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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… ; )


26 Comments

  1. Eric Johnson Says:

    OK – it was me. I wrote your phone number on the wall at the PPA Show – I figured you were never coming back so you wouldn’t see it and find out…

    Tuesday February 24, 2009
  2. Michele Bell Says:

    E, you can write my number anywhere, any time! ; ) Love to you and Connie! — M

    Tuesday February 24, 2009
  3. Cindy Jorgenson Says:

    Okay – so I just finished my 25 random things list. :) I never understood the send a drink aspect. Like you, if someone wants to send me a drink it better get me drunk!

    Wednesday February 25, 2009
  4. Michele Bell Says:

    And that, my dahling Cin-ful, is why I adore you! Miss you! — M

    Wednesday February 25, 2009
  5. Rhonda Burns Says:

    That was an outstanding discourse on social networking sites. Believers think it brings them closer to their “friends” when in all reality….it just can not compare to the real deal! I’ll buy you a drink in NY!

    Wednesday February 25, 2009
  6. Michele Bell Says:

    Hi Rhonda! Thanks for the comment and for reading the blog — I look forward to meeting you in NYC and having a cocktail! ; )
    – M

    Wednesday February 25, 2009
  7. Gina Barreca Says:

    And my number one reason for joining facebook… I looked hot circa 198something. So to all my “friends” out there – keep posting those pictures! I’ll be in NY on Tuesday.

    Thursday February 26, 2009
  8. Jane Linderman Says:

    You are the best writer ever! I hate all those things you wrote about for all the same reasons. Give me the real deal, really.

    Thursday February 26, 2009
  9. Claire Beaulieu Says:

    Dear Michele, no reason why you should remember me, but read your “Dissertation” on Social? networking, and could not agree MORE! I truly don’t get it. How in blazes can you be “friends” with someone you don’t know? (Let alone “falling” in love online)

    also, whatever happened to not laundering your dirty family/personal business in public? Be afraid, very afraid, ala “OctoMom” nothing and no one is SAFE! And we wonder why so many people are “Lonely”. So gratified to read the thoughts of someone I can totally agree with. I promise that if I ever run into/meet you ANYWHERE, I WILL buy YOU a REAL Drink – whatever your pleasure! Claire

    Thursday February 26, 2009
  10. Andrea Friedell Says:

    I use Facebook to keep up with family members who don’t have time to talk on the phone, but we don’t post inane comments. We live too far apart to get together, as you imagine.

    Friday February 27, 2009
  11. Peter Says:

    That was awesome. Finally someone who has not drank the Cool-Aid! I can’t wait to look back at how ridiculous the whole “Social Networking” phase was some day – hopefully soon!

    Friday February 27, 2009
  12. Michele Bell Says:

    Thanks to everyone (and a special shout-out to “Saint” Jane and Gina B.!) for taking the time to post and for “getting” where I’m coming from. As Hunter S. Thompson said in his heyday: “Crazies always find each other.” ; ) And to Andrea, kudos to you and your family for not posting inane comments — you get special dispensation from my rant. : ) Have a great weekend! — M

    Friday February 27, 2009
  13. Michele Bell Says:

    And to Claire, thanks so much for the drink offer! Can’t wait to meet you, too!
    – M

    Friday February 27, 2009
  14. Timothy Andrews Says:

    You quoted Time magazine, which now has 13 pages in a fat issue and can’t possibly ever recover because the publisher doesn’t get that we don’t need a weekly news chronicle anymore, as having final say on Facebook and social networking? I think you just are afraid someone will recognize you and we’ll all find out your true identity!

    Saturday February 28, 2009
  15. Michele Bell Says:

    The article was actually on Time.com, but you are correct about me using an alias and having a fake identity: My real name is Candy Samples and I’m really a superhero, saving the world from bad fashion — one pair of Jimmy Choo stilettos at a time. ; )

    Check out these Time articles regarding Facebook.com:

    Why Facebook Is for Old Fogies
    25 Things I Didn’t Want to Know About You

    Sunday March 1, 2009
  16. Donna Lambertucci (aka Gruberg) Says:

    Michele, this is a HOWL! and as an admitted facebook freak, I stand embarassed by the truisms you’ve published. HOWEVER, I have refused to “friend” old boyfriend. too weird.

    Wednesday March 4, 2009
  17. Cynthia Says:

    This makes me laugh. Well written. Although, blogging is social networking, and it appears that you have networked your way into getting several drinks in NY…lol. I have to say, in my opinion, social networking sites are a great way to keep in touch with family, friends, and exchange photos; rather than with good old fashioned snail mail. I have 95 friends on my site… and I acutally know about 70 of them (or more), and they have never offered to buy me a virtual drink. Balance… is good. ;)

    Wednesday March 4, 2009
  18. Anne Says:

    WOW, I could not have said it better. Thanks for clearing up alot of the lingo I do not ubderstand and do not wish to understand! Bravo piece!!

    Saturday March 7, 2009
  19. melissa Says:

    Thanks for the tip to Al’s “…Pentiums” video. I can forward the link to my cohorts and employees (all younger and cooler) and look “hip”.
    I suspect the kids who got picked first for dodgeball and kickball back then aren’t so stunningly successful as adults. What say you?

    Monday March 9, 2009
  20. Michele Bell Says:

    Hi Melissa! Glad you liked the “Pentiums” video — it just slays me! Regarding dodgeball and kickball, I didn’t get picked to play at all — I was too busy sitting on the sidelines and chatting up the bad boys… ; )

    Monday March 9, 2009
  21. Chris Miller Says:

    Pretty sad post… Social Networking is how people communicate these days. Those who do not embrace it in business, will be out of business. I would take some time to educate yourself before making foolish posts like this one.

    Wednesday March 11, 2009
  22. Michele Bell Says:

    Thanks for taking the time to post a comment, Chris. Despite my issues with online social networking, clearly ASI — as a business entity — supports it (the company has a Facebook presence and hosts its own industry social networking site, after all). Obviously everyone is entitled to their own opinion, though I will say this: If anyone is in desperate need of a virtual drink, it’s you. — M

    Wednesday March 11, 2009
  23. Steve Gnoza Says:

    So is this a dictorial blog? Until I saw Chris’ comment, I starting to think anything refuting MB was being deleted by one of her tech geeks.

    Wednesday March 11, 2009
  24. Michele Bell Says:

    Hi Steve — Thanks for posting. Definitely not a dictatorial blog — I’ve never had anyone’s comments deleted. Not my style… As I said, everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. – M

    Thursday March 12, 2009
  25. Gary Smith Says:

    How is all of the above any more sad and lame than blogging, commenting on blogs, or this 1998-style “chat channel” they just bogged down my ESP with? I’m leaving it on long enough to build up my superiority complex as I discover that between Google and, I dunno, the SEARCH FUNCTIONS IN ESP ITSELF, every single one of these questions in chat could be answered. Also, it’s helping me with the fact that deep down, I still miss CompuServe.

    I might pop on long enough to offer my fellow distributors a virtual drink. I’ll hang up and listen to your reply.

    Friday March 13, 2009
  26. Candace Hershey Says:

    My stomach is hurting so badly from laughing that I may need to go home sick!!! I am definately look forward to a “real” drink with you tomorrow night! ;)

    Wednesday April 8, 2009

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