Monday, August 8, 2011

The De-Evolution of Modern Relationships...

I am apparently a rare breed these days. I am not someone who cares about numbers, especially when they don't add up to anything tangible. In the real world, I keep a very small, close-knit group around me, and I like to think that translates in the virtual world, as well. But that appears to be a foreign concept these days, met with blank stares and a lot of confused blinking, as people wonder why I am so reluctant to just follow their new product page or befriend their new boyfriend's roommate.

In regards to Twitter, I'm not going to buy followers; I'd rather have a smaller group of concentrated individuals following me, people who actually read what I send out into the ether and care about the links to television coverage I provide. And on the flip side, I'm not going to follow you if you have nothing relevant for me to read. My Twitter page is supposed to be a professional one. That doesn't mean I don't go off on the occasional-- oh, who am I kidding? the more often than not-- tangent, but I'm there to better do my job. It's a tool for sharing my work, and for keeping up with trends and stories to better help me do my work. If you're in the industry and I find you witty, engaging, and an overall quality resource, I want to follow you. If you're not, well, don't take it personally; I consider myself more a leader than a follower anyway, and it has pained me somewhat to bring my follow count up as high as it is.

On Facebook, I do not measure my worth by the fact that I have hundreds or thousands of virtual friends; I do not accept requests simply because the site says we have people, or "likes," in common. But apparently I am the anomaly. I am the exception to the rule. In a day and age where everyone feels they must share every waking thought, the fact that I don't want a bunch of strangers commenting on my photos or reading personal correspondence makes me the odd-ball out. And I'm okay with that.

I fought Facebook in the beginning. I didn't want to sign up for a social media site that would allow people to find me. If I wanted to be in contact with you, I already would be! But ultimately I was coming to the end of my college run and so many of my friends were going off in different directions than what we thought we had been working toward for the few years that I caved. I figured it would just be "easier"-- an easier way to keep track of people, a one-stop place to get in touch with the group, whatever. But then Facebook opened up to more than just college kids, my career took me in a bit of a more public direction, and I began to rethink it all once again.

In order to avoid seeming rude or like I'm ignoring you, even though you are most likely a stranger from half-way around the country, if you send me a personal friend request on Facebook (usually unaccompanied by a message of any kind, leaving me scratching my head regarding how you found me in the first place), and I come to the conclusion that you and I have never met, never even crossed paths "IRL," I won't decline the request without send you a personal message back. Usually it's along the lines of the facts: I don't believe we've ever met and therefore I'm choosing to keep my personal page just that-- personal-- but please feel free to become a fan of my writing, since most likely that's how you found me anyway.

And more often than not I will never hear a peep back because the majority of you probably like to stay somewhat anonymous, too. You know you don't know me, so a part of you probably can't be surprised by my response. If I had accepted the person, I most likely would have never heard a peep from them either. But the mere fact that virtual strangers have access to my personal stuff is enough to put me off. I always preach that you shouldn't put anything online that you're not comfortable with people seeing, and I abide by that rule in my own personal life, but these days it seems like we have to take it a step farther. Because while I'm not embarrassed by any of the childhood photos or commentary about my dog that I share so willingly on Facebook, I am doing so in a limited space, occupied only by people I would grant such information to anyway. I did not throw it out in the universe and let it stick on "walls" across the world willy-nilly; I gave it to those I know. Our lives should be open books, but we should still reserve the right to slam the cover on anyone's fingers who we don't want reading them.

Every once in awhile I get a real gem of a response back to my message, though-- something along the lines of "Why would I become a fan of something I don't know about?" To that I usually chuckle a bit because, really, why would you want to be the friend (or "friend," as the case may be) of someone you don't know? At least with my writing you can look up articles to see if you like the style or agree with the opinions or even simply enjoy the kinds of people I interview. But by befriending someone you do not know? Let's just call it like it is: Stalk-Book.

See? Told you: tangent! Sorry if that has offended any of you. Feel free to de-friend or unfollow now.

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