Written Letter Project–Neo-Luddites, Unite!
Generally, on every one of my days off, I clamber out of bed, put on some water for coffee, and go straight to the computer. Once there, I proceed to worship, red-eyed and impervious to the real world; but what am I worshiping, and why? I am inexplicably drawn to the scale of human broadcast, and to the scope of internet-bred, interconnectivity. The pull is something preternatural; something I desire without real necessity for it. In concept, the abstract of social networking sites is fairly sound; people who are looking to connect with other people, for the purpose of soliciting trades, work, objects, new experiences, discussion or closure to previous real encounters, are lured together by their common aim. The hope is that these searches will be fulfilled, and in truth, there has been a degree of that fulfilled for me since I began to “link myself in”. I have found jobs, found old friends, found new friends, found creative outlets, found great discussions, and sold goods. However, I’ve also found my excursions into the real world diminishing.
The core concept of the social networking site is sound, and it works. Problems arise however, when too much variety is induced due to the risen commercial viability of these sites. Opportunities to “connect” spring up innumerably within a climate of profitability. These extra choices mean that people can pick and choose where they want to associate based on trends, features, and popularity. The negative counter effect is that in order to completely achieve the potential of the original, core concept, one needs to be a member to a growing number of different social sites; “Etsy” to sell your creations, “Craigslist” to find work and living situations, “MySpace” to indulge your vanity and connect with half the people you want to speak to, “Facebook” for inane, “Sportscenter”-like updates on your friends’ moods and to connect with the other half of the people you want to speak with, “Classmates” to find links to your high school buddies, “Linked-In” to prove you are professionally aware, and not to mention, the billions of blogs that are commensurate with our unequivocal allegiance to reading them. The result is that the original, core concept has been eradicated, impossible to achieve because we have diluted it beyond recognition. The promise of all of this social connectivity was to subsidize our experiences, but instead it has replaced them, and in the process, we have even changed the purpose of the social site; no longer do we subscribe to them seeking a connection, now we subscribe to them to eliminate the risk of missing one. The difference is profound. We have successfully traded the murmur of people in a cafe and the warmth of sunshine on our faces for the profile tune of some static avatar and the blinking lights of a computer screen. And after all, what’s wrong with being anonymous?
The internet is not the “Great Equalizer” that it marketed itself to be; instead of awakening our understanding, it has subjugated it. There is a lot wrong with gaining whatever truth you want at the click of a mouse, and it is something even worse that we have conditioned ourselves to accept it. What’s the answer? There isn’t one; the internet will continue on, social sites will continue to spring up, and we sorry fools will continue to spread ourselves thin trying to enlist their promises. For me, however, I’m going to try swimming in a somewhat different direction with the Written Letter Project. Over the course of the next six weeks, I am going to cancel all of my social networking site subscriptions, and provide my address to any of my friends who want it. If you write me, I will write you back, and the best part is that we are both engaging in something tangible. No User ID’s or Logins required.
Neo-Luddites, unite!! The project will consist of me analyzing how easily I reconvert to reality, whether or not my friends are willing to participate, and what the true benefits are.
Schedule for my cancelations:
1. By March 24- I will cancel Facebook, Etsy, and Linked-In, as well as any other small tangental connections that I have made online.
2. By April 7- I will cancel my email account.
3. By April 21- I will cancel my MySpace account.
I have chosen the cancelations in this order due to the amount of associations that I have made through them; less to more. The only exceptions that I will make to my online exposure will be to the blog that I write for once a week d’ArteBoard.com, and for all of my accounts associated with my business, LibertinePhotography.net(I rarely check these). The goal is to limit my computer exposure to one day a week, and to minimize it at that. I want to get back out into the world and start enjoying reality!