Social media and i do not make good bedfellows – perhaps a rather weird thing for a blogger to profess, but it happens to be fact. Being in control of a blog is exactly that – you are in control – it is entirely up to me how and when something new appears here, i have ultimate editorial sanction and, to a fairly decent extent, i can pick and choose who gets to comment, link to and access these pages. Perhaps there’s an element of the benign dictator in me that likes to be in control and hold the power of veto, no matter what the circumstances.
Blogging in this way might be described as ‘passive aggressive’ – the important thing, as far as i’m concerned, being that i am running the show, and that is precisely why i really don’t get on with other sites that fall under the social network umbrella. No matter what they might tell you or what powers they may give you, ultimately you conform to their specification. To be constantly hassled to sign in to various sites via Facebook, Twitter, Google and goodness knows what else is bad enough, but succumbing to the invitation can mean inadvertently bringing along all your ‘friends’, their friends, connections and tailored advertising along with you. Certainly, privacy settings can be helpful, but just how comprehensive are they? And, what happens when they change, or you simply miss one of them?
Many of us like to keep different aspects of our online presence separate – i, for example, don’t particularly want my work colleagues or boss to be involved in any part of my sl existence: As long as i call the shots, as i do when blogging, that’s not a problem, but any sense of security and anonymity disappears completely if i should put my virtual life into the hands of the bots and data crunchers of most social networks. It should pretty obvious from the term, ‘social network’, that the people behind these things imagine we all want to share every aspect of our lives with friends, family and – mostly – complete strangers, but the reality is that the majority of us, given the choice, are pretty particular about with whom we wish to share, and how much.
So why am i so enamoured of sl, which is after all a glorified social network?
In fact, sl tries very hard, and continues to try ever harder, to be the very pinnacle of social networks. It’s not enough to give us a shared virtual space, with chat, group chat, IMs, voice chat, groups, profiles, web profiles, blogs, forums and now, Lord help us, the CHUI viewer – a clonking great box that pretty much hides all the lovely stuff on the screen, just so we can network even more! However, even with all this crazy interconnectivity, social pariahs like me can still opt out, if we so choose, and still have a great time doing our own thing.
Yesterday, i was in a bad, grumpy, anti-social mood, (yes, i’m not always a paragon of virtue and extreme loveliness). Even so, i still wanted to mess about in sl; there are few better things i’ve found – other than Mr Daniels – for escaping the trials, tribulations and sheer crappiness that rl can throw at us, than escaping into a virtual world where you can do incredibly stupid things and come out smiling at the other end. So, on went the ‘busy’ tag, up came the world map and one random TP later i’m enjoying myself, without a care in the world, all on my own!
i know, better than anyone, that when things aren’t the best, neither am i! When the good times are definitely not rolling the very best thing you can do with me, is leave well alone. Let me wallow in self-pity and angst, fume and thunder all on my own, take out my frustrations in whatever way might seem appropriate, but just leave me in peace to work it out myself.
Friends are great, acquaintances can be fun, events and activities can be escapism but there are times too when i need space – my own, uninterrupted, private, ‘keep your goddam nose outta my business’ space – for that to happen, i need to be anti-social but still in a safe place; somewhere i can relate to and feel at home in – somewhere i can be, to be alone.
That, to some, may seem weird and is not a road that they will understand, but it suits me just fine and, to be brutally honest, it’s a road that – social network or not – i won’t be asking you to join me on!
Hey! You! Get off of my cloud
Don’t hang around cause two’s a crowd
On my cloud
The Rolling Stones – Get Off Of My Cloud