Networks

Jul. 29th, 2011 08:12 am
krikketgirl: (Friends LJ)
[personal profile] krikketgirl
I was reading a book the other day wherein the author--originally from a small Southern town--endeavored to explain the difference between walking down a street at home and in New York City. What she came up with was the idea of a hive mentality, where each member briefly checks in on the other people sharing their sidewalk with a glance and then hurries on. The point isn't to acknowledge the other person, to catch their eye, to communicate with them; the point is to look, see if there is any obstacle or problem in the vicinity, and then to move on.

Hold that thought while I talk about Facebook and Google+. When I first joined Facebook, I didn't anticipate it becoming a big part of my daily routine. But then I discovered that I could link my photos and my blog to it, and connect with people from my family, my church, my workplace, and people I'd met on trips or at church events. As life went on and I became far busier than I had before, my Live Journal suffered while my Facebook blossomed.

Then, recently, Google+ came on the scene, initially trumpeted as "Google's answer to Facebook." Only as soon as I got set up on Google+, I started seeing all these posts about how it's NOT supposed to be like Facebook, and we poor clueless souls who use it simply as a Facebook-style site are deluded and unhip. All of this has resulted in my using Google+ in addition to Facebook, feeling silly for using it simply for its privacy options, and trying to figure out whether it would be better to just return to my hermit-like cave and start sending smoke signals to my nearest and dearest.

Let's jump back to the hive mentality. Is it friendly? Does it make you feel all warm and collectivistic? No, not at all! But it's not supposed to. It's supposed to help you get to where you're going effectively and to alert you to potential problems on the horizon. It's not a rich form of communication, because all that's needed is a shallow form of communication. This, to me, is what Facebook has been about.

Facebook is supposed to be somewhat shallow. It's about being part of a hive of people, all of whom you know, but not all of whom are as close as others. Facebook lets you get a bite-sized glimpse into their world, an idea of the big patterns in their life and globally, multiple times a day or week. You decide, from there, if you want to get deeper into each person's life.

Live Journal--and other blogging platforms--are a richer form of communication. I say more, and say it more personally. Maybe you read it, maybe you don't. But when you do read and comment, and I comment back, we can build relationships. This is something I've been missing about blogging, and why I'm coming back to it more intentionally.

So where does this leave Google+? For me, it's an awkward thing to use. I don't really have time or energy to go seeking out new content by people I don't know. I like being able to filter posts--that's one big "plus" for me--but I rarely feel a need to use it. It's shiny and new and feels exciting, but it's not meeting either my need for deeper communication or my "hive" need to check in on my acquaintances to see what's happening.

Perhaps I'm missing the picture: what's your take on social networks? What do you use? And why?

Date: 2011-07-29 02:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eattheolives.livejournal.com
That's about how I feel as well. FB is great in its place, but this week or so of having limited LJ access really brought home to me how important a deeper connection is to me. I enjoy so much the RELATIONSHIPS I have here, much more than the small glimpses of lives I find on FB.

As for Google+, some things about it really concern me (like this: http://www.talesfromthe.net/jon/?p=2918 , especially the first comment on the article) and so I plan to stay away for as long as I can. :)

Date: 2011-07-29 09:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mattiescottage.livejournal.com
Thanks for the link on Google+ and the "identity crisis." I've been pretty busy this summer and was unaware of the details of Google+ and its "real name" requirement. Very interesting. I particularly can identify with this quotation:
". . . All of them are established professional women who have excellent reasons to avoid mixing their work-visible streams and their personal streams."
(May I just add an "Amen"?)

While I can accept that the Internet is changing the way we think of and value privacy, there are still a myriad of reasons why it remains a good idea to limit what personal information and statements you share with the entire world.

It does seem a strange paradox, though, that I can be more open and more myself in my LJ comments in part because I have protected my RL anonymity.

Date: 2011-07-29 02:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bluiidmommy.livejournal.com
I agree with you. And while I have a Google+ account, I've used it...once? Facebook and Google+ are impersonal; good for keeping in touch (or reconnecting) with people, but I like blogging to really put down my thoughts and having others share theirs.

Date: 2011-07-29 03:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] heartsoflove.livejournal.com
Good post. :D

I use facebook to get a brief glimpse of what my friends are doing but it's definitely not very personal since everyone sees what you write.

I really do love livejournal. :D I followed my friends from here to facebook but I definitely use lj for my more personal thoughts and emotions. It's just more private. :D

Date: 2011-07-29 04:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tomnoir.livejournal.com
Google+ is very new and needs time before it matures into a useful tool for most people. For me it has so far supplanted Twitter more than Facebook, which is only relevant if one actually USES Twitter.

Date: 2011-07-29 05:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lorelei-n.livejournal.com
Very good post, I have examined my use of FB as well. What I found is that I am more in touch with what's happening in people's lives. Like you say, the checking for obstacles or keeping up with those who have small or large needs. I quickly glance through the posts and scan for anything important...or funny. Who doesn't need a good laugh? Then I move on.

I have however found I have tidbits of information I can share with others I wasn't as close to though. Maybe they mention that their child said something cute or that their dog is sick. I can bring that up to them the next time I see them. Kind of a conversation starter.

On the other hand, there are people on my FB that are there merely out of obligation. I don't like their posts necessarily and truly don't want to be involved, but feel obligated by some tie or another in my life. I have overcome that with some whom I just couldn't bear any longer though and have finally removed.

It is an awkward, not intimate relationship indeed.

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