Not much more than a couple of years ago I discovered the joys of social media. Facebook, Twitter and a host of other social networking sites became my link to the world outside my study. I read blogs and participated in discussion but I have recently found this dissatisfying. To the point where I have been asking myself the eternal question. Why is it so?At first I thought it was because we grew apart. "It's not you, it's me." I said to my computer, not wanting to hurts its feelings but the more I thought about it, the more I realised that the demise of my relationship with the avatarred masses was not just me. The very nature of social media has changed and, in my opinion, it is not unlike being trapped in a loveless relationship. At first it was exploratory. Everything was exciting and new. We were open and sharing information about each other. I found out about the single mothers and their lives, I learned about students and scholars both in China and around the world. I watch as journalists became social media evangelists and heavy metal guitarists become web entrepreneurs. We held hands, we shared experiences and took long leisurely strolls along moonlit beaches and listens to the waves crash against the rocks as the cool ocean breeze blew past our semi-naked bodies like long endless scarves of silk. We met whenever we could, via my browser, via Twhirl, via Orsiso, via Tweetdeck with each new upgrade getting easier to use and more intuitive. In the meantime, SNS's became mainstream. Celebrities, politicians, media groups, even Presidents and Princesses joined in this wonderful new world of connectivity. But as time went on, we not only grew up but we grew apart. More distant. You no longer told me what you loved, what you felt, what you had for lunch. You just told me the news. Our conversations ceased to be personal and intimate but have become about what is in the newspaper. We used to snuggle up in bed all day and just chat about whatever was on our mind whilst looking deeply into each others eyes. Now we just talk about the weather, the latest cause, the plight of bonusless investment bankers. It has reached the point where I might as well just pick up a newspaper or download the FT app on my iPad because there is nothing social about social networks.
I don't need you to keep in touch with my real friends, I have their email addresses and phone numbers. I don't need a relationship with CNN, I can just turn on the TV. The reason I need you is to have faux friendships with perfect strangers and to have intellectual relationships with people from different walks of life. So I am giving this relationship another chance, because I believe in commitment, but for this relationship to work we must open up. Tell me what you really feel, not just what is fit to print. I want to know you and in return, I will let you know me. I will tell you my deepest darkest fears and in the end we will all be better for it because we will learn again that we are not that unalike.