Nov 28, 2010

Social Networks

Things such as the social networks, in whatever form, shape, name, exercise an impact over the life of people, the way they see life, the way they meet other and the way their interact. The norms for meeting others, the particulars that make two individuals qualify as "friends" - or whatever name they are given in the different circles - morph within the boundaries and rules proper of each of these cyber human-interconnections.

The social networks I'm part of at this moment are basically iwiw (the Hungarian profile social network. Invite only), Facebook, Interpals (a network to make friends for correspondence, or penpalling), and naturally, Twitter. Of all these Twitter has to itself a distinctive feature that haven't been able to find in any other: the actual chance for people to meet. A space created for "mini-blogging", though I keep seeing it like more of a "messageboard"-meets-"fortune cookie"- meets-"yes-it-could-be-mini-blogging", it proves to have the muscle to bring people to meet, sit down on a group date - no romance involved - to provide for the lack of proper photo albums and costly apps that aim for your data while throwing in exchange some time consuming game or a quizz designed to make you believe you could actually be Hitler, a vampire or Wilson from House MD.

Through breakfasts - or more like brunchs - and sushi or pizza dates, a group of people armed with internet-abled phones or handsets of any other sort, sit together and break the bread, exchanging their usernames, engross their follow and follower lists, making their timelines speed up faster, unroll at a higher speed with more and more tweets from more and more people. I'm getting more and more used to the interaction among them, unlike in the begining, where my old school head couldn't wrap around the concept of having a table of 20 people, with all of them talking through their phones, tweeting instead of talking.

The communications flows, truth to be told, both recorded in the cyberspace, 140 characters at the time, but also life, in the flesh, where the smile, the tone of voice, the eye contact gives meat to the follow. Meetings like these uncover for the cybernaut the person behind the picture, the human behind the characters, the mind behind the message. Here I must stop for a moment and pay my respects for my friend - in here now and shortly referred to by his user, @dankenzon - who was the one to pull me into this social network, and then further introduce me to the rewarding life of #breakfasttouring.

Today's rendez-vous brought together over 28 twitters, gathered around a long table - well, more like 4 or 6 of them pushed together - sharing the moment and the nourishment like a big family. Several local celebrities sat with us, not in the least pushing themselves over the others, claiming their cyber-status to extend also to their real life presence. Known bloggers, who's opinion has been widely shared, sat and commented with those of us less published - if not down right silent about our writing. 

Two of the many topics mentioned caught my attention, bringing me to write this post: The influence of Twitter over expression skills, and infidelity over twitter.

In the first topic, it was mentioned how Twitter pushed people into developping certain skills, such as creativity due to the need to express oneself in 140 characters - thus being able to better phrase one's thoughts, but also the capability of being more tolerant, since the level of peer-pressure on this medium is much higher than in any other network of social sphere. Though these reasonings were quite eloquently exposed, I found myself wondering about them, finding it was not my case, nor I saw it that way. As a longtime journal-writer, and penpaller neither blogging nor tweeting has further developped my expression-skills. If anything, I've found my skills diminished, when compared with those I used to have when more deeply involved in the former practices. There is a certain self-censuring going on in the cyberspace, that does not appear in the intimate paper plane. In here you can write all you want, say all you want, but you never say really all that's in your head. The instant quality of words typed into the big cyberness, does rob them time and again of their better considered, matured condition.

Type and publish. It is out there to be read in the moment you finish typing it, and though you can save it in your draft box for a while, mull over it, how often do you do so? It's different with a date counter to tell you how long has it passed since you last wrote, in a medium so expedit, so instant that up-to-date-ness is expected, in contrast with the paper way, where the past is the seal, the mark, the brand, and the eternity of the things written, scratched, carved upon paper is the expectation.

So, does it improve? Is tweeting better? Does twitter hones expression skills? That's not an affirmation I'm willing to make. It changes the mind, the expressing structures, and it imprints the current trend: fast, concrete, social-centered, and up-to-date. Is this good? It depends on what are you aiming for. In my book the paused, eternal thinking, the one that searched still at the roots, that dwells in the past and goes back to the classics is still the best way to go. Not that I would oppose younger styles and forms, but I do weep for the lost of the paused, dedicated wording that set the written style appart, with verb forms and tenses only used for the written language, the descriptive, rounding palates that could not be freely, spontaneously spoken, but that flows from the pensive soul that has munched on the tip of the pen for long moments before.

Perhaps today's social networks, in the wake of a style that does not make distinction between the spoken and the written language, that makes no distinction between opinion and philosophy, and prefers openly the latest trend instead of the abstract, timeless, rhetoric flow, pulls new speakers, new voices and new forefronts of thought. An era of speech is solidifying around us, that make writers such as Sartre, Nin, Lorca curious memories from a past close in time, distant in concept where the weaving of terms rounded in an diseconomy of words and characters a concept of beauty that fades in the eyes of those easily bored if not excited constantly.

This new expression trend would be like fast and furious fucking, while the former style might have danced and skirted sex, prizing the flirting, the long courting of the message, climaxing, satisfied with the touch of the ungloved hand.

From here I flow to the second topic, that lack of skirting and flirting, it has come to my attention how it happens that people act rather unashamed on the social networks, typing down messages that should be meant for one person, to be read by many. As if in absolute disregard of the 500+ people in whose timeline or wall their words will pop up, pleads and jokes are exchanged in a way that makes it blatant who is talking to whom. Two friends share their private jokes on the net, pretending to be alone - yet not using more private means to communicate - rubbing their intimacy on other people's face, pushing impressions - wrong or not -  and then expecting others not to meddle in their business.

Open channels are exactly that: open channels, and there the conversation of two becomes the headlines of hundreds.

It is already shamefull to witness people going intimate, personal before others, but then, when it happens with people otherwise engaged in a romantic relationship with someone else, it's scandalous.

I have knowledge of a particular case, where someone, having a relationship with someone else, mistreats the official partner and openly favours an alleged friend, with whom trades messages in the open channel, that go way beyond decency. Ads playing with the concept - telecommunication operators pushing the danger of being discovered while away from the computer and not being able to control the damage - do not go as far as these cases do. The case I was witnessing seemed to me abhorrent and beyond any paramether of decency I could come up with. The Ms, was not as much courted by a Mr that couldn't come close in class or education to her significant other, but she in a true Messalina fashion, threw herself to the Mr in question, shamelessly whoring herself out, pleading publicly for his attention, declaring her affection both freely as well as upon the call of the Mr.

At one point things had gone as far as to arise the public cry and rejection over their low, dirty behavior, to which it was the Ms who dared to reply wishing third parties out of their business, while the shady, sleezy Mr obscured his presence by retiring into mere observation. Such disgraceful scenes are never to be seen - not often anyways - outside the social circuits created by the cyber space, where the narrowness of the screen deludes the mind from the wideness of this kbps impulsed universe.

The unabashed Ms and her coward player, continued their games after less than 12 hours of resented silence towards the open channel, soon falling into much shameless messages, earning this time the unspoken, yet blatant scorn of their peers.

It happens, as I found out today, that their case isn't the only one recorded in hundreds of timelines and walls and updates. Infidelity, cheating is even more shameless now, happening often before the very eyes of the offended partner, who witnesses astonished how the person that has promised to share love and life turns to someone else, with the same promises. Whore and solicitors pululate, rubbing their dirty business in the noses of everyone unlucky enough to happen there and watch. Is it our business? Well, it is my screen, my timeline, therefore my right to react, but - here curling back to the topic of expression skills and perfected tolerance - where's the extent of our alotted expression?

In the light of these happenings, the trend of today's expression becomes a little bit more outlined. You can say anything you want, but you are expected to self-censor when others do not, otherwise mayhem falls upon you. The careless, shameless cheaters and flirters polute your updates with their unrequested, offending messages, opening their intimacies in the same way cheap whore spread their fuckholes at any passerby at the streets, and those of us who are slapped with the unrequested, unwanted goods, shall look away, mask out gaging reflexed, and mutter under our breaths "how disgusting". We, declining, uninterested patrons, shall choose silence and self-restrain.

Tolerance of the prostituting of expression, where the whore can rule the demure? Yes, public scorn rises, the user will soon find it's account cut from others fed up with their unclean display, their disrespectful ways, but the offended shall choose the self-restrain, wrap in the mask of tolerance when there is no tolerance for silently, in very private notes and thoughts the message is bold, loud and clear: "I'm disgusted by the whore".

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