Are Social Networks Killing the Art of Personal Blogging?

Most people invest a lot of time and effort in social networking. Virtual socializing has almost replaced actual socializing. For people who are shy and introverted like myself, it is much easier to share stories and news on my wall. The social networks make it also very easy to wish people well on their birthday (rather than diarise and try to remember it ahead of time), it is also no effort at all to congratulate social network friends on their successes or send them well-meaning words when they advertise a failure or difficulty. I know many people who have sworn off social networking because they feel it infringes on their privacy. They think, and rightly so, that they have no control over the information they share with the world. Once you write a word or a statement it will be out there, whether you delete it, or close your whole social network account, it will remain accessible to someone out there, and is therefore bound to haunt you for the rest of your life. If you think conspiracy theory and big brother, you are going to have a huge problem with this idea. However, if you think human accountability, responsibility, and standing up for consequences, you will be able to breathe a little easier.

Personally, I find social networks hugely useful. They connect me to members of my family whom I am unlikely to meet anywhere else. The last time I visited my birth country was ten years ago, and I am unlikely to visit anytime soon. My other friends in South Africa, I see once I year at most and it is wonderful to be able to see the events of their lives on a daily basis. I see the pictures of their growing children and follow them on their vacations, when the great distance prevents me from keeping closely with them. I have no qualms about posting my own pictures, comments and ideas on a social network either. I feel it is one way of communicating with friends across great distances. The great success of social networking shows that it has filled a great need to communicate between people. This came of course with some disadvantages, I hinted at earlier. They are a poor substitute for actual face-to-face socializing, they perversely encourage people to become anti-social, for example it is easier to write a message on friend’s wall (and I mean here a friend in the old-fashioned sense) instead of picking up the phone and talking to them. They have also diluted the old-fashioned meaning of the word friend until it became synonymous with somebody you met once at a cocktail party. Finally, they simply produce too much information, which places pressure on our time. Once you are aware of these negative aspects, however, you can target them specifically with remedies. For example, give actual, not virtual, time to your real friends. Regularly cull friends with whom you are unlikely to cross path with ever again. Exercise your own rules in your own personal space to limit the amount of time wasted on social networks, and limit your interests to things you really want to know about, and to as little products and services (advertising) as possible.

Social Networks are in the end a business, and the members are potential capital, so the more time you spend interacting with them the more likely you are to buy something from them or from one of their partners or advertisers. You have to balance the benefits you get from them against the time and effort you invest. It is no surprise that in their quest for larger chunks of your time these networks make it increasingly easier to share, connect and communicate with other. The most famous social network is constantly evolving and upgrading. Giving users more and more ways to build a profile, that is now almost indistinguishable from a blog. I cannot think of anything I can do on this blog that I cannot do on my social networking “site”. With the added advantage that on the social network I already have a built-in audience in the form of my social network friends. During the past year, as I experienced a hiatus in my blogging enthusiasm I wondered whether sharing through social networking had something to do with it, and until now I am not clear on this in my own mind.

What is your view of this phenomenon? Do you think the blurred boundaries between social networking and blogging are positive or negative? Will blogging survive and evolve through this, or will it be in the end one application or function of social networking? I am curious to find out.

Losing it… Again.

I have been living in New York now for over a year, and time has once more flown and there are many things I failed to catch up with.

Last year, against all odds I had a very close brush with falling in love. It was not pretty. I had the anxiety, the heartache, I was worried, and I was jealous. Mostly though I felt guilty and uncomfortable. When this happened, it came out of nowhere, and after all the tears and the self-blame and the fear, it suddenly died down to nothing. When I finally put an end to it, I felt nothing but absolute relief.

This puts a new spin on my life. Now I have entered the realm of villains. I broke up, without thinking twice or giving any reason, with someone who has perhaps learned to love me. I am ashamed of this, a little, but I could not pretend love once it was gone. It is over, I face it, and live with the consequences. Now there is an awkward silence between two people who perhaps could have been friends, if it was not for a period of insanity when I allowed emotion to triumph over reason.

Last March Robert and I flew to South Africa, and shortly after that trip I decided to pull the plug on my ailing project of a relationship. Since April I have vowed to devote myself to my work, and to my son. I scarcely have time for myself, let alone the energy to nurture a relationship or heaven forbid a late second marriage. Besides, now that I am past forty I think it makes sense to play it cool. I am almost certainly past bearing another child, so why should I try to find a mate? Unfortunately, unlike my mother, I find myself often swayed from the kingdom of reason, especially that there is no lack of single men in the workplace. In all the years following my divorce I was always surrounded by married men, seriously involved men, or gay men. These are my kind of men, they are safe to flirt and joke with, and they are certainly off limits. I am immune to married men. Ironically, I was also safe when I was caught in the emotional wasteland of my marriage. I only started noticing other men when I broke away from it.

If it was not for my spectacular failure in my latest attempt at sharing my life with another person, I would have perhaps thrown caution to the wind, and got to know this new man that I noticed recently. But the memory and shame of that failure haunt me. I have come to suspect that, indeed, I am not fit to share with anyone.

My ex husband used to tell me that I was way too independent. He is right somewhat. I cannot bear being questioned and second guessed by a man. I would rather live with a man who did not care much, who left me some freedom, than succumb to someone who would censor my behavior with a boyfriend’s or husband’s authority. Needless to say that this train of thought and these developments in my life are starting to worry me. Therefore I will try to write about them again. Writing helped me very much through a divorce. Maybe it will protect me from setting myself up to fall in love again, because I know in advance that any romantic project I enter into will be certainly doomed to failure. Married life is not for me. Kudos to my ex who is busy trying it for the 3rd time.