Sunday, April 25, 2010
I know what you're thinking: "You? No. Really? You micro-blogged all the way from Little Rock to Lake Charles and back, and you think you might be obsessed with social media? You solipsistic little moron." And you would not be remiss in calling me a moron. Or solipsistic, for that matter.
The fact is I don't really know how I got sucked into the vortex that is social networking. I started blogging back in 2004—about two months before Meriam-Webster declared "blog" The Word of the Year. I had read an article about the phenomenon in The New York Times, liked the idea, and decided to give it the old college try. Since my defunct Web site was sitting over at Tripod doing nothing (I had used it to post my course materials back in 2001—before my university gave us WebCT), I dusted it off, converted it, and Viola, I've been keeping up with it, off and on, ever since. In fact, you can still view the old one at http://tripod.sanslenom.com.
A few years later, my students talked me into registering with Facebook back in the days when you had to have a university e-mail address to use it. I really didn't "get" it and rarely logged in. Then, my colleagues started friending me, the status updates got more mature (or immature, depending on how dim your view of our silly puns, double entendres, purposeful malapropisms) therefore, more interesting, and I was hooked. And I know what you're thinking: "Is it time to call an intervention?"
Things might have been just fine had they stopped there. But, oh, no, Twitter just had to come along. Again, I was an early adopter who mostly just logged in, stared at the screen, wondered how in the heck this thing worked, hit the side of my monitor a couple times to see if that would do anything, and then logged back out. It wasn't until I understood that Twitter was a combination of Facebook status updates and blogging (in 140 characters or less) but with total strangers and that I had to start collecting total strangers to follow me in order to maximize my potential that I "got" it. And, now, you can't shut me up. To make matters worse, I figured out how to connect Twitter to Facebook, bought a smart phone, and have started tweeting from everywhere.
-->Begin slight digression: You know how far things have come when Windows no longer underscores "tweeting" with a red squiggly line.<--End slight digression.
My heart skips a beat every time the phone tells me something has come through e-mail or these other two social media. And maybe that's the source of my obsession. I just know that the more I post, the more other people comment, write on my wall, retweet, or reply. It's a lot like the pen pals I had when I was growing up—if I wanted a letter, I had to send one—and how dearly I wanted to get letters. There was something so much more powerful about the written word over the spoken one. And I got really good at keeping lists of things I could write about in my next letter. I was probably just as exhausting a pen pal as I am a Facebook Friend or Twitter Follow.
However, everyone has a limit. I just read an article about Foursquare posted by one of my tweeple, jeanlucr (yes, I'm now so obsessed that I read about my obsession and use lame words like "tweeple"). And I realized that this is the "game" another one of my tweeple is "playing" when he says, "I just became the mayor of Palm Beach!" Well, I couldn't pass up this opportunity, right? No way! So I went over to Foursquare.com and got an account, mainly to see if any of my Facebook friends or tweeple from Conwag are on it (uh, that would be no), poked at it a little to see if it would move, and thought about the implications: "Wow, this social network uses the location services of my smart phone to tell people where I am so we can arrange chance meetings! The more I post about where I am in Conwag, the more points I could get! Even possibly becoming honorary mayor!" I, then, remembered squealing out loud as I was speeding down a rather busy freeway when my Palm Prē notified me I had just crossed state and time lines and that it had adjusted itself accordingly. I'll admit I was Gollum with My Precious (hmmm, maybe that's where they picked up the name?) when I first got the thing.
And don't get me wrong. I still loves it.
But the idea of me metaphorically stalking myself all around Conwag and proclaiming myself its mayor plunges from mere solipsism to downright perversity, possibly even psychosis, but maybe I'm being paranoid...or grandiose?
At any rate, the bigger problem is that it does, in fact, give someone, not that anyone would want to, ample opportunity to literally stalk me—albeit, they would be stalkers of my own choosing and whom I've carefully instructed on how to find my exact location from My Prec...the phone that is constantly tracking me.
Still, I can see this quickly going awry: "Hey, I'm out on the walking trail at Bell Slough all by myself—all 103 pounds of me. Meet me at the photo blind! And while we're at it, here is my latitude and longitude, within 25 feet. Really enjoying the sunshine, solitude, and beautiful scenery, which, by the way, is also a great place to dump a body."
No, this is too much information. Information I obviously can't be trusted with (note to self: don't mention current location in blog). So I think I'll stay off the Foursquare bandwagon.
Well, you know, until all this social networking makes me even more moronic than I already am.