Tuesday, January 10, 2012

For Twitter Display

 baby barolo bunting by Margot Barolovia www.babygeared.com

Welcome to the world, Blue Ivy Carter!  Amongst a great deal of buzz, drama, and excitement (none of it experienced by me, btw), Beyonce and Jay-Z finally delivered what is probably the luckiest damn baby to be born all year. 

But that's not the most interesting part of the story.  The best part of this story actually happened on Michelle Williams' Twitter feed (now there's a sentence that has never, ever been heard before).  In an apparent response to harassing posts from several followers and fans, Michelle stood her ground for not congratulating her long-time friend and ex-band mate via Twitter.  She wrote, "I do NOT have to say congrats to someone when they're NOT on twitter...ESPECIALLY when I talk or email them all the time....or when I'll be physically present as well...so harrassing and stalking my timeline to see if I've mentioned something is POINTLESS!!! My friendship with people aren't always for twitter display."  This post does many things (aside from abusing all laws of punctuation, grammar, and spelling), but what I love about it most is that it highlights the truth about how all these social platforms truly function. 

I know a lot has been said about the voyeuristic nature of social sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and even (gasp!) blogging sites like Blogger and WordPress (among many, many others).  There are so many new social norms that it can be easy to let this story fall by the wayside; analyzing the way these platforms have "changed" the nature of social interactions is like holding onto your old cassette tapes and complaining about how much the music industry has "changed".  And yet, the phrase, "My friendship with people aren't always for twitter display", hits deep into my bones.
Posting and tweeting with your friends is subtly deceptive.  It tricks the brain into believing that you have actually spent time with them.  You feel more closely connected, and there is some degree of truth to that feeling, in that you have created a "shared" experience with them.  And yet, there was no 'real-time' connection.  This type of asynchronous relationship relies as much on the presence of an 'audience' as it does the presence of a 'friend'.  In many ways, this experience doesn't retain its authenticity if there are no observers to verify the time-stamp.  They are merely thought-processes.  Ideas that we had, that we then posted online so that others could validate that we had these ideas.  And that's where Michelle WIlliams is right, if we are actually spending time with our intimate circle of friends, we don't need to post our well-wishes, apologies, and salutations for the rest of the world to validate.  In other words, we aren't talking, we are being. 

So if you want to connect with someone, try to reach out to them in real time.  Seek out ways in which your moments can intersect, and be present with the people who make life a much better place.  

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