I think I might be one of the few people in my age group who really grasps what the Internet was originally (and still is) best used for. It’s been only since Wednesday night that I have even arrived in town, and I’ve already gotten my own miniature personal network of people started. I have made a couple friends online, some through friends of friends, some job prospect connections, and most of all, started to figure out the tangled mess of freeways that pumps the blood through the LA basin.
Facebook, or as I am apt to call it, The Big Blue Website, is to me one of the most ridiculously misconstrued phenomena of our time. The way that most people use social networking is completely the opposite of social. You’ve got the trolls that will retweet, like and pin so much that they never actually interact with anyone on a human level, instead subjecting themselves to social exile for being “that girl” or “that guy” that provides their whole friends list with direct-marketing spam, be it in the form of an invite to harvest crops in FarmVille, suggesting you join some arbitrary extension of your high school experience, or something reposting everything they see on YouTube. Who cares? Only on rare occasion does anyone find himself interested or even looking for videos of friends being drunk, what song someone decided to Spotify, or which articles someone read from Perez Hilton. Here are my rules to keeping the Internet exactly what I need it to be:
- Keep your apps to yourself. There is nothing more irritating to someone who does not care about Flash games than getting a daily dose of Draw Something requests. I understand the fun in it. I don’t want to have to sort through Facebook notifications the same way I do my email, which is bad enough. Spam, I would go so far to say this, is probably one of the main reasons email is already archaic in terms of staying up to date with friends, for the most part. Let’s not do that to Facebook.
- Keep your online exposure to a minimum. You and your friends are all aware that you go out and get wasted. You do it together. Let’s not build a shrine to our weakest moments, shall we?
- If you don’t have anything nice to post, don’t post anything at all. Facebook, Twitter, and the blogosphere, for the most part, will not be able to provide the answers to the woes of your life. There is no dislike button for this very reason: Facebook isn’t intended to be a dirty laundry basket. So if you’re posting something negative, you’re greatly degrading your own image – possibly even moreso than in an actual social environment. Your friends are only a phone call away if you need to vent. Your acquaintances will just unfriend you. Simple.
- Do not expect fulfillment or facts from the websites you read. Huffington Post, Perez Hilton, even the Yahoo homepage (my own long-time personal browsing vice) are not aimed at you, and if you are, it’s because you’re stupid. Look at the Yahoo homepage right now. I dare you. In fact, I just typed it out for you: www.yahoo.com. Do it. Now, count how many of the articles on their main news feed are at all relevant to the real woes of the world. At this moment, I count four of 55 articles even relating to anything legitimately going on in the world. In the midst of counting, I found myself distracted by one of the articles. Keep in mind that there is a difference between reading Cosmo and the New York Times, and if you’re not interested in anything NYT or CNN have to offer, you probably are getting as much useful time out of reading online as you would be by watching afternoon television.
- The Internet is our backup copy of reality. So there’s no reason why you should interact with someone’s wall more than in person or on the phone or via email, even if you are a few trillion miles away. You aren’t required to digitalize everything you experience every day. Leave some of the magic about yourself to be discovered in person.
Following these guidelines has helped me immensely in terms of not spending my whole day at the computer, waiting for it to decide what I need to look for. The computer won’t out of its own volition help you with much of anything you haven’t already addressed with it. I have set myself up to be more computer dependent, for sure: needing a job, not knowing the area all that well, wondering where people go to meet other people who want to meet other people, figuring out how to cope with driving literally everywhere – and that’s what I knew before moving, but I’m certain that I’ve done a good job, at least so far, of making sure that I maintain my positive connections without acting as though my interactions with others are to serve as nothing more than a billboard screaming “hey! I have friends, watch us prove it!”