Friday, May 26, 2006

All hail the power of MySpace

It's taking over every one of my friends' lives, so I can't help but be awed by its potency. John only recently discovered it... two days ago, in fact... and he doesn't seem to be able to get enough. He's been posting pictures and hunting down friends for hours and hours at a time, which is sort of cute and all, but wow. I mean, he's really putting a lot of effort into it. As it turns out, so are a lot of people I know. Okay, fine. I'll join in. I was already on MySpace, but I'd only gone through the motions, really, doing very little to jazz up my page. Now I'm pleased to announce that I'm the proud parent of two, count 'em, TWO MySpace pages. One is a regular one, which you find if you just type in "Emily McSpadden" when performing a name search; the other one can be found under the "MySpace Music" heading, using the same method of typing in my name. The nice thing about that second one is that there are four of my songs posted (two of them being brand new versions), so people get to hear what I'm up to. Oh, and I get to see how often each one's been listened to. Call me easy to impress, but I'm really diggin' on that feature.

We have a capacity now that we've never had before as a global community to stay in touch. We have the means to speak to one another in so many different ways, and it takes as much effort as brushing your teeth (or less, some would argue). It's marvelous. It's a testament to how far we've come as a society steeped in its own technlogical effervescence, floating along on the warm techno-neon glow of the cosmos-cloud we know as the internet. I'm a big fan. Still, it's a little weird. It's still impersonal, still detatched and aloof. The thing is, it's too easy. That's the strange thing about communication, about staying in touch. It used to be such an effort. Now that it's as simple as shooting an email off into the internet ether, we feel as though we're a little more conected than we would have been otherwise. I can't disagree with that. And yet, how connected are we really?

I've got friends all over the place who I keep up with via emals, MySpace, Friendster, and even blogs like this one. Basically, it keeps me informed. But does that necessarily mean that I reach out to them at every opportunity, or at least a fraction of those opportunities, given that there are now so many? Or do I just appease my curiosity, then go about my day without saying so much as a hello? And should I even bother with this question... shouldn't I just be grateful that I have this contact at all, impersonal though it may be? I don't know... I'm a bit torn on the issue. I have a few blogs that I hit regularly, read up on current events in friends' lives... why do I do it? Is it my own little reality television show, played out before me at my choosing? Am I searching for connection that I don't really have to work for?

That's the rub, folks... connection doesn't just happen. Okay, yes, there are people you meet and instantly hit it off with, and that's what we like to call "connection." That, however, isn't the sort I'm referring to here. Keeping a connection alive and kicking is a labor, whether it be one of love or morbid curiosity. The easier it gets, the lazier we seem to become about it. Some people are better at it than others, and I admire that tenacity, or that talent, or that genetic coding, or whatever it is that makes it possible for those people who are the envy of slacker friends everywhere. Most of us, though, have a little trouble with connection. We do what we can, but, to be honest, we could do so much more, and we know it.

So then we get really weird about it. We post things, like blogs and websites and pages on MySpace and Friendster, like bait on a hook. Then, we toss it in... and we wait. We wait for someone to do the work of finding us. We figure we've done the work of putting the baited hook out there, so that amounts to our end of the effort. So, like lowest-effort early morning fishing, we stick the pole in the dirt and do other things, then check once in a while to see if we've gotten any nibbles. Sometimes we do, and presto, we're in touch. Sometimes, when we've got nothing better to do, we go on a slightly more proactive hunt, seeking out other people's hooks. After that, nothing much changes, for the most part. You know where people are, as well as a general idea of what they're doing, but you don't necessarily go out of your way any more than before to make that contact meaningful. It's just strange, when you think about it, especially when, at the root of things, we all really do mean to keep in touch.

Perhaps it's a harsher view than I ought take on modern interaction among old friends, but it's how it's struck me of late. I'd love to get together with a lot of the people I run into online, these old friends from years and years of personal history that I forever feel fondly toward, and yet it hardly ever takes place. Oddly enough, the lack of effort seems to be mutual... there aren't loads of people clammoring to hook up with me for a coffee once they've seen my website or sent me an email for old time's sake. Should I take offense, or feel guilty, or allow myself to feel the pang of not being missed quite enough for that extra level of effort? Should they feel that about me in return?

Who knows. Chances are, we're all just too damn busy to do much more. I know that when I do try to hook up with old frends and catch up on things, it takes days to get to everyone on the list of folks I schedule in, I never make it all the way through said list, and I've exentually exhausted my vacation and myself in the process of the amity-fueled exertion. Is it worth it? Yeah, I think so. It's been worth it every time I've done it. Why don't I do it more often? Because I'd never see John if I tried to see everyone else I wanted to during my breaks in Texas, or my free time wherever else I go. That's what I suppose it comes down to, then... we have new lives, new here-and-now relationships... wedging the old ones in becomes an artificial excercise, well-meaning though it may be. It's still a good idea to do it, though, from what I can tell. And as often as possible, if you ask me. We only have one shot at this round of living, after all.

I'll be in Dallas for about five days next week. If there are any takers on a coffee, let me know, and I'm there.


Blogger christine said...

well if you get a chance send a shout out my way and maybe we can meet somewhere for a cuppa joe...

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 10:51:00 AM  

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