in your heart – the guilt of social networking

it’s been a blurry, hot, and sweaty morning afternoon day here on my nasally congested and scratchy throated coach, which means it’s a great time for me to connect to the internet.

here i mean “connect” in the most active of senses, in that one can from the internet most certainly, and willfully, “disconnect”.  you can still be looking at facebook and twitter and sports scores and emails and song lyrics and updates, but it can be done from behind a mask: the veil of disconnectivity.

from behind this veil, we disconnects wander our own personal corner of the internet.  are you a cheezburger cute-overloader?  or are you a boing-boing maker?  or maybe a redhead-loving pornhubber? (you’ll have to fill in with your own links there) whatever you are, that’s the internet you see.  the sawed-off arm of the internet upon which you personally feast metonymically is all that there is.  cnn.com?  amazon?  your friend’s blog?  another’s facebook photo album?  that’s all on the outside.  you’re here, on the inside, where it’s all warm and cozy.  this is where it’s happening, man!  you don’t need to tell people you’re here.  if they want to find you they will.  don’t make it too easy–the breadcrumbs are too tasty and delicious to leave behind for others…

this disconnectedness is part of a vicious cycle, as from it i derive a source of disconnectedness, one of my thickest humors: guilt.

without rolling for you the tape of my not-yet-filmed autobiography (though a serious man is a close approximation, in some regards), guilt and i have a long history.  i am a connoisseur of the jewish strain, though with the italian, russian, and irish i am also somewhat versed.  the thing about guilt is that people don’t make you feel guilty.  you make yourself feel guilty.  it’s this horrible self-starting automaton connected on the inside, and once it’s taken hold, you are bound as its host.

oh sure, there are ways to cope.  well, there’s really only one way:  that’s this disconnection.  if i stop reading twitter feeds, then i’m not noticing that i’m not tweeting on my own.  if i stop looking at photo albums, i can neglect that haven’t sorted and filtered and captioned and uploaded my own photos.  if i stop chatting with my friends and family, i can forget that i’m not chatting with them!

you can see that this comes from a good place*.  i only want to contribute to the world in which i embed myself in ways that are appropriate and benefit others.  when i don’t feel fully capable of doing that, i just check the f^@& out, and then we’re all happy, right*?  i’m not disappointing myself and other people aren’t being disappointed.  perfect*.

however, our social networks are so intricately interlinked, you can’t actually check the f^@& out.  the veil is all but opaque as the search for neglect and forgetfulness fails in the face of facebook, twitter, and now, google+.  the tentacled and zombified social networks that bind the rotting corpse of the internet together have woven their way into your perfect little cul-de-sac of DIY kitten fetishism.  your escape has been tampered with and now it’s your move.

pulling out from that not-a-through-street, i remember that the reason i’m here at this moment is that i’m sick.  nasally congested, and sore throated.  and that today i connected to the internet.  and what was i driven to do? posting a gripe about the circularity of guilt, the inevitability of the internet, and the dangling adverb of another immaterial noun.

this is an interesting cycle as well: where my connectedness has spurred on a guilt-deterring maneuver.  which has indeed kept me glued to not only the starred items in my google reader, but also to second, third, and fourth clicks away.  i’ve left my g+, twitter, and facebook tabs open and read through them the old-fashioned way (no tweetdecks or iphones for help), and i even chatted with a friend or two.  this connectedness felt amazing, and now i’m writing about how amazing it felt, which makes me feel amazing!

but wait…is this post too long?  will people read it?  oh you’re so stupid david.  you haven’t done anything today!  this aluminum leech sitting on your lap has just sucked time out of your very breath.  just save this as a draft and rework it for later.  once it’s a better piece you can share it with the world.  until then, just go back to your home-made cute-and-furry handcuff designs and forget you were ever a friend with the internet…

* this is some A-1 guilt talk coming up.  future instances are *starred* for reference

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One Response to “in your heart – the guilt of social networking”

  1. David Siegel Says:

    I am working on a humanistic framework for technology use that will help people use technology in ways that do not adversely affect their hearts, minds, or bodies. Here’s is the root maxim (work in progress):

    Use technology carefully, with intention, for good.

    I hope you find it useful.

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