I’ve been thinking a lot lately. Or, not so much thinking, but thinking it would be nice to have more time to think. Or more time to do anything. I want to be more productive, even if I’m not sure what I want to produce. I haven’t had time to figure that out yet.
I’ve noticed a convergence of ideas lately, both inside my own head and in the larger world, a world I increasingly interact with primarily via the Internet, despite the fact that I am fully capable of going outside and interacting with it directly. These ideas are mostly circling around a disturbing premise: the tools that are allowing us to share these ideas are consuming our ability to produce them in the first place.
I’ve become something of a Facebook and Twitter addict over the course of the past year. I need the constant affirmation they provide in the form of comments from acquaintances and strangers alike on the random scraps of brainstuff I frequently distribute via this medium. Comments tell me people know I exist. They make me feel important. Increasingly, they serve as a sterilized substitute for genuine human interaction.
But there may just be some hope yet: I’m seeing encouraging signs that I’m not alone in… uh… being alone. Joshua Wentz (of SIDEDOWN) laments the vacuous experience of Facebook. Jason Fried (of 37signals) tells Inc. how popularity on social networking sites does not equal success. Nick Kallen (of Twitter, no less!) discusses how our brains buckle under the sheer mass of information in the modern world.
And so, I present my manifesto. My statement of beliefs about… something. I’m just not sure what.
Family > Work > Social Networking
I need to prioritize. We all need to. What’s really the most important to us, or, more accurately, who is? Our interactions with the people who really mean something to us, who are a part of our daily existence, must come first. These people are our “family,” whether we’re related by blood or not, whether our relationships are legally recognized by the government or not.
Work is next. Work is what we do that matters to us. It’s not necessarily what we get paid to do — though if we’re lucky, we can sometimes make that happen. It’s what drives us and fulfills us.
Social networking? Well, now we begin to see its real place in the hierarchy of things. These tools can help us to reconnect with the people we care about but with whom we no longer share physical space. They can help us meet and develop meaningful relationships with people whose interests we share, but whose physical space we never have (and likely never will). But much of the time they simply provide needless distractions, inundating us with useless details about the lives of people who don’t really mean that much to us. Just because information exists, doesn’t mean it’s important.
Call to action: Delete your social networking bookmarks.
To be continued…