I had an epiphany last night, while pondering the complexity of our social world (something that I have been doing a lot since Spider-gate). It is not an epiphany I am entirely comfortable with.
Here we are. Class of 2010. Absolute gurus (for want of an overused term) in the social sphere. We share entire languages. Thousands of them. We have developed infinite forums of communication just in case we ever run out of ways to let our friends know how marvellously we’re doing. We even, god praise us, liaise with other countries on a daily basis.
Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, MySpace, LinkedIn, mobiles, fax, email, instant messaging, Blackberry messenger, Morse Code… we’ve done it, world! We are the communicators of the Universe!
So why is it, then, that we can’t pass someone we work with in the street without having to hide behind a skip to save ourselves from the dreaded fate of saying “Hello”? Why is it that when someone from the past (or even the present) emerges upon our horizon of the never ending sea of faces we sail each day, that we Freak Out?
I apologise if your one of those tolerant souls who quite happily goes all the way back to the M&S que to say hi to Roger from I.T. You may ignore me. But I.Really Am. Not. I am an Avoider*
We, the Avoiders, are quite happy to accost the local lollipop lady on the zebra crossing, filch her gleaming coat and neon sign, shove her behind a car, silence her with Percy Pigs and pose in her place purely to avoid Archibald, that odd-bod we knew in second year. There’s nothing wrong with Archibald the odd-bod. It is just far simpler to avoid him than go to go through the obligatory and awkward small talk. Neither of us wants it, so why sign up for it? It is far easier to assail a lollipop lady and write a casual “Heyyyy, sorryyyyy, think I passed you on the street the other day, hope you’re well” on Archibald’s cyber-wall later that evening, from behind the shield of our Macs (Dells).
I’m a sociable being I am. Not a day goes by that I don’t ‘re-connect’ with someone via Facebook, not a walk home am I off my phone, not a diet coke break am I not texting with the hand not in the fridge. BUT when it comes to spending my precious little spare time unnecessarily communicating with those I’ve intended to speak to never again? Spare me!
Interesting, then, that an Avoider like me chooses to begin a career in social media, relentlessly invades the personal cyber space of others and is generally very e-loud. All.day.long.
My epiphany being, then, that we the social media obsessees of our culture aren’t really as sociable as we like to imagine. In fact, it is quite possible we just find it easier to connect with the world virtually coz the physical reality is too damn much. Maybe not so communicative after all?
So next time I am proudly telling the world I work in social media yah yah and I just love communicating yah yah, I will remind myself that actually the more time I am spending ‘communicating’ via various dot.coms, the less time I’m spending bumping into the bloke(s) I (used to) drunk-dial. Maybe not such a bad thing. Hmmm, anti-social media anyone?
*Though an Avoider avoids certain social situations, I must clarify that this is not applicable to run-ins with their nearest and dearest. I Love You ALL.