Do You Have an Overabundance of Ambient Awareness?

3 Dec

     This world of social networking (blogging, tweeting, facebooking) has me partially freaked out but also partially intrigued. I think these social networking sites can be powerful, insightful, and a way to build a sense of awareness by making connections that never existed before. These sites can be used in so many different ways, by so many different people, for various purposes. These social networking sites can be used for news, business, education, dating, events, fundraising, advertising, family, and let’s face it, stalking. It has its positives, but also produces negatives. The positives for me are keeping in touch with family and friends that live far away, watching my baby cousins grow from crawling babies, to walking and talking toddlers, to hip teenyboppers. It gives me this “ambient awareness” that Johnson talks about in his article, “How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live.” But the negative part of this for me is that I find I have an overabundance of ambient awareness.

I notice this overabundance of ambient awareness when I see someone, face-to-face, that I haven’t seen in years. If this occurred in the past, prior to the existence of social networking, conversations would be flowing, news would be spilling, and congratulations or condolences would be spoken. Now, because of these social networking sites, the news is already known. The conversations quickly run stale. I already know “she” got engaged to her new “rock star” boyfriend from the picture of her 10 carat, princess cut diamond ring that effortlessly appeared on my Facebook newsfeed. I already know that she didn’t just gain weight, and in fact she is expecting her first child because of the 3D ultrasound picture she posted on twitter. I already know: her dog ran away from seeing her Facebook status, she is now vegetarian from clicking on the hyperlink to her nutritional blog, her grandfather died from seeing the date and time of his mass on her tweet, and the reason she is wearing a cast on her left foot is because she broke 3 metatarsals when her horse, Dolly, accidently stomped on her from seeing the picture she posted on Facebook. Although my rant is a bit exaggerated, these scenarios tend to be very true. I miss the genuine, “How are you?”, “What is new?”, “How is the family?” There is nothing left for verbal discussion. But who is to blame? People are going to continue facebooking, tweeting, and blogging, and yet we will still be curious to read what they have to share. So are we all nosey stalkers? Or are we all intellectual sponges eager to absorb information with a profound fondness for reading and writing?

Regardless of our reasons for sharing ourselves and information to the public, whether it is ”thick or thin”, “Let’s just say it’s communication, and communication is something human beings like to do.” (Attwood).  This new world of social networking may be changing the way we verbalize face-to-face, but communication is occurring more than ever, just in a different way, in a new writing space, which #connects us to each other like never before.

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