Tuesday, September 30, 2008

social networking

I don't pretend to be an expert on Internet businesses. But I can't help but wonder why I keep getting invites to join new social networking sites like hi5.com so late in the game. Once in awhile I'll join one of these (otherwise useless) networks because I'm looking for the email address of a potential source, and that's the only place I can turn up through a google search. But otherwise, I don't see the point. Why would I want to monitor a dozen different web pages for mostly redundant functions--email, instant messaging--and nonsense info that I don't really care about. I've experimented with facebook, and I can see the appeal (a little). If nothing else, you can see what your old acquaintances look like now that they're old. And you can obsessively endeavor to one-up your rivals with more friends, better trips abroad, more attractive photos of yourself and your kids, etc. But facebook is a colossal waste of time, and most of the time I'd rather go out and have a beer than poke somebody or send them a virtual pint. And any network I establish on Orkut, hi5, etc. is bound to be even worse.

One email inbox, free of spam, and occasional missives from people I like. That's really all I want. Maybe some kind of efficient, all-encompassing professional directory with the work phone numbers & email addresses of every conceivable bureaucrat, corporate flack, and university professor. But I'm not holding my breath for that. Perhaps I'm unlike the usual "consumer" of this crap because I'm not stuck in a cubicle, and if I don't have any work I can just switch off my machine and go read a book or see a movie or whatever. Or perhaps I'm just an old, over-the-hill Luddite.

But please, stop inviting me to join your network. If you want to tell me something, send me an email. Or if worse comes to worst, I'm on facebook, waiting for google to integrate it with all their virtual photo albums and what have you. But I'm drawing my line in the sand there.

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