(That’s my cat Fiona online.) I’ve been thinking about the pros and cons of social media, some of which generate more attention than others.
Obvious pros: keeping in touch with, or reconnecting to, faraway friends and relatives; advertising your business and inviting people to social or business-related events; up to date photos of people you care about; stress relievers like jokes, cartoons, and of course, animal videos. The immediacy of a topical joke, meme or news story with video is undeniable. Obvious cons: an opportunity for bad/immature people to bully, insult, and stalk others, and to misrepresent themselves anonymously. Hate speech and indefensible doctrines can be spread. The anonymity brings out incivility or worse in many, especially about politics. People use social media to brag, distort the reality of their lives, and as a substitute for real life friendship, meetups, dates, or simply getting out of the house. There is an insidious feeling of being “connected” which is very different from actually talking to and listening to other humans. Social media can be an addiction and a time waster for sure.
I have my own Facebook page, and have one to advertise and give information about my business, Moon Pie Press. I’ve chosen not to also do Instagram, Twitter or other options, because email, a website, two Facebook pages and a blog seem like plenty of online engagement to me. That brings me to this rather dark poem by the always-provocative and honest Sherman Alexie. If you’re not familiar with his poetry, novels and recent memoir, I highly recommend all his writing.
THE FACEBOOK SONNET
Welcome to the endless high-school
Reunion. Welcome to past friends
And lovers, however kind or cruel.
Let’s undervalue and unmend.
The present. Why can’t we pretend
Every stage of life is the same?
Let’s exhume, resume, and extend
Childhood. Let’s play all the games
That occupy the young. Let fame
And shame intertwine. Let one’s search
For God become public domain.
Let church.com become our church.
Let’s sign up, sign in, and confess
Here at the altar of loneliness.
copyright 2011 by Sherman Alexie (from The New Yorker)