What Is ‘Social Media’ Actually About?

 

I no longer know. Or–perhaps I do–and I simply don’t want to acknowledge the truth.

More than seventeen years ago, I thought I did know. I ran across, in the early years of the Internet, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, she who dubs herself the “yarnharlot.” And I totally got it. As a fiber (animal, rather than cereal) enthusiast myself, I couldn’t get enough of her blog. Sheep! Wool! Spinning! Knitting! Weaving! Etc! I’m a bit of a floozy too, WRT all those things.  (Witness my own blog, rightwingknitjob.com.)

I still believe that–worldwide–Stephanie almost single-handedly rescued knitting from the Birkenstock-wearing, muumuu-flaunting grannies of the world, rendering it respectable for me and those of you (you know who you are) around here who’ve chimed in with support for the various crafts over the years.

And yet.  She (God love her) is a card-carrying Lefty who’d find my own politics, and those of many here, utterly reprehensible.

Nevertheless, she’s trod the line, more carefully than most, over the years. And her general statement that she views her blog as an invitation to visit her living room, and that folks who want to participate should respect that they are guests in her home, seems to me about the best we can do, in terms of a metaphor, when it comes to visiting with each other online. A plea for civility. And one I support.

So, even today, I feel a personal connection with her that I don’t acknowledge with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and a few other sites whose mantra seems to be “love me or leave me,” “accept the binary or get lost,” or just “burn it all down.”

Perhaps, today, social media really is about “just burn it all down.”  And if that’s the case, then perhaps I really have lived too long.

And, perhaps the idea that we might be able to do better is about to disappear into the dustbin of history.

I hope that isn’t the case here.

Is it?

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  1. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    At the risk of sounding like a grouchy old woman (which I am but will fervently deny), I am still not on any social media (although I was briefly on Facebook years ago). I know the reasons people visit and sign up for those sites, but having no burgeoning family to keep informed, I have no reason to go there. I trust that Ricochet, the misguided Orlando Sentinel and WSJ will keep me sufficiently informed. After hearing all the nightmare stories of attacks by other readers, it doesn’t speak to me in the least. Although the temptation to see if I could get kicked off might be interesting. Yes, I know a person can restrict people who visit them, but can’t we still use email? For those people who continue to use social media, you will never persuade me that I should sign up. 

    I just got off the phone will a leftist friend. We ended our conversation on disagreeing if there is a difference between a fetus and a baby. That’s about as controversial as I wish to get.

    • #1
  2. DrewInWisconsin, Unapologetic Oaf Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Unapologetic Oaf
    @DrewInWisconsin

    A friend of mine once noted wistfully, “Remember when social media was, y’know, social?

    • #2
  3. She Member
    She
    @She

    DrewInWisconsin, Unapologetic … (View Comment):

    A friend of mine once noted wistfully, “Remember when social media was, y’know, social?

    Yes, exactly.

    • #3
  4. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    She (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Unapologetic … (View Comment):

    A friend of mine once noted wistfully, “Remember when social media was, y’know, social?

    Yes, exactly.

    What about social credit scores? Are they social? 

    Or socialism? 

    • #4
  5. Chris O Coolidge
    Chris O
    @ChrisO

    Once everyone caught up with each other (socially), we started foisting our insecurities upon one and t’other. ‘Like’ me, oh, please tell me you like me!

    • #5
  6. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Why would one want to visit the living room of a harlot?

    • #6
  7. Terry Mott Member
    Terry Mott
    @TerryMott

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Unapologetic … (View Comment):

    A friend of mine once noted wistfully, “Remember when social media was, y’know, social?

    Yes, exactly.

    What about social credit scores? Are they social?

    Or socialism?

    Or social justice?

    • #7
  8. Lawst N. Thawt Coolidge
    Lawst N. Thawt
    @LawstNThawt

    Social Media is where people practice antisocial behavior.   I had this thought after reading the post and thought I should look up the term to make sure I was not off too far in my thinking. 

    Antisocial behavior: A dysfunction of a person’s ways of thinking, perceiving situations, and relating to others.

    And like all mental things, it’s not necessarily clinical. 

    Antisocial behavior can be normal, and is only an indicator of underlying disease when feelings become excessive, all-consuming, and interfere with daily living.

    Then I decided to google, “clinical conditions related to social media use” and this was the top results teaser:

    A 2019 study suggested that teenagers who use social media for more than 3 hours daily are more likely to experience mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, aggression, and antisocial behavior.

    Emphasis was included.  

    • #8
  9. AMD Texas Member
    AMD Texas
    @DarinJohnson

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Why would one want to visit the living room of a harlot?

    I can think of a couple of reasons

     

    • #9
  10. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Why would one want to visit the living room of a harlot?

    Because there’s usually a hallway that goes to the bedroom? 

    • #10
  11. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    No.

    • #11
  12. She Member
    She
    @She

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Why would one want to visit the living room of a harlot?

    Crimenutely, Jerry.  Once again, you’re miles off the point of the post.

    Chillax.  It’s a lighthearted reference, on her part, to her love of, and inability to resist, all things wooly, fuzzy, stringy, and yarny. All things of which, TBPH, I’m guilty myself.  Does that make me some sort of sexual deviant you’d be ashamed to associate with?

    Don’t answer that.

    There is room for fun in this world.  And room for wordplay, even that which you might find flippant, offensive, or odd, but which, in and of itself, doesn’t, literally, mean that the person deploying it is marching, willy-nilly, towards Sodom or Gomorrah.

    Rule of thumb, though:  When you’re dealing with normal people you think are reasonably smart, you don’t need to go looking for deviant sexual overtones where none exist; nor is it always necessary to call out those who think differently from you as emotional nutjobs or hysterical nitwits.  That you don’t seem able to help yourself WRT some of my posts and comments, and that you seem to look for opportunities to play “Sam the Eagle,” (bless him) says a lot. (See any and all recent, and past, posts on the subject of “humility.” And perhaps take some of them to heart.)

    Get over yourself, please.

    • #12
  13. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Why would one want to visit the living room of a harlot?

    Trust Jerry to miss the main point entirely and target a side lobe instead. 

    • #13
  14. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Why would one want to visit the living room of a harlot?

    Trust Jerry to miss the main point entirely and target a side lobe instead.

    … and that’s my gig.

    • #14
  15. She Member
    She
    @She

    Lawst N. Thawt (View Comment):

    Social Media is where people practice antisocial behavior. I had this thought after reading the post and thought I should look up the term to make sure I was not off too far in my thinking.

    Antisocial behavior: A dysfunction of a person’s ways of thinking, perceiving situations, and relating to others.

    And like all mental things, it’s not necessarily clinical.

    Antisocial behavior can be normal, and is only an indicator of underlying disease when feelings become excessive, all-consuming, and interfere with daily living.

    Then I decided to google, “clinical conditions related to social media use” and this was the top results teaser:

    A 2019 study suggested that teenagers who use social media for more than 3 hours daily are more likely to experience mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, aggression, and antisocial behavior.

    Emphasis was included.

    Yes, I think that’s come to be the case, especially with regard to the biggest sites.  The healthiest people I know, when it comes to their online personae, don’t spend much time on Twitter and Facebook, etc.  (Many of them do have accounts, but use them only to keep up with their siblings, kids, or grandkids, and they place no value at all on the number of “friends,” or “likes” that accrue to them online.)

    Youths (or any others) who think that their personal human value is augmented or increased by the casual clicks of hundreds or thousands of strangers  they then come to count as their “friends,” and whose approbation they obsessively begin to seek, are sad people indeed.

    I’d like to think that the future of the Internet belongs to sites like this, sites where people actually come to know each other, often IRL, and where even online interactions are meaningful and useful and, every so often, make a difference in the lives of members, and even in the lives of those who aren’t.

    I guess time will tell if that comes to pass.

    • #15
  16. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    The only social media I am on is LinkedIn. I use that for business.  There is no way I could spend 3 hrs a day on social media. I have books to write.

    Even if you are not into writing, there has got to be something everyone is into. Woodworking. Quilting, Gardening, Toastmasters. Collecting figurines. Hiking. Something that involves having a life. 

    • #16
  17. MoFarmer Coolidge
    MoFarmer
    @GaryBlake

    Oh come on. Surely Jerry was making a joke. Right?

    • #17
  18. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    It is an odd thing. Everyone you care about (and even the ones you only sort of care about) can be in be with you at home all of the time. I had a FaceBook account for a while in high school, but funny enough it only ever made sense to me when “old” people started joining because they liked the idea of getting back “in touch” with friends they hadn’t seen in years.

    It was probably a worthwhile experiment, but it generally didn’t go well and I’m dubious that we’re going to learn any lessons about how Americans became so antisocial. Another sociocultural “what evs!” on the ash heap of never mind, I suppose.

    The memes are funny though…

    And, actually, as much as I hate to admit it, I’ve made some of my better friends on a fringe-y little website you might’ve heard of.  Some people have a talent for making the best of bad situations.  

    • #18
  19. Gwen Novak Member
    Gwen Novak
    @GwenNovak

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    The only social media I am on is LinkedIn. I use that for business. There is no way I could spend 3 hrs a day on social media. I have books to write.

    Even if you are not into writing, there has got to be something everyone is into. Woodworking. Quilting, Gardening, Toastmasters. Collecting figurines. Hiking. Something that involves having a life.

    I find I have to use Facebook to find writers.

    • #19
  20. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Why would one want to visit the living room of a harlot?

    Before social media and other modern communication, people used to visit in each other’s homes.

    • #20
  21. She Member
    She
    @She

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    The only social media I am on is LinkedIn. I use that for business. There is no way I could spend 3 hrs a day on social media. I have books to write.

    Even if you are not into writing, there has got to be something everyone is into. Woodworking. Quilting, Gardening, Toastmasters. Collecting figurines. Hiking. Something that involves having a life.

    Agree.  I have a group of friends locally who share many of my interests, or with whom I’m friends for other reasons.  We almost never “meet” online.  We almost never discuss politics either, because our politics are all over the place, as are our backgrounds. And there is much else to do besides. 

    I do belong to a few very small online special-interest groups where we’re focused–again–on the trade or the craft, and bettering it.  And although I’ve never met the great majority of the folks I correspond or share information with,  I consider them kindred spirits, at least until they show themselves to be otherwise.

    I can’t imagine believing, as many seem to, that Twitter, et al are the be-all and end-all of friendship, community, and human experience.

    • #21
  22. She Member
    She
    @She

    Samuel Block (View Comment):
    And, actually, as much as I hate to admit it, I’ve made some of my better friends on a fringe-y little website you might’ve heard of.  Some people have a talent for making the best of bad situations.  

    Isn’t that the truth?  LOL.

    • #22
  23. Phil Turmel Coolidge
    Phil Turmel
    @PhilTurmel

    MoFarmer (View Comment):

    Oh come on. Surely Jerry was making a joke. Right?

    No, sorry.  His well-established posting style is straight facts, no levity.

    • #23
  24. Charlotte Member
    Charlotte
    @Charlotte

    MoFarmer (View Comment):

    Oh come on. Surely Jerry was making a joke. Right?

    That’s not usually how Jerry operates.

    • #24
  25. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    “rightwingknitjob”

    I love it!

    • #25
  26. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    She (View Comment):

    I’d like to think that the future of the Internet belongs to sites like this, sites where people actually come to know each other, often IRL, and where even online interactions are meaningful and useful and, every so often, make a difference in the lives of members, and even in the lives of those who aren’t.

     

    Blogs emerged and became popular in the early 2000s, and it appeared that they would provide a serious alternative to traditional media for information and discussion.  While there are still plenty of excellent blogs, some with very nice community spirit, the independent-blog movement was widely undercut by social media such as Facebook (because it’s so easy) and Twitter (because you may be able to communicate and influence with a very large number of people)…but these ‘walled gardens’ come complete with serpent.

    I have made several attempts to introduce selected people that I know on FB and/or IRL to participate in Ricochet and other high-quality sites…my success rate is pretty dismal. People get accustomed to a platform, and seem reluctant to go beyond it even when they are irritated at the censorship and various unfriendly features.

    • #26
  27. Lawst N. Thawt Coolidge
    Lawst N. Thawt
    @LawstNThawt

    She (View Comment):

    Lawst N. Thawt (View Comment):

    Social Media is where people practice antisocial behavior. I had this thought after reading the post and thought I should look up the term to make sure I was not off too far in my thinking.

    Antisocial behavior: A dysfunction of a person’s ways of thinking, perceiving situations, and relating to others.

    And like all mental things, it’s not necessarily clinical.

    Antisocial behavior can be normal, and is only an indicator of underlying disease when feelings become excessive, all-consuming, and interfere with daily living.

    Then I decided to google, “clinical conditions related to social media use” and this was the top results teaser:

    A 2019 study suggested that teenagers who use social media for more than 3 hours daily are more likely to experience mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, aggression, and antisocial behavior.

    Emphasis was included.

    Yes, I think that’s come to be the case, especially with regard to the biggest sites. The healthiest people I know, when it comes to their online personae, don’t spend much time on Twitter and Facebook, etc. (Many of them do have accounts, but use them only to keep up with their siblings, kids, or grandkids, and they place no value at all on the number of “friends,” or “likes” that accrue to them online.)

    Youths (or any others) who think that their personal human value is augmented or increased by the casual clicks of hundreds or thousands of strangers they then come to count as their “friends,” and whose approbation they obsessively begin to seek, are sad people indeed.

    I’d like to think that the future of the Internet belongs to sites like this, sites where people actually come to know each other, often IRL, and where even online interactions are meaningful and useful and, every so often, make a difference in the lives of members, and even in the lives of those who aren’t.

    I guess time will tell if that comes to pass.

    Social media is less social now than it was this morning.   There seems to be a particular uptick in the anxiety and aggression and it’s not the teenagers. 

     

    • #27
  28. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Social doesn’t mean sociable. 

    • #28
  29. Cassandro Coolidge
    Cassandro
    @Flicker

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Why would one want to visit the living room of a harlot?

    Because Jesus did.  In fact he dined with sinners and had a harlot wash his feet with her tears.

    And ask Pinchas and Caleb sometime about Rahab’s living room.  She used red yarn.

    • #29
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