Sunday, January 15, 2012

Relationships and Social Media

Tuesday night, I headed over to KPCC’s Crawford Family Forum for a talk titled Relationships in the Age of Social Media. I’ve debated whether to write about this evening or not but since this has been on my mind the last few days, I guess it’s of interest. The night was recorded and should be posted on KPCC’s site if you’re so inclined.

The night was not what I expected. I’ve been to a few other evenings at the Crawford Family Forum and they have been informative and thought provoking. Tuesday’s talk took way too long to become anything close to other visits. Blog Editor Tony Pierce moderated guest panelists Alie Ward and Amanda Lewis. He opened with a sophomoric question of relationships and making them “Facebook official”--when does one change their status from single to in a relationship? Alie Ward responded that we all have now elevated ourselves to public figures and joked that “it’s complicated”. It became apparent that Alie Ward had bought into the whole Los Angeles/ Hollywood thing and talked more about herself, joking that she should be on the couch rather than creating an interesting dialog on what social networking means to relationships.

All three on the panel talked of personal experiences of editing photos, untagging and Ms. Lewis confessed to making a list of people who could view relationship status so her man in the relationship would feel ok with it and the rest of her friends wouldn’t see her change in status.

I know of one fellow blogger who wrote and posted of her changing her profile and announcing that she and her were “separated”. I haven’t had to cross that bridge but for a person of my generation that embraces social media, I still feel that I have a lot a privacy-that no one can really “cyber stalk” me and get a background check of me before we go out. I look at social media as my dinner party of 400 (on FB) and that I really don’t say or post anything that I wouldn’t say at the dinner table. (shocking to some of what I will say!) As far as relationship status on FB the panel felt it was shady and “keeping your options open” by keeping your status as single, but I feel the status is similar to the boxes on a written form and I have never seen “in a relationship” box so I will stay single on FB until I get married.

Unlike myself, one member of the audience likened Facebook to a class reunion where he wanted to share a lot on the newsfeed to create “fb envy or fb revenge”. Later in the discussion, the talk went to a place where I expected it to start, in talking about how teens use Facebook and will not start fights at school but head home and get on the computer to start maliciousness--often trying to soften the blows with an “lol” or a “jk” at the end of a terrible statement. That then segued into Tony Pierce asking about text fights. fighting over texts, and mentioned a friend of his liked to argue over g-chat, thinking that both parties would have a moment to think before they wrote or sent anything which IS interesting since she then has it “off the record” so it’s expunged after the argument is over.

After it came up that twitter was just about PR and that it could be a labyrinth of feeds, I argued that I have met more interesting people through twitter and that most on twitter are very active about meeting in reality with tweetups. They agreed that yes there are as well as tumblr meet-ups (which I have yet to experience). It does come down to device assisted communication versus interpersonal communication and how the lines have blurred, just like time bending in that if we are running late we will text and reset the clock so to speak. All this does in it’s own way, celebrate the written word and it points out that that writing is still important, although I would argue that most of these devices are more of a conversation than writing. Another friend who teaches high school told me that auto correct is killing us though and that many teens don’t bother with punctuation or capitalization. That is where we still need to recognize what is informal communication and what is formal.

My favorite idea to come out of the night was a moment talking about how texts can be a form of courting, but I do think that often women view texting different than men. Alie Ward brought up the idea of what would F Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda’s texts look like as well as the idea that Emily Dickinson would probably be on Tumblr and she’d be soooo Emo, which does bring interesting ideas and a smile to my face.

Overall, I was shocked that I was one of the few in the audience on many social networking sites. It tells me it has become an interest of mine in how we communicate and how technology is changing things yet solid writing and writing well still is important. In a time where we are inundated with more information more than ever, what we choose as our media diet and our news feed is important- be it our friends or our current event content. _______________________ _________________________________