Saturday, July 27, 2013

Twitter Life is "The Gong Show" Without the Gong

Much has been made of how narcissistic and coarse social media users are. People who normally seem thoughtful use Facebook to show pictures of their hand in a Ritz box. And when they're done wiping the Ritz grease off their finger and thumb (opposable?), they spray their Twitter feed with nonstop tweets about the subsequent digestive process. It is difficult not to have a meltdown as you witness the most breathtaking communicating devices yet devised by man squandered on bodily functions and half eaten lunches. Oh, and the occasional rebellious feline...

But we shouldn't forget how quickly all this technology matured. It happened before any kind of decorum could develop. And what helps make Facebook and Twitter such founts of narcissism is that they create the illusion that the world is listening to you. Now everyone feels famous. Better yet, everyone is an overnight success, so we shouldn't be surprised when social media junkies behave as crassly as the suddenly famous so often do.

Overnight we all became like rookie starting quarterbacks for a big market team. We're suddenly "famous" and being scrutinized by strangers without tools to handle any of it. Athletes sometimes take classes on dealing with the press, and even if they don't, they have the advantage of being around teammates - seasoned famous people - they can use as a reference for their own maturation. There were no seasoned Facebook users when it exploded, and the breakneck pace of its spreading meant everyone was doing it before a common code of manners could take root (which might have happened had its dissemination been more gradual).

We all became "famous" without the baby steps, and it shows. Le faux pas we should have used as opportunities for improvement instead became the standard conduct of social media. We are a world of fame parvenus.

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