Sunday, September 14, 2008

September 14, 2008: To Socially Network or Not to Socially Network

This past Saturday, American Independent Writers (AIW) hosted a seminar for writers, touting ways for us to “push the electronic envelope.” As a member, pushing said envelope would only cost me $89 for six and three-quarters of an hour.

Not to disparage, but what writers aren’t already pushing that envelope? On any given day, I’m checking out what’s going on at Shelfari, AuthorNation, and the two heavy hitters – MySpace and Facebook. In July of last year, I, brimming with naiveté, wrote a blog post about how addicted I was to MySpace. Well, people, those were my salad days in which I viewed social networking through the lens of inexperience and idealism.

Flash ahead to September 2008. Inexperience and idealism have been displaced by fatigue and a feeling of being overwhelmed. Tools that I viewed as portals through which to share my work with like-minded folks have become these gaping timesucks through which I fall with startling frequency. Like a Black, dread locked Alice in a cyberspace Wonderland.

Facebook is the biggest thief of my time as of late. I log in and find that someone from one of the many networks to which I belong has lobbed something onto my page that requires my response. A guy I went to high school with has poked me. Should I poke him back, I wonder. What does a poke really mean? Quite a few people have sent me (lil) green patch requests. What does this mean? Don’t my real friends know that I am a serial plant killer in real life? Then there are the requests to take quizzes! I hated taking quizzes for grades; why would I do them for fun? Also, some of the applications on Facebook are a bit much. I can take a joke as much as the next woman, but I find an application enabling someone to bid money on me extremely distasteful, especially for someone of African descent. I’m nobody’s prude, but when someone offered me a friend f*ck, I hastily disabled that application. Some things are still so much better in person, preferably after dinner and a movie.

The good thing about Facebook is that it keeps me in touch with my fellow Bahamians all over the globe. Reading Bahamian slang in print is HILARIOUS! Someone invited me to a group called Beautiful Island Women, which flattered me to no end. In the group I seriously believe Chris Brown was robbed of his Bronze medal in the 400m, I became aware of the extent of the ire that Bahamians felt toward American runner David Neville, who threw himself over the finish line, denying the Bahamian runner, Brown, a medal in the Beijing Olympics.

Invariably, after my exploration of Fun Walls, comments, e-mails, and photos, I look up and realize how much time burned while I fiddled away online. It’s ironic that I started social networking to share my writing, and now, because I’m social networking, I’m getting precious little writing done. Quite the paradox. I wonder if the hosts of Saturday’s AIW seminar mentioned social networking time loss to the folks who shelled out $89. I bet they didn’t. Maybe the next seminar should tell writers how to close the envelope… or at least tell them how to manage the envelope once you’ve pushed it open. Now that’s something I’d pay good money for.

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