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Counselor Senior Editor Michele Bell's slanted view of the world.

What the Hell is a “Twitter”?

Filed under: Fun, Personal

Hi Everyone!

Sorry I’ve been incommunicado — I’ve had crazy, overlapping magazine deadlines that have been stalking me like buzzards flying lazing circles.

However, my absence from blogging has given me time to ponder my latest loony rant: just how much I despise online social networking. It’s not that I’m averse to new forms of technology per se… Some of my favorite people here at ASI are the Tech Geeks, or as I call them, The Joy Stick Club. 

So what’s my issue with online social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and MySpace? They’re the nexus for all things annoying in life, and one more nail in the coffin of personal, human interaction. Heretowith, the eight reasons why online networking is the current bane of my existence:

1. The Tedious Play-by-Play. Am I the only one who doesn’t care that Mrs. Blah Blah is “out having the dog groomed” or that Larry Lame “just had a burrito for lunch.” Let me end the suspense for you: Michele is sitting at her computer right now, rolling her eyes in an exasperated fashion and using variations of a word that rhymes with “duck.”

2. When, Exactly, Did “Friend” Become a Verb? I get daily invitations from people who want to “Friend” me, Link with me and Tweet me (which sounds way more salacious and fun than it is). Really? First of all, if I consider you a friend and want you to have an all-access pass to my life, you already have my e-mail address and cell phone number, which I sometimes think has been written on bathroom walls at ASI shows, so many industry people seem to have it. Do we really need one more avenue through which to know every single detail about a person and to be able to contact them 24/7? I love you all dearly… I love my privacy more.

3. Ghosts of Boyfriends Past. My friend Meg and I have known each other since the first grade. We know each other’s dirty little secrets and have been there for all the major events in each other’s life. Meg called me last week to tell me that she’s now on Facebook and has been in contact with a guy we went to high school with — let’s call him Loser McMoron. The cringe-inducing part? Loser McMoron is the first person I had sex with and the thought of my oldest friend chatting him up after all these years unnerves the hell out of me. Do I regret the losing-my-virginity sex? Nope. I regret the fact that it was with a Reagan Republican. I still shudder at the thought. The moral of the story? Some people belong in the past. Unlike Christ, resurrecting them isn’t hallelujah-worthy.

4. The “25 Random Things” List on Facebook. Please. Have we really become this self-important and self-involved that we need to share every little cockamamie, weirdo aspect of our lives? Because I refuse to engage in online networking, my cousin read her list to me, much to my chagrin. Number 6 on her list was “Sometimes, when I’m sad, I sneak a piece of cake and eat it in my bedroom.” Good Lord. Who needs to know that? Have we no shame? And by the way, to my cousin I say: Anyone who’s walked behind you lately would agree that the sneaky cake-eating isn’t exactly a secret.

5. My mother is on Facebook.

6. The Whining Wall. My aforementioned mother, Judge Judye (again, she doesn’t preside over a court, but she is judgemental), is a new member to the Facebook community, which is reason enough for me to disavow it as a harbinger of the apocalypse. She’s eager for me to join so she can post messages on my “Wall.” I’m not quite sure what that is, but am fairly certain they have one in hell. To be clear, my mother utilizes every form of modern communication — phone, e-mail, text message — to reach her recommended daily allowance of nagging. Giving her one more portal to do so is the last thing I need. When I didn’t call her back within five minutes after her leaving me message on Sunday night because I was watching the Oscars, she sent me an Instant Message reminding me that she was in labor with me for 10 hours. Oy gevault, sighs this shiksa.

7. Virtual “Drinks.” As someone who still gets a special thrill uncorking a new bottle of Grey Goose and pouring it over a glacial stack of ice, the concept of a “virtual drink” is just downright twisted and evil. The premise, as it’s been explained to me, is this: A person sends out an invitation to all his online “friends” to have a drink, and if you accept, a mini-program is downloaded, thereby letting your wild and crazy online posse tie one on. (A word of caution: Drink responsibly or you may end up getting Control-Alt-Deleted right into Virtual Rehab.) Joe Haley, my editorial colleague and star of The Joe Show, tells me, “It’s like being in a bar and drinking with all your friends.” Yes, it certainly seems so in every way — except that there’s no real bar, there are no real, live friends and, most importantly, THERE IS NO ALCOHOL. If I want to drink in a bar with friends, I require it to be so real that I feel the thud of dead weight hitting the floor as they boozily fall off their bar stools like sacks of potatoes.

8. The Popularity Contest. I have actually witnessed conversations between middle-aged people in which they complain that they “only have 60 MySpace friends while SoandSo has 500″ or lamenting for far longer than they should that their request to be someone’s “friend” has been declined. I’m just guessing here, but I think these are also the people who brought their cousins as prom dates and were the last kids to be picked for dodgeball.

Now lest you think I’m alone in my anti-online networking sentiment, Time magazine just declared Facebook “the place for old fogies” and about as hip as Pat Boone. “There was a time when it was cool to be on Facebook,” the magazine noted. “That time has passed.”

Additionally, my techno-dork BFF Jeremy whom I mentioned earlier in this blog drew his own line in the sand last November by removing himself and all evidence he ever existed from Facebook (which speaks volumes about his threshold for geekiness because has NO problem proudly and readily admitting that he’s the secretary in an amateur astronomy club): “Social networks are the new world order of how people hang out,” he says. “It used to be that you’d hang out with friends and it was fun. Now you ‘hang out’ with people online and don’t even know some of themThere’s an entire Internet of people spewing nonsense that I couldn’t care less about … and they’re not there for me to mock in person.” 

My reason for shunning online networking is different: I like my real-life friends — the ones who can meet for real meals and show up to provide rides, alibis and testimony for the defense at a moment’s notice. When online friends can do that, I’ll be all aTwitter.  

Cheers!

– M

PS: Hope to see you at ASI’s New York Show from March 8-10. I’ll be the one consuming real drinks… ; )