"Wealth will increasingly be defined by our ability to go offline whenever we want." - Fernando Gros
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Blog // Thoughts
January 2, 2009

The Whole Damned Online Thing

One thing I don’t like about social networking is the way applications and communication streams can breed added and perhaps unnecessary complexity in our lives. I appreciate the benefits of sustaining and developing friendships, but I’m loathe to invest any more time in “virtual” networks. These past months I’ve been fighting the episodic urge to […]

One thing I don’t like about social networking is the way applications and communication streams can breed added and perhaps unnecessary complexity in our lives. I appreciate the benefits of sustaining and developing friendships, but I’m loathe to invest any more time in “virtual” networks.

These past months I’ve been fighting the episodic urge to pull the plug on blogging. 2008 was a fractured year, with spells of great creativity and industry mixed amongst periods of angst and barrenness in a way that was more marked and palpable than I have ever experienced. My disquiet with blogging is really a symptom of something else – I’m just not enjoying computers, my uncomfortable chair, my personally uninspiring city, the lack of space and the limitations of my current studio.

Although I’ve been posting a lot of blogs recently, as I clear the vast cache, throughout 2008 my blogging slowed down to 10-12 posts a month; a lot less than it used to be. I’d probably like to to be putting 5-6 more posts out a month and if I restarted posting film reviews, together with a few drafts of my writing on film and globalisation, that would get me there. Overall, I’m happy with the substance of the blogposts, but I have to acknowledge that in 2008 there was more global politics and less global spirituality than I would have hoped for.

I’ve also been using facebook and twitter, though in different ways. For a long time I wanted both platforms to do the same thing, but I’ve decided that might be sub-optimal. Facebook is a broad church and more of a biographical directory. I appreciate that, but many (perhaps most?) of the connections are not active. It’s like relational velcro dragged over my biography. So, I’ve decided to use status updates there in only the broadest sense. By contrast, Twitter is much more active (and my following smaller and more specific), so it’s a good place to jot down thoughts, quotes and asides (the kind of stuff that doesn’t quite merit a full blogpost). You can track that feed at https://twitter.com/fernandogros

Whilst I still find online forums a good place for information, I’m no longer keen on the format. In fact, I’ve started to feel as though it is a little dysfunctional – like listening to taped recordings of football chants. I still read the local ex-pat forum, GeoExpat, which is informative, but still subject to the same problems that best all forums (randomness of interaction).

In fact, the whole idea of hanging out online is becoming problematic for me. I’m not sure it’s a good example to young kids when they see their parents constantly diverted by facebook, blackberrys or whatever it might be. I’m not becoming a luddite (I hope), but I am becoming all too aware that as parents we are role models for bad behaviour to a greater extent than we might care to admit. I do believe that social networking can be a good and we can teach our kids to use it to reinforce real relationships, develop creative productivity and have fun. But, that has to start with setting limits for ourselves and controlling our use of the media – rather than letting it control us.

Responses
Jason Clark 14 years ago

Hi mate,

Happy new year!

2008 was a change for me, and I found twitter and facebook liberating, in that it allowed me to interact with others away from the tyranny of a blog posting schedule, and develop relationships that worked better in each of those spaces.

I’m going to be blogging less, but in more depth, I hope, and using twitter and facebook for updates about stuff, as you suggest.

Can’t image my blog reader without you in it 🙂 Thanks for all you put up in 2008 and looking forward to 2009.

Mike Mahoney 14 years ago

I’ve found also that I have different uses for Twitter and Facebook. Twitter is largely for keeping in touch with my online community, while Facebook is more for keeping up with the folks I know in the flesh. Facebook has become pretty invaluable for keeping up with and communicating with both the members of our youth ministry as well as the worship team and choir that I play for.

As well, I’ve connected with old friends and family, especially those in far off lands. This has been gratifying, to say the least.

I thought Twitter would be completely useless, but I drank the Kool-Aid anyway, and now find it very useful. Actually, interesting would be a better word than useful, I suppose. I find people fascinating.

As to the status update issue, I solved that with the Twitter app on Facebook – it pulls the feed from Twitter. I haven’t manually updated Facebook since I got Twitter. And Twitter pulls my blog feed, so when I post my blog Twitter and Facebook automatically update.

Toni 14 years ago

Interesting that you should post this around the same time I expressed my feelings about Facebook. I joined FB to develop relationships with those locally that use it, but instead it’s become a source of annoyance. The more I use it, the more it seems to be nothing more than a mobile phone substitute that enables one to demonstrate stupidity in a more permanently public manner.

As for twitter, I already use twitter-style blogposts anyway (like last night when I was so tired) for things that don’t require dense communication.

Donald 14 years ago

Quality not quantity in posting blogs. Social networking does seem to add a level of complexity to our lives. I do know people because of it and it has also been enriching.

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