14 January 2013
crafting, not spewing
If we were still in the pen-and-paper age, I would say that gallons of ink have been spilled over the topic ("legions of keys have been tapped" doesn't have nearly the same effect . . . oh, the drawbacks of the digital revolution). But ink or keys notwithstanding, the topic has been well worn. We all realize that the Facebook-Twitter-Pinterest-personal bloggery universe is chockablock with useless information.
This kind of sharing often occurs in order to get outside validation; consciously or not, we angle for comments, likes, and retweets in order to feel more confident about our own lives. We want the world to tell us that what we've done is worth a thumbs up. We want others to tell us we're good enough. And in the process, it seems that we have lost the capacity to revel in blessings on our own.
Consider. Doesn't it seem strange that anyone would post a status like "Making fresh guacamole for lunch!" or "Had such a great time getting coffee with my sister!" or "A hot shower makes the whole day better!" Now I love guacamole, sisters, and hot showers as much as anyone. Yet announcing their existence to my Facebook friends-- 99.99% of whom did not actually participate in those events, and who stand to gain nothing from the knowledge-- seems to me both gratuitous and a touch self-indulgent. (I mean, people were enjoying indoor plumbing long before they were able to broadcast its delights hither and yon over the internet. Why start now?)
It's as if our generation can no longer experience something true and beautiful without immediately sprinting to our computers to "share" it.
In my experience, a lot of today's young Americans aren't very good at reflection, analysis, or any of the mental habits that require independent thought. We have nothing useful to say. Is it because we are so accustomed to "sharing" that we would rather say something banal in public than mull over something meaty in private?
I probably sound very snarky here, but I didn't intend to take a condescending tone. I just think that this phenomenon is rather sad.
Do you have a different perspective on this? I am genuinely curious. If you are one who tends to post about your lunch choices, tell me: why do you want other people to know those things?
I deeply appreciate the social media users who harness their corners of the internet for worthwhile purposes. Lately, I've been trying to imitate them and keep a closer watch on my own writings. I want to know that everything I release into cyberland has a real purpose: to provoke thought, to provide useful information, to encourage, to amuse. I don't want to be a virtual litterbug. Words matter-- my words matter-- and if I truly believe that, I'll be keeping a close watch on what I say. I'll be crafting sentences, not spewing them.
So hopefully, if I tell you that I had coffee with my sister, it's because I think that within the story lies something that will enrich your life. If I tell you that guacamole was on the menu it's because I want to share the recipe.
I know that in the past, I've posted some truly ridiculous things that did not fit these standards at all, but I am determined to meet the goal from now on.
I guess you could call it my New Year's Resolution?
Labels: I Thought So