook app on my phone or else I'd really embarrass myself. But at the same time, the Facebook home page feels like a giant room where everyone is yelling and trying to be heard over everyone else, so I know that my statuses just get lost in the crowd.

Speaking of self-inflicted embarrassment, I never, ever thought that I would start a blog. To me, a blog was a means by which self-proclaimed political revolutionaries tried to recruit anyone who would help them push their ideals and fight against "the man". I hate to admit that I have blogged about political issues which is the very reason I hated blogs in the first place. And just to warn you, I have been cooking up one very good political blog that I will undoubtedly unleash on the world very soon. Yeah, usually my blogs are written in one night, but this one is actually taking some time and thought! I can't help it, sorry. Actually, I am trying to convince myself not to do it. One thing I learned when I was a writer for my high school newspaper was that when you write about politics, no one reads your article. And I know some of my high school friends are saying to themselves, "Mike was on the high school newspaper staff?" My point exactly. Actually, once I realized that no one was reading my articles, I wrote this completely insane, tin foil hat conspiracy article about UFO's which got quite a bit of attention. Now my high school friends are saying, "Oh yeah, he WAS on the newspaper staff!"

The next one I absolutely hate to admit, but you were bound to find out sometime soon anyway. I . . . have . . . Twitter. Yes, Twitter. The stupidest social networking site to come into existence so far. Let me attempt to save my dignity: I realized that Twitter is a good business tool when used right. I use it to follow businesses who are going to be releasing certain merchandise at any minute. I follow bands who can update me on new music. And most valuable to me is that I follow certain politicians who are making very important decisions concerning my future. If any of you out there have twitter, do not follow me, because I won't ever tweet. I didn't join so that I could tell you where I am and what I'm doing every second of the day. I did it to stay informed on issues that are important to me. I don't even want to know what other people are doing. I was following one of my favorite musicians. One of his tweets was "I'm taking my kids to school." Woo hoo, you and millions of other people. Delete. Seeing Twitter in light of business, and being one who is currently working on opening a business myself, I saw it as a way to eventually keep my future clients informed. So, yes I have Twitter, but I still don't quite understand it. I mean, what was the motive behind it? "Let's take the most annoying thing about Facebook, and make it the ONLY feature on Twitter." Anyway, one of my friends has already found me on Twitter and is following me. I won't name any names, but his name rhymes with Hike Maycock (don't worry, Mike, I think you're the only one that reads my blog these days). I have to admit also that I have tweeted before. One of the politicians that I follow is Barack Obama. I don't really know why I decided to follow him, I think it's because I like being upset all of the time. Or perhaps I secretly hope that he will invite me to one of his many cocktail parties at "The House" one of these days. But, I think I already blew my chance for that because I've tweeted some pretty mean things to him. Well, not mean, but, you know, "listen to the people, we don't want your stupid Obamacare," or "Barack, stop spending money" sort of things. Just trying to get my voice heard, which is a very difficult thing to do with this administration. Oops, there I go again, I'd better stop. Anyway, I really don't think that my tweets will ever be seen by Barack eyes anyway, so it's futile. Besides, if I want to enjoy a beer with Barack, all I have to do is appear to mistreat a black guy. But, on the plus side, I've picked up the lingo quite well, right? "Tweets" and such.

Anyway, the thing that always bugged me and still bugs me about all these social sites, is the amount of time one spends on them. Just so you know, I'm not singling anyone out except myself (but if you're feeling guilty perhaps you should think twice!). The reason a lot of these things bother me is because I find myself spending precious time doing them! I'm like a bug who can't resist the blue light of the bug zapper. Yes, I am guilty of indulging my life a bit on Facebook. I've done my share of stupid status updates. I've spent irreplaceable time doing quizzes, then passing them onto my friends (and I hate it when that happens to me, by the way). I've blogged about radical political conspiracies and hate-mongering. I've used the word "tweet". It's embarrassing, but there you go. My ambivalence is shooting myself in the foot, but as the saying goes, if life gives you melons, you just might be dyslexic.