Not-for-Profit, Award-Winning Community News and Views for Windham County, Vermont • Since 2006
Voices / Column

Antisocial media

Do I really care what thousands of people are having for dinner, or what movie they just saw?

Elayne Clift writes, tweets, and blogs about women, politics, and social issues.

Saxtons River

I guess I’m not the only one who increasingly finds blogs boring and social media less than stimulating.

A recent New Yorker cartoon, headlined “Blog Breakdown,” showed a pie chart in which blogs were broken down into thirds for “conspiracy theories,” “self-promotion,” and “stories about crap somebody cooked, knitted, or sewed.”

I can relate.

If I have to read one more tweet like this one, I’ll start banging my head against the wall: “Off to church. Then I’ll exercise, watch football and cook.” (That was tweeted by a high profile person who obviously needs a social life, not social media.)

In the immortal words of Rhett Butler, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

I also don’t care that you are “on a plane to Atlanta to give another speech!,” that you have just watched Michael Moore do an awesome interview on MSNBC, or that your favorite political organization has launched a campaign you’d go to your death for. (Full disclosure: I’ve re-tweeted a few such messages myself, and I do use Twitter to promote my articles and columns.)

The reason I got actively engaged with Facebook and Twitter (which might better be called Twaddle) is that my media-savvy daughter said it was the way to get my work out there.

It’s a mass marketing tool, she said, and she was right. I’ve had posted articles passed on 40 or more times, and it’s great to see myself re-tweeted or readers referred to @elayne_clift.

Let’s face it: In an increasingly competitive world of 140-character communication, you’re here-today-gone-today. You have to put yourself out there if you want what used to be called your 15 minutes of fame. Today, you’re lucky to get 15 seconds on rapidly scrolled, little scrutinized social media.

* * *

But the thing I’ve noticed most about social media now that I use it more is that in addition to being pretty boring, it’s hyper-egotistical. It’s as though we’re all having a Terrible Twos day and need to be the center of attention.

Our posts all but scream “It’s all about me!” And I’m as guilty as anyone: The first thing I do when I log onto Twitter is check to see whether I’ve been “mentioned” or “re-tweeted.”

I also feel like a wallflower because I only have 60 followers so far. That’s pretty pathetic in the world of tweeting. Some people have upwards of one or two thousand.

Of course, they are following thousands of other people while I only follow about a hundred to date. Who has time to see where 1,000 people are flying off to in order to promote themselves? Do I really care what thousands of people are having for dinner or what movie they just saw?

“Social media” strike me as an oxymoron. If we were really being social, we wouldn’t have our faces glued to a screen while we commune with virtual friends and allies, most of whom we’re unlikely to know in our lifetimes. (I don’t know about you, but I’m quite sure I’m not in Gloria Steinem’s or Michael Moore’s Rolodex.)

We’d be hanging out with real people whom we actually know and like to talk with. We’d be sharing ideas in real time with genuine enthusiasm, and appreciating what the other person might like to say.

As for blogs — and I have one, which I like to think is totally stimulating — well, at least they offer substance. It’s just that there are so many of them.

Occasionally I log onto the Huffington Post or, but my eyes quickly glaze over. The plethora of opinion, brilliant and important as it may be, is just overwhelming. There is just so much time in a day and so much patience in an hour for various points of view.

* * *

Some folks say that Facebook will soon be history as new sites and advanced technologies offer even more stimulating and varied ways to blog, boast, and bore.

The very thought terrifies me. I needed a tutorial just to tweet. But maybe by the time the next wave of innovative IT gets here, I’ll be beyond it: done with things to write about and devoid of ego.

Fat chance! I’ll most likely just suck it up and join the masses, traversing the technological landscape in search of ever-quicker avenues to pull ahead of the crowd as I promote myself.

All I ask is that someone shoot me if all I have left to share in 140 characters or less is what I ate for breakfast, and all I can blog about has already been written more succinctly than I’d have done.

Like what we do? Help us keep doing it!

We rely on the donations and financial support of our readers to help make The Commons available to all. Please join us today.

What do you think? Leave us a comment

Editor’s note: Our terms of service require you to use your real names. We will remove anonymous or pseudonymous comments that come to our attention. We rely on our readers’ personal integrity to stand behind what they say; please do not write anything to someone that you wouldn’t say to his or her face without your needing to wear a ski mask while saying it. Thanks for doing your part to make your responses forceful, thoughtful, provocative, and civil. We also consider your comments for the letters column in the print newspaper.


We are currently reconfiguring our comments software. Please check back if you’d like to read or leave comments on this story. —The editors

Originally published in The Commons issue #135 (Wednesday, January 18, 2012).

Share this story


Related stories

More by Elayne Clift