Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What A Social Network Vacation Taught Me About Life in the Stream

I'm back on the blog after a week of virtual retreat. Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be posting reflections on what life outside the stream helped me realize about life inside the stream. Here's the first:


Anonymous said...

Welcome back! Great visuals to illustrate your point. Seems the desire to be connected to the whole while still having a clear sense of self is true in any world.

Honour McMillan said...

Right now we're all talking about you behind your back! ;)

Cisop Sixpence said...

Addicted to being social? Given the opposite would be addicted to being anti-social, I guess you have the better addiction. Welcome back to the matrix!

Celestial Elf said...

Welcome back, great post,
love the artwork too :D

Celestial Elf said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scarp Godenot said...

Excellent transition visual from the empty space to the mindspace!

We are all addicted my friend. ha ha ha

AND 'misery' loves company... (except we really aren't that miserable.... heh)

Botgirl Questi said...

Michele: Thanks! It's interesting to think about how the move from tribal, hunter/gather, farming, urban, proto-Cyborg existence has modified the way we mediate between personal and social identity. In some ways, I think we're moving back to a more tribal consciousness.

Honor: Just as I suspected.

Cisop: For me, I don't perceive it as addicted to being social, but rather addicted to the "ritual" of social networking as a way to mask deeper feelings of disconnection.

Celestial Elf: Thanks! One good thing about giving the blog a week break was more time to live with ideas and in-progress work rather than posting whatever I end up within the borders of a day's work.

Scarp: Thanks! That was the key inspiration for the comic . . . the idea surrounding myself with social network avatars. The text came after the images in this case.

bob hooker said...

Simply put, this is one of the most brilliant things I have seen in any blog. A brilliant presentation with excellent ideas.

Bashful Pixie said...

I looked and looked and looked and I didn't see me *anywhere* on any of those walls.


(actually it is a very good post that says a lot in a nice pithy way in an entertaining wrapper!)

Shockwave Plasma said...

Honour....the "We love Botgirl Society" is voting on your continued membership...your not to give away our activities..or tell anyone we exist.

Bevan said...

Welcome back! Hope you enjoyed your social network retreat - looking forward to hearing more about it!

Bettina Tizzy said...

Botgirl - "Shit," indeed. I came to that same realization a few months ago. I looked at my followers on Facebook and Twitter and realized that several hundreds of them could care less about me, how I felt or what I had to say.

Yes, there are valuable and caring relationships to be had via social networks, but we don't need to mainline them during every waking hour. I now restrict the number of times and hours that I visit these sites. It was hard at first, but after a few weeks, I felt like I'd found a balance. I have reconnected with my human, my body, my local friends, my family, and my work colleagues.

I think it's possible to do be a social networker and live a full "real life," and derive even more pleasure, connections and information.

Virtual friends tend to feel disappointment when you disconnect a bit, and that's understandable since it is the only way they can communicate with you, but your emotional, physical and intellectual well-being are paramount.

I hope I haven't misunderstood your post, and if I have, I apologize. Either way, I'm happy to know you virtually, a little or a lot.

Botgirl Questi said...

Robert: Thanks. Some things can only be fully experienced through immersion, which is why I had jumped so fully into social networking. But experience can only be fully understood through periodic disengagement and reflection.

Bashful: Sorry. :) I got lazy and just copied and pasted a subset rather than grabbing the whole thing.

Shockwave: Virtual Fightclub?

Bettina: I tried to make the images universal enough so they'd resonate with a variety of related perceptions. So although my personal experience wasn't exactly what you described, it's all good!

It's interesting how just a handful of exchanges (like this) can transform someone from a profile picture in the crowd to someone who feels like a social network friend. Since I haven't had a back-and-forth exchange with the vast majority of those in my social network, it feels more like an audience to me than a large group of friends or even acquaintances.

And back at you on the happy to know you.

Lalo Telling said...

I suppose I benefit by screening attempted followers (Rule #1: it must be a virtual world avatar's account), and by "following back" only those who might interest me enough to have an exchange of ideas at some point. That is: less like an audience, and more like a collection of acquaintances and genuine friends.

Meanwhile... I'm trying to figure out how "the compulsion to stay alive within the mental-space of [a] social circle" is any different in either kind or quality between on- and offline. Perhaps there's a nascent inability to do both -- undiscovered, like quarks, until technology made it visible -- and most of us feel we must choose one or the other.

My own choice (which should be obvious) is the online/virtual... and welcome back! :)

Botgirl Questi said...

Lalo: Less is more for sure! For me, part of my role in the virtual world is performer. I often think of what I do here as bordering on performance art. The challenge for me is that pervasive social networking (and virtual identity to some degree) blurs the boundary between domains. Instead of having set-aside times and places devoted to particular avocations, roles, relationships, etc., the always-on, always-network-connected life allows the virtual to be the preeminent force.

Timber Oceanlane said...

Just started following your blog before your retreat. Welcome back. I'm looking forward to hearing about your real/online life insights along with your usual thought provoking blogs.

Extropia DaSilva said...

Heya Botgirl. So glad to see you blogging again!

I read about an experiment not so long ago. Robert Zajonc pretended to conduct a test of visual memory (he was actually testing the correlation between exposure to something and the tendency to like it). Test subjects were asked to look at photographs of people, with each viewing lasting 35 seconds. But he varied the number of times each photograph was shown, so some were seen only ones, others a few times and some dozens of times.

What Zajonc found was that people tended to feel more positively toward the person in a photo if they were shown that photo more often.

This got me thinking about online social networks. Because A) it shows the physical presence of the object of one's affection is not a prerequisite for developing that affection and B) OSNs can provide much more information about someone than a mere photograph. It seems reasonable to conclude we therefore develop much stronger ties with our online companions.

Mera Kranfel said...

wb! Sorry to say, I have come to the same conclusion. So I say; shit!

(I wanna be Bettina Tizzy when I grow up *sniff*)

Botgirl Questi said...

Extropia: That's the key to a lot of advertising. When people walk through a grocery store and scan across the shelves, they tend to notice and gravitate towards brands they're familiar with. I imagine that's true when scanning down one's twitter stream. The eye subconsciously is drawn more to recognized avatar images. I think I've read some research that faces do better than logos.

Kranfel: Yeah. I intentionally didn't include any judgements beyond the "shit." I suspect that environmental factors that pull one to be connected all the time are going to keep escalating. I think it's too early to predict the net benefits and loss, but for now I think it's good to at least stay conscious of what it's doing to us personally.