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A little while back at Text Patterns, Alan Jacobs responded to the claim that opting out of technology like Facebook is no longer possible. His reply was very commonsensical:
“I love this almost-always-on connected life, Lord knows I do, but of course opting out is an option even for those who want to be “informed,” at least for now. I could subscribe to and read only print magazines — even just monthly and quarterly magazines — and be fully informed about everything I need to be informed about.
We tell ourselves, by way of self-justification, that we need Twitter, need our RSS feeds, need Facebook. But no, we don’t. We just like them very much. And as far as I’m concerned that’s good enough. It’s just necessary always to remember that we’re making choices and could, if we wished, make different ones about how we’re informed and what we’re informed about.”
And, here is an older quote from James Bowman that I just stumbled upon. Honor is a topic dear to Mr. Bowman’s heart, but this is the first time I noticed him relating social networking to it:
“That may be one reason why so many young people are eager to escape that world for the different sort of friendship offered by Facebook, MySpace and other social networking sites. Those friends don’t have their eyes on you all the time, and their access to you may be controlled. Also…they make only trivial and mostly painless demands upon you. Friendship, in being extended so widely is cheapened, and its hold upon us — which is the power of honor and shame — is accordingly loosened. Like those comforting abstract concepts of our ethical world, mankind, humanity, or Planet Earth, our virtual friendships eventually reach a point where they are too large in number and too remote to care very much what any individual does.”
Compliments of Unhappy Hipsters: It’s Lonely in the Modern World. This interesting site thrives on pictures like the one below, with often amusing captions.
“It was hard to tell if social networking had instilled an instinct to compulsively pose, or if there was actually a photographer at the end of the living room.”
(Photo: Mark Steinmertz; Dwell, September 2003)