I have all the respect in the world for businesses that use Facebook and MySpace and Twitter and any of the other gimmicky little time-diverting role-playing-games that seem so popular with the kids these days.
Wait. Having "all the respect in the world" does seem a bit undue.
I meant, of course, that I have "nothing but contempt."
And these people are friends of mine. Family friends. Regular guys and gals. Many of whom I have hugged in earnest affection.
I have a piece of all of those free online "social" networks. And I will have, as long as they remain free.
I was even signed up for some networks that I didn't know that I was on, until someone else mentioned that I'd been insulting myself online -- I assumed in order to make it look as though I weren't really me, but actually someone pretending to be me in order to. I enjoyed some of those sites, especially the sailing one. Until everyone decided that it would be more sensible to just sail rather than to write to each other about it. (Oh, and I was obliged to leave MySpace because it was not only "NSFW" but also "NSFA.")
I have engaged an impetuous Facebook account.
And here's my usual qualifying justification: "I've gotten in touch with friends from school and business that I might never have seen again otherwise." Never mind that I was a self-possessed libertine through my college years, generally a challenging associate whenever employed on The Beach, and who knows what the hell I was like as a shipmate (opinions vary).
But, through the miracle of Facebook, I can continue to interact with my erstwhile collaborators in positive SOCIAL ways.
Like buying them freaky little vaguely-racist flower people for their unfortunately-named "lil green patch," which ostensibly saves square feet of rainforest or gives money to the Nature Conservancy or something. I'm sure it's legit. Because everyone on Facebook says so.
Or you can Kidnap them, which gives (often incorrect) Travel Channel™ geography trivia lessons while requiring you to spirit your pals away after hitting them with an eight ball in a sock. Or have them bumped off altogether in a "Mafia War" where you (according to a website that does this sort of thing) "Start a Mafia family with your friends, Run 3 kinds of crime businesses, and Vie for respect... then Fight to be the ruling family in NYC."
During my early experience of Facebook, I clicked the "BECOME A FAN OF" button for Wanda Jackson. Readers of this journal know that I am a fan of Wanda Jackson, but the public reinforcement of that status appealed to me.
I am not, however, a "born-again Christian." But since I have expressed an interest in the historically-significant role of the rockabilly music of Wanda Jackson (who BTW does tend to evangelize), I have tacitly given permission to discuss my religious convictions. Of which I have none worth discussing (particularly with strangers who sign their messages, "LOL in xt.")
In an actual social situation (say, if at a dinner party I were seated next to someone who was apprised of my interest), I would know exactly what to do. But I'm at a loss when presented a total stranger's presumptiveness.
And, if at that very same soiree, an individual were walking around with racily-clad models loudly promoting his business, that miscreant would be shown the nearest exit. Not so on Facebook.
Of course, as with any public medium, all is safe and secure because you can "ignore" or "block" or simply not look. Just like with talk radio or online comments sections or people who hand out Biblical tracts at pride parades. "Ignore and avoid," as my old dimwitted boss used to say. And he worked selling radio ads.
I suppose that he may even have read this article about "social networking" in today's Fall River Herald News. And he might even think of getting involved, simply because everyone else is. Because everyone else has rediscovered the old saw: "Free advertising is the best kind of advertising."
After all, if near-anonymous voices can holler fractious, contentious, and ill-mannered deprecations, aren't we all -- in the spirit of camaraderie -- bound to sink to new depths of shallowness in one hundred and forty characters?
And even though someone on Twitter furnishes short passages from the Dalai Lama, Quaker moralists, and existential philosophers, it's still called merely "Twitter."
Not quite "Gravitas" is it?