Criticising social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook is as pointless as knocking people who discuss the weather

Cory Doctorow, via guardian.co.uk

Here are some suggested things to say if you want to sound like an idiot when you talk about social media:

• It’s inconsequential – most of the verbiage on Twitter, Facebook and the like is banal blather

Yes, it certainly is. The reason for that is that most of it is “social grooming” – messages passed between friends and family members as a way of maintaining social cohesion. The meaning of the messages isn’t “u look h4wt dude” or “wat up wiv you dawg?” That’s merely the form. The meaning is: “I am thinking of you, I care about you, I hope you are well.”

I don’t call my parents in Canada and recount the latest additions to my daughter’s vocabulary because they need to know that the kid can say “elephant” and “potty” now; I call them up to say, “all is well with your son and his family”, and “you are in my heart”, and “I love you”.

Criticizing the “banality” of Facebook conversation is as trite and ignorant as criticising people who talk about the weather. There’s a reason we say “Did you sleep well?” at breakfast and “How was your weekend?” when we turn up to the office on Monday (and it’s not that we care about the weekend or the rest).

Yes, people sometimes say consequential things on social media. The Twitter tag #whatTwitterdidforme has lots of sterling examples. But these are rare events that are not Twitter’s raison d’etre. People don’t join Twitter because they hope that someday they’ll be sprung from jail, land a job, or reunite with a long-lost friend. These are bonuses.

The real value of Twitter et al is to keep the invisible lines of connection between us alive.

And other things that make you sound dumb…check out the article to see why.

• It is ugly – MySpace is a graphic designer’s worst nightmare
• It is ephemeral – Facebook will blow over in a year and something else will be along


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