Monday, December 20, 2010

Who Needs to Know What (Part I)

This is going to be a two-parter, gang, so buckle in tight. Think of it as an early Christmas/late Hanukkah/[fill-in-the-appropriate-sense-time for whatever-belief-system-you-might-have holiday] gift. Yeah, I know... I am one of the greatest living humanitarians. You're all welcome.

So apparently the Facebook kid barely beat me out for Time's Person of the Year. It was a shrewd move on the magazine's behalf, but one that recognizes the threat Time feels from the media superpower that is Ducks Out Of A Row.

Cue scene.

People from Time magazine and I are standing around. They are looking dapper and bored. I'm wearing an ascot and hip sunglasses, sitting in a bright red sleigh that is connected to eight or nine reindeer, depending on the fogginess of the situation. We are outside a trendy burrito shack on the fashionable eastside of a major metropolitan area. It might be your town, you really aren't sure. But then you look to the distance and see the city's famous landmark and you know that you're home. Then you begin to wonder how you entered the scene or what you are even doing in this section? And what is up with the midstream POV switch?

Uh, moving along...

"He doesn't even lowercase the letters in the blog's name like he's supposed to," say the people at Time, shooting me a "we're not only holier than thou, we're also more judgmental" look.

"You're just jealous," say I, shooting them a "you might be holier and more judgmental than me, but I'm totally rocking these shades" look. (My signature look, pretty much.)

The Time people stand around; perplexed expressions are drawn on their stupid faces from my witty response. (Yes, I sunk to "their stupid faces." No, I'm not proud.)

I give an authoritative nod of my head and fly off in my sleigh. (Well, I am making this seasonal for all of you...)

End scene.

Back to the kid who started the Facebooks... Marky Mark -- as all the cool kids are calling him -- created the social networking site.

(How's that for in-depth journalism, Time Magazine? Take that, suckas! Advantage: The Ducks.)

Now, I have no particular qualms about The Markster, Mark-O-Rama, The Markinator (I could do this all day, folks.). His creation, on the other hand...

Alright, here's the deal. I'm on the Facebooks. I log in every once in a while to see what other people are doing, because I care about them. I've reconnected with some old friends. I post a new status about once every month and a half. It is obviously very, very, very important to me. Some would say "vital to my life," but they would be wrong. It is my life.

Note: Sarcasm doesn't always translate the best via a written context, but I can keep trying for those who are slow on the uptake. No? You're good? Cool.

See, the "keeping up with people" part is something I could very well do with or without the site. I have a phone and email, I'll read letters if someone wanted to go that route. Heck, I will even learn to interpret smoke signals if that's what it takes. I don't need Facebook to do this. (Especially not the smoke signals part.)

Now, I did reconnect with some old friends through the site. I suppose that's a good thing. Not sure if there are any others out there I'm particularly interested in finding again, though. Seems to me that it has kind of run the course with regard to its usefulness in that function.

I have a blog -- hopefully this doesn't come as news to any of you -- so the need to post status updates makes me feel "meh," especially for someone who likes to sprawl while writing (not in the literal sense).

From my perspective, the Facebook kid was named Person of the Year for creating something kind of useless. But, thanks to Wikipedia -- See, I can keep with a theme! -- I found out that the fake Marky Mark (figured I should specify that we aren't talking about the original "Marky Mark" Wahlberg here) is on par with Hitler, Stalin and Al Capone.

Note: Capone was actually never Time's Man of the Year.

Second note: I had already known -- and didn't have to use Wikipedia -- the fact that Hitler had received the distinction. (Bet they'd like to have that one back, huh?)

Basically, Time Magazine is saying that the kid is pure evil.

Personally, I wouldn't go that far. Sure, his invention might be pure evil. (Facebook has been described by a truly wise man -- or my youngest brother... either way -- as being one of the signs of the Internet apocalypse. And I pretty much agree.) But I don't understand why Time hates him so much as to compare the kid to murderous dictators. That just seems like a really low blow to me.

Okay, I should stop journalistically reporting on Time's hatred of the Facebooks kid and bring this home for today’s big close...

My problem with Facebook -- and the entire movement of the Information Age -- is that we, as a society, are drastically over-sharing. I'm of the mindset that not everyone needs to know everything. (Keep that in mind for my next post!) Even amongst family and friends, constant contact and communication is not necessarily a good thing. It's kind of like how being a complete hermit isn't healthy, either. Everything in life requires a delicate balance, and personal interactions are no exception.

I understand the concept of social networking, but have a strong inclination toward authentic relationships. I cannot have genuine relationships with 1000’s of people. Technically speaking, no one can. Dunbar’s Law of 150 – which I feel is a valid theory – dictates that the human mind is only able to maintain stable social relationships with a finite amount of individuals. (I’ll let you guess the number…)

When we exceed 150 people in our respective “tribes,” there are likely to be an abundance of social “free riders,” people who use a social network without contributing. With this concept, the relationships cannot possibly be genuine. There has to be give and take in a relationship, and free riders are only going to take

Anyhow, I'm pretty sure that Marky Mark's goal is to connect everyone on earth, but is that really necessary? Does it make sense to have hundreds and hundreds -- or even thousands -- of "friends" in a social network? If 150 stable social relationships is the cap, then what's the point?

To be continued…

Editor’s note: Early on, the writer alluded to this being the first of two posts on the topic. He might have underestimated and there is certainly the potential for a three-part series. We’ll just have to see where he goes with this all. (Trust me on this, it’ll be way more nerve-racking for me than you.)

Writer’s note: Nerve-racking? Pffff. You don’t know what stress is until you’ve braved the north face of K2, you jack wagon!

Editor’s note: He’s never mountain climbed… and I’m going to need some booze.


  1. Well. This was quite the post, my friend. I'm not sure what to say.

    As a social-media whiz, I would be remiss to say anything negative about any social media. But I WILL...'cause I think Facebook sucks. I hate it.
    Hate is a strong word, so I'll say it again in case you missed it: I HATE it.

    It's stupid and slow and doesn't load and has no sense of direction and it SUCKS.

    Other than that, I thought your post was the cats meow!

    (Where's my meds?)

  2. I think your post has merits. Here's why. I've known a lot of free riders over the course of my life. Now, if I were to keep on meeting people and fill them up with those who aren't free riders, then I'll definitely be doing myself a favor in the long run.

    Facebook works great in keeping me in contact with family and friends I haven't spoken to in a while. That said, I won't really use it for more than that intent.

  3. Time didn't get my vote. I would have put you on the cover as the most important person of the year. Who needs facebook anyway.

    I totaly(did I really use totaly)agree that 1000 friends on facebook makes you a lonely person. If you are connecting with all 1000 you are doing nothing else. How sad.


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