Response to “Welcoming the Decline of the Twittering Class”

Wow. The article “Welcoming the Decline of the Twittering Class” assumes that there always is a simple and direct relationship between one thing and the other, a simple cause and effect relationship that might exist… or might not. In my experience, things are not simple.

There are many joys in my favourite west country spot, and one of them is a lack of O2 and Vodafone “connectivity”. Bliss.

I’ll comment as the article goes.  That’s fine, although I suspect that the lack of cellphones and wireless connectivity isn’t the root of bliss. A bit of quiet and a book can be had where technology exists, no? What about the library?

Facebook and similar sites have become less popular with the young, partly because nosey-parker parents and assorted other saddo old folks have elbowed their way into the craze.

A logical assumption, we’ve seen the creepy treehouse syndrome play out before. The linked Ofcom study was published in 2008, presumably gathering data from 2007. So this youth flight from Facebook isn’t necessarily something new. Evidence since then indicates that this flight isn’t permanent. It’s the ebb and flow of the growth of these types of sites. This thing has happened before too, remember Myspace?  It also happened when Facebook registration was opened and the older students left when high school students started flocking to the site. When old folks (anyone over 25) cramp the style of kids… well. It’s embarrassing.

Which is the gist of the next couple paragraphs. Which leads me to this choice piece:

It’s like the caricature of the Japanese rist with the cine-camera who spills out of the bus and doesn’t stop to look at a cathedral, painting or sparkling bay, because they are so busy filming it. Likewise, if you are watching yourself and reporting on yourself, how can you fully feel, when everything is mediated? Reality takes second place to a life in which you become the star of your own dull movie, and the director too.

Are you kidding me? Invoking some caricature to make your point? Please. Stepping aside from that a second, The author seems to think that people are incapable of doing more than one thing at once. How can you fully feel when everything is mediated?  Does media and or documentation interfere with feeling? Are we incapable of feeling and writing about what we feel? Sort of like what I’m doing now? Geez, I dunno, maybe ask Michael Wesch?

Reality is the location and you are the star in your dull movie, your life is your script. Considering that my life is something less than dull, you can take your condescending tone and shove it. Whether or not you think my life is dull, has no effect on what I choose to publish. I may not think that everything is dreadfully interesting in everyone else’s life, but that’s where I can make decisions. A decision to not engage that person or ignore their posts and ideas. Maybe that’s what I should’ve done with this Guardian piece.


But it’s what these sites can do to self-esteem and friendship that worries me more.

It’s unfortunate that you think that social networking will destroy self-esteem and friendship any more than modern advertising or avarice. Of the millions of people who engage in social networking, I would venture to guess that the number of people who have been bullied or harmed would be equal to that of those who were bullied or harmed in society in general. Of course, as we all try to navigate the way through new technology, it takes a while to view the real impact.

Moving on, I do agree with the fact that teenagers could become depressed with their online relationships, even to the point of feeling desolate. Of course, this is no different than in high school. The difference is that online relationships do not exist in a vacuum, many of the online relationships also exist offline, in real life. That is where isolation from online and offline groups and networks becomes dangerous. When people are isolated from both groups of supports, tragedy can occur. More on this later.

In the old days, bad girls flashed their knickers, and worse. Now they sextext; and the object of their fancy sticks the result online and a million voyeurs can get a gawp.

I will also ask the author to recall in the old days, stag movies were made and distributed mostly by amateurs and those would circulate. Many of my friends wanted to work at photo labs to see all the weird things people did in their bedroom. The only difference is scale and availability. Social networking facilitates the transmission, but not the scale or availability. The web did that.  Also, the key to your sentence is that the object of their fancy betrays the trust of the two sexters, and puts it online, not any sort of social networking or twitter.

Presumably older Facebookers are thicker skinned and more able to cope; their “friends” may even be real ones.

Again, the author dips into online friends are not offline friends. My ten year old does not have any significant number of friends who are not her offline friends or acquaintances. Sure, you’ll scoff and say that’s because I’ve prevented her from doing so. No, she’s made that choice herself. We’ve made her aware that not everyone is who they say they are on Club Penguin or on the Nintendo DS network and she’s chosen well. Does that mean everyone will? No. I’m not everyone’s parent though.

But you cannot have a full human relationship without being in the presence of the other person. Communication means gestures, tone of voice, eye contact and a constant assessment of the other person’s reactions.

Oh. Wow. I think you can have a full human relationship without being in the presence of the other person. Prior to the internet, and in fact, video, many people corresponded and had real relationships without meeting. And if we cannot have a full relationship without the presence of another person, how do you explain all the problems you outlined above? Surely a person who is insulted by someone who has no relationship with them can be ignored. Yes, it stings, but you can brush it off right? Nothing to become depressed about or … oh wait. Sorry you can become depressed and feel isolated. Never mind.

Anyone who knows the blogosphere understands that people spout things they would consider unacceptable if they were standing in the room and couldn’t hide behind the cloak of anonymity.

And anyone who blogs for five minutes knows that anonymous comments are deleted 99.99% of the time. Any site worth it’s salt, including the Guardian newspaper, discourages anonymous commentary, and while it’s not your name always, it’s a click away from an e-mail, blog, twitter account or other form of contact. And who cares, it’s not real, right?