Me vs The Social Networks…

You wouldn’t know it to look at me but I am a woman in the midst of a deep, emotional crisis… stop looking at me! My hair’s like this because it’s windy out there today! OK!

One question torments me, more so than all those other dilemmas of principle, such as ‘Am I right not to date men who like Mumford & Sons?’ or ‘Is it really morally wrong if I spend the bills money on shoes and Jelly Belly Beans and then pick most of them out and throw them away because they taste like vomit-flavoured soap?’ or ‘Should you have red or brown sauce on a bacon sarnie?’… actually, that last one was just a test – because of course you should always have RED sauce on a bacon butty! If you think differently you are a yeast-challenged neophyte.

No, the question occupying my thoughts most at the moment is…

Is it time to stop using social network sites?

The thing is, there’s just so many of them! If you let yourself, you could literally end up spending most of your existence online and thereby missing out on all the joys of ‘real life’, such as eating mini Babybel at 3am and pretending you’re the Jolly Green Giant, sick of indigestible fucking sweetcorn; doing the Cha Cha Slide after five double vodkas at a family wedding and telling everyone you’re a professional dancer and… getting parking tickets. Yeah, that last one doesn’t really help – ignore that one.

It started, innocently enough, with MSN Messenger. Oh, those happy, carefree days! How easily pleased I was at simply being able to ‘CHAT ONLINE!’ to my friends, to be able to indiscriminately forego punctuation, spelling, grammar and intelligence and end all my sentences with a ‘LOLZ!’ and an inappropriate emoticon. It was the perfect tool – as was I, it could probably be argued – for engendering a better acquaintance with all those lovely new friends I made in chatrooms in the first years of the 21st Century. OK, so maybe most a few of them turned out to be, not so much ‘friends’, as ‘strangers with an urge to show me their genitalia’ – but what’s a few restraining orders amongst ‘friends’, eh? If nothing else, some much-needed lessons were learnt, with MSN Messenger as the teacher – a cross between Mrs Robinson and Miss Jean Brodie, a little bit naughty seducer, a little bit conceited fascist.

But bigger and better slightly bigger things were on their way: 2006 was the MySpace year. It seems hard to believe it now, but MySpace used to be considered the most dangliest part of a dog’s nether region – which, I assure you, was a good thing in those days, and not at all unhygienic. Like the good, little sheep-nerd I was I dutifully signed up and then spent several months doing the four main things that everybody on MySpace did, namely:

  • Changing backgrounds (Snoopy, South Park, Snoopy, Hello Kitty, Snoopy, Something dark and rather Goth-like, Snoopy, Something dark and purple but with flowers so that boys would still know I was a girl, Snoopy)
  • Adding music that I, mistakenly, thought would be sure to impress other people and make them like me, but actually just generated comments such as ‘THE PROCLAIMERS ARE WANK!’ and ‘This is 2006, you fucking loser!’
  • Completing and posting endless quizzes with titles such as ‘What Type Of Saucepan Are You?’ or ‘What’s Your Secret Serial Killer Name?’ and questionnaires about myself which I’m pretty sure nobody but me and half a dozen perverts ever bothered to read.
  • Posting photos of myself and friends in various stages of drunken, red-eyed shame that I will spend the rest of my life trying to track down and destroy all evidence of.

Ah, we thought the magic of MySpace would last forever – but it turns out that ‘forever’ is approximately 18 months in dork years, because along came a trendy, young hipster called Facebook, and just like that MySpace was deemed an antiquated embarrassment that only the elderly and socially challenged could love. Heartless witch that I was, I didn’t even give it a backwards glance before eradicating it from my life with one click of a button. If I had known how much I would come to loathe Facebook I might not have been so quick to scorn.

It has to be said – me and Facebook – we never really gelled from the get go. We were like Lily Allen and Chezza Cole, endlessly circling each other, all big hair, posh frocks and plastic grins on the surface but with a wary undercurrent of malice and insecurity lurking beneath, waiting for the slightest hint of an imagined snub before exploding into a full-on, foul-mouthed bitchfest. There was just something about it, with its stupid wall of deluded lies, its inane status updates – as gripping as a deceased barnacle, the morally suspect obsession with mafiosi thugs and harvesting chickens… oh! And the poking! The FUCKING POKING! It made me want to hunt down Mark Zuckerberg and poke him with a thousand bread knives.

Needless to say, it took very little for Facebook and I to part ways. One bad relationship and what amounted to a hate campaign that followed its demise and I was out of there, faster than Nick Clegg can say ‘betrayal’. As is always the way, things calmed down and my friends and family urged me to return. I thought about it – for about five seconds – then remembered the chickens and poking and advised them to ‘jog on’. Besides, I had found something new to play with. Tsk! Don’t be filthy…

I first joined Twitter in June 2009 with a view to promoting my old blog and interacting with other bloggers, but it just didn’t do it for me back then. You know how Twitter’s many critics sneer and say it’s a bunch of people talking about what they had for lunch? Well, there’s a reason for that – back in 2009 that’s pretty much what the majority of people were doing – and they weren’t even eating anything exciting! There wasn’t so much as a sniff of sushi, a burrito or a Dairylea Dipper. It was just a handful of celebrities promoting themselves in the least imaginative, time-consuming way they could, a whole bunch of spam bots and a few people to whom a slice of luncheon meat would seem like a luxury item. My fascination with it was short-lived and I distastefully put it back on the shelf where I had found it. And there it sat, gathering dust and followers by the thousands, just biding its time, smugly giving me that ‘You’ll be back’ look that made me want to punch it in its little blue budgie – or whatever the hell type of bird that’s supposed to be – they’re all coots to me.

It never ceases to irritate me that I proved Twitter right by going back. One evening in January of this year I was watching TV, more bored than Britney Spears at a carrot convention, none of my friends were about, in real life or via IM, and I had a hankering for voices outside of my own head. By chance, Twitter was mentioned on the television and suddenly I was curious, I wondered if it had changed much, or at all. I looked at a few famous types’ pages and then, on a lonely whim, created an account and off I went, into tweet mediocrity.

And that’s my big problem with Twitter; as much as I love it sometimes, its quirkiness, its eclectic mix of people, the way it facilitates my addictive need for humour, information and YouTube clips of animals behaving in an amusing fashion – and all in a way so simple and lazy that even Homer Simpson would approve, the fact remains – I’m just not very good at it. And who wants to do something they’re rubbish at… except for, obviously, politicians, Daily Mail hacks and Peter Andre?  I’m too shy to voice most of my thoughts or interact with the majority of people – unless they speak to me first – giving, I suspect, a false impression of slightly vacuous disinterest that I am far from feeling.

Other people too, make or break Twitter for me; some make me long to slurp from the splendid milk of human kindness through a day-glo bendy straw, whilst others leave me with an urge to run for the most remote cave in existence and barricade myself in using boulders and my own faeces. I have gradually come to realise that hell on earth is watching as someone relentlessly tweets on about their stomach disorder and all the things that are wrong in their life and in the next breath snidely criticises a band, who they don’t even need to be listening to or watching in the first place, for droning on and being shit! Or it’s those people who mistake having thousands of followers for a God-like right to have the last word on everything, so hopelessly deluded by their own megalomania and the gang of hopeful sycophants that shuffle around after them that they can no longer see just what a ridiculous spazmoid they’ve become. There is an abundance of things on Twitter but, sadly, self-awareness is not one of them.

Having said that, it’s still not easy to leave – because there’s a lot of great people using Twitter too. Funny, intelligent people, people with talent who make me want to read what they’ve written, to hang one of their pictures on my wall or just do dirty things to in a stationery cupboard.  I’ve considered the delete button many times, I’ve even joined other sites, hoping to find an alluring alternative, but to no effect. Instead of being crap at one form of social interaction I am now crap at many, all at the same time.

Currently, I am a member of the following:

  • Google+ – I had high hopes for this one, it seemed to promise a sexy combination of the less annoying parts of Facebook and Twitter, but it’s never really delivered. Despite having a small number of friends and family lodged firmly in the first two circles of my very own version of Dante’s Inferno – it still just seems to be me who is actually in there at any given time. I bet Schrödinger’s cat felt like this. I also bet that if it was on Google+, then even that bloody cat wouldn’t be speaking to me.
  • Pushnote – The concept is simple enough but I am thrown by its pointlessness and my own inability to walk away. I think it’s my fear of disappointing people or hurting their feelings. I’ve only posted 5 links on there and yet I have over a thousand followers! I vaguely know that this is almost entirely due to some kind of ‘Neighbours’ scheme, of which I have no understanding whatsoever. I’m just pathetically grateful and reluctant to spurn this electronically generated devotion by deleting my account. My snooty Twitter persona sneers at my Pushnote self, pointing out that any followers that easily gotten don’t count anyway, but I think it’s just jealous because it’s a Billy-no-mates with a paltry 84. Ha! Loser!
  • Goodreads – I actually quite like this one, or rather – I like the idea of it. If I can just find the time and inclination to put more into it and… y’know… read stuff and, er… interact with other readers, it could be fun. Maybe.

So you see, something has to give before I’m irrevocably assimilated by the internet Borg and lose all sense of reality and start living in darkness under the stairs with only my laptop and a bag of Gummy Bears for company. If I can just accept that no matter how many different websites I join I’m never going to find ‘the one’, essentially, because other people will also be there fucking it up and spoiling it – then maybe there will be hope for me yet.

Or maybe I should just accept that resistance is futile and go back to FaceBook…

CM x

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2 thoughts on “Me vs The Social Networks…

  1. in my defense ….. the proclaimers ARE wank, and you didn’t say what type of saucepan you are? i reckon you’d be something poncey like a milk pan or one of those complicated egg poachers

    FB isn’t what it used to be, i wouldn’t bother if i were you x

  2. Yep, definitely a complicated egg poacher.

    If I ever get married, I’m going to have that Proclaimers song, that one that makes everyone do a drunken jig, as the ‘first dance’… just to annoy you. x

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