I’m working on my thesis full-time these days, and so I don’t really have time for a long post, but this has been bothering me more and more in recent weeks. Everybody needs to just shut up about everything. Sometimes, things change. Other times, things don’t change. This will continue to happen forever. Facebook and Twitter and Google+ don’t care if you like what they are doing. They are trying to appeal to everyone. And surprise (to people who don’t use Twitter or Google+), they are useful tools for communicating with people. Facebook, so far, has been incredible at connecting us with people we’ve already met, or people who are friends with ours and would, in all likelihood, eventually meet anyhow. But it has been just horrible at connecting us with people who are 6 degrees away from us but with whom we would love to share things. These are the spaces that Twitter and Google+ are slowly taking over, much to Facebook’s chagrin. These recent changes though, while being awesome and a big step, still don’t address that issue. And it’s possible it’s not meant to. Perhaps Facebook is happy just being about you and the people you are close to, and if so then it is exactly where it needs to be. But I think it should be more. It should connect you with people who share your interests. You don’t have to be “friends”, but you should be able to connect with people who live 20 minutes away from you, sit on the bus with you on the way to work or school, and share some of your taste in music or a couple of your hobbies. Right now there is no way for you to connect with these people, because in the digital world we have too much interaction with the people we already know that we don’t have time to connect with people we see on a regular basis but have never interacted with. Maybe this is wishful thinking, and I’m sure people would be in an uproar over privacy concerns if algorithms started matching them with people they think would be cool. Anyhow, this started as a rant and I really feel like finishing with one. People need to stop complaining about new social networks (or new technology, or new ANYTHING) or comparing them to what used to exist or what else is already available. The only important thing is, do you have a need for it? If yes, do you use it in the way you expected you would? If yes, shut up. Just stop talking about it. Facebook is only going to continue to improve, and other social networks will continue to try to allow people to network better in an effort to fix all of our broken, disconnected, digital social lives. I, for one, applaud them for even trying. We’re pretty screwed up.
One response to “Social Not-working”
The thing that comes closest to what you suggest regarding connecting with people that share your interests but you don't have to be "friends" for is internet forums. Like you said, it doesn't address the desire to connect with people that are in close proximity to you necessarily, but I don't think that kind of technology is feasible. However, I've always thought that internet forums are a far for functional and effective tool of non-physical communication and connection between people. Sure, there's retardedness everywhere on the interwebs, but if you can mentally filter out and see past this non-substantial content on these internet forums, then the benefit of them to you is almost limitless.
Unfortunately, if you want to connect with your neighbours and bus-mates, you may have to rely on good old-fashioned speaking to each other for the time being.