On Intimacy: Or Why I’m a Social Networking Luddite

Are you sitting down? Good.

I am not on the Facebook.

You heard me.

I’m proud.

Still seated?

I don’t have a mobile, either.

Twitter? Pfft. Fair play to ye, Lewis Black.

My stalwart band of merry friends weathers these oddities (and many, many more) valiantly. They’ve heard me remark endlessly that I’ve skipped a few generations and I’m really a Boomer in disguise.

But why is it that I embrace certain bits of electronic socialisation, old school bulletin board systems and newer trappings like World of Warcraft’s RealID, and not others? How is it that an early adaptor in other areas would be a laggard in this one?

The answer is intimacy.

One of the best comments I heard while at Library School was that one of the most influential people a professor had met treated everyone they met and spoke with as if at that given moment they were the centre of the universe. Isn’t that a great way to honour one another? How can you accomplish that level of attention if you chafe at the idea of slipping the leash that is your mobile?

Are your tools *really* bringing you closer together, or is stockpiling friends and followers a modern day merit badge in narcissism? Are they providing a free lunch to marketers at the expense of your privacy? Are they organic, or are they art for art’s sake? Are our children larger cowards for being able to bully at pixel’s distance, sometimes fatally?

When I was charged a number of years ago with doing a reading and discussion guide on Alan Lightman’s A Sense of the Mysterious (review a science book? Am I that much of a dork?) , I reveled in his lack of email. Though I use email heavily (many would say TOO heavily) I instantaneously understood why he chose not to.

I never kept a diary when I grew up, and I still don’t now. My secret heart is still just that. As tawdry my affairs are with bound matter, as often as I write the occasional bad poem, if I want to unburden myself, it will be to another living, breathing, human.

If you have a response, post it to the listserv. Why is it that a lot of people hate that dictum? In slicing out sidetalk, we lose the gossip inherent to our social reality. It enforces artificial openness.

Over the years, I’ve become fast friends with people I’ve never met in person. If you chose not to wear an electronic mask, earnest digital friendship awaits. It’s also no hindrance to me that my foul temper gets a cool second or two between brain and keyboard. There’s no fear of interrupting via email. When they have the time for me, there I am. They might roll their eyes and tsc. They’ve a delete key, too.

I knew that I’d not post to a blog often enough to be relevant, so I’ve always called this thing what it is: a website. It’s not what I think on any given day, but rather what I post when inspiration hits. Good muse powered signal.

Does X technology provide a window for me to get to know another person? Do I feel like an exhibitionist or voyeur? Will it distract and detract from honest conversation? Can I honour each person as though they were the centre of my universe?