Some computer geeks in Brisbane have just launched a new social networking site to rival Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Excellent. Just what we need. More excuses to feel rushed and time-poor while we attempt to juggle our multitude of computer based alliances.
A new Facebook 'friend' appeared on my list the other day and his statement that he was told to join up as it would increase his 'likes' by the bosses at work is a sadly accurate one. Gavin King has joined the Facebook revolution. Does that make him appear more human? To some it will. They will look at his status updates and photos he posts and feel somehow connected to him.
Interacting online is giving us all a false sense of friendships, power and likeability.
In the past week I have 'liked' many pages, I have been outspoken on many more. I change my 'status' daily and I have made several worthwhile connections with total strangers. But what have I actually achieved by doing that? Does the fact that I voted in GetUp's latest cause mean I am revolutionary? Does the fact that I disagreed with someone regarding the future of our moral fortitude in capital letters mean that I am incredibly brave? Because I received 19 'likes' following one statement made via news.com's Facebook page does that mean that I hold the opinion of the majority? No! It means that with my children unwell, one following the other, I have wasted too much time online (she says while pounding away on her laptop writing this missive).
Twitter and I have a sporadic relationship. I check it out once a day and write the occasional 'tweet' for my cyber friends to analyse, laugh about or reject. I am well aware of the fact that almost all statements these days are short-lived. All opinions are now taken with a grain of salt. What worries me are those who are yet to understand the side affects of living a life through the web.
Those who get so angry at a perceived slight or a differing opinion that they begin to write ONLY IN CAPITAL LETTERS. Those who continually go back for more in a vain effort to change the mind of one lone voice whom they have never met, nor are they likely to. Those who remove 'friends' because they've said something controversial and those tho take it all to heart and carry the angst with them everywhere they go.
In a world where we are increasingly exposed to far too much information, it is a difficult task to decide what should be filtered out. Do we really need to know everything? No. How on earth do we expect to have real relationships, real experiences and real opinions if we spend all of our spare time 'trolling' the web in search of bigotry and hate. Everyone has an opinion on everything now (myself included). Where we once said "No idea.", we now launch into a complete dissemination of the subject, complete with quotes and references.
We get caught up in the confusion of the multitude of causes and can state categorically what we believe on issues ranging from same sex marriage and religion through to the London riots and breastfeeding. Seriously? Does a 40 year old man living in Bondi actually care about whether breastfeeding is better than bottle feeding? Can a person who has never been to the UK and has no desire to, really get their head around the cause of the London riots? Probably not.
Thankfully, my children are all well again. My mind is now free to dwell on the simple things, like what's for dinner. I am able to step back from the world's curses and pick and choose those topics which actually interest me rather than believing that because it's online, I have to care.
In reality, we would all be better off if we were passionate about our causes for the right reasons. If we took full ownership of the issue and fought like dogs to get the results we are after. We wouldn't all be jumping on-board with the same issue as we are individuals and our real passions are not the same. The fight would be fairer, the opinions based on righteous energy and the results would be true to life.
So, I am now a member of the Google+ community. I have never actually used my account and I don't even think I have a picture up yet. I will continue to use Twitter as the mood strikes me and will probably keep updating my 'status' on Facebook daily. These social networking sites will not go away nor should they. They are very useful tools if used correctly and can connect you to old friends, family who are far away and people you share an interest with. Our fascination, fast turning into an obsession with it, is another thing entirely.