I’ve desperately wanted to tell every Grown Man (or their lady-friends that are the ones actually reading this site) to quit Facebook, Twitter, and all social networking. Oh, how I’ve wanted to write lines like, “Seriously, why are you looking at pictures of your 6th grade lab partner’s honeymoon!? Who cares? Go outside!” and, “Looking to cheat? Accept that friend request.” Oh lord, I turn grizzled and cantankerous when it comes to social media.
However, this Grown Man isn’t a hypocrite. And, not only do I use the e-world to shamelessly promote this here blog and interact with “you people,” but I’m starting to come around to the fact that Facebook (and to a lesser degree, every other social networking option) isn’t just a fad — but a way of life. I’m realizing that Facebook is not just about being stalked by old high school friends that you’d rather avoid, but one portal by which to produce and consume all business, entertainment, and socialization. It is, in a sense, the new Silk Road, the new telegraph, the new email, and the Brave New World (or 1984?).
So, how should Grown Men responsibly harness the power of social networking while still remaining respectable and timeless?
1- Just say no. One of the main issues I have with all e-socialization is the wide swath of people that now have access to you and your life. I’m not all freaked out about Internet security and “the man in the black helicopter” stealing “your secrets.” I’m more concerned with the fact that you, me, and everyone in the world shouldn’t have access to you, me, and everyone in the world. Here’s why: As humans, we have a limited capacity for human connections. Some theories suggest that we can’t really know more than 100 people well and, after that, our lives get filled with needless information and insincere friendships.
Bro. For real, listen to me Bro. I’VE GOT 4,380 freakin’ friends. And, I’ve poked all of them.
Yuck, gross, c’mon! In truth, you only really know about 20 of them and the rest of them are simply pawns in your quest to feel popular without really knowing anyone. What I’m proposing is that when you get a friend request, you ask yourself the following question: Do I care to be in community with this person, or do I just want to be voyeuristic? If it’s option one, go for it! If it’s option two, realize that nothing productive, respectful, or polite comes from simply looking in on someone’s life without participating in it. If you don’t care for him or her, just say no to the friend request.
2- Just say no, again. Following the same logic as #1, I’d avoid doing a mass invite of people. Be particular about who you enter into this community with. You wouldn’t walk into a football stadium and give everyone your email address, personal photo album, and diary would you? Grown Men practice decorum and keep some mystery about them.
3- Be accountable. My biggest problem with social networking is that it makes wrecking a good relationship, even a marriage, easier than ever. Here’s what happens: You and your significant other are going through a rough patch (which will happen). You’re feeling hurt, she’s feeling lonely, neither of you are particularly excited about the other person. Now, she’s gone to bed and you check your email only to find that “[High School girlfriend who you lost contact with and remember as being one of the only people who understood me] has requested to be your friend.” Well now, doesn’t that feel nice? She says, “Hi,” you say, “It’s been a long time,” she says, “Too long,” you say, “We should remedy that.”
Do you see what happened? Your relational problems have lowered your defences and MyTwitFace (thank you, Conan) has provided a perfect opportunity to feel the attention and attraction you’re longing for. My friend, you are about to turn a rough spot in your committed relationship into and dark season with a person who, guess what!, is also not perfect and certainly flawed.
What I’m suggesting – no, begging – is that you give someone you trust your username and password. The reason is simple, we don’t do dumb stuff in front of other people as easily as we do it in secrecy. Which, parenthetically, is why being in a physical community where people can ask how you’re doing is a much better option for networking than interweb socialization. But, I’m not grumpy old guy, so I’m not going to say that. Anyhow, knowing that someone you trust is able to see your interactions will guard you from doing dumb stuff and allow you to enjoy your social networks in a responsible way.
You’re a Grown Man, mind your social networking.
Wow. This was not a funny post, was it? Well, I suppose it’s not always yucks and giggles on the road to Grown Manhood. But, because I fancy myself the jester of internet masculinity, I can’t end on such a Doug Downer note. To remedy that, I’ll leave you with this super special 4th rule:
4- Plant a garden. If you think playing Farmville is in any way an acceptable option for living your life as a Grown Man, you need to Apple-Q that junk right now and go outside. For real, Grown Men should have dirty hands at the end of the day — not fake cows getting loose. Your great-grandfather is rolling over in his grave.