Owen Strachan wrote a response to my article, “A Theology of Twitter.” Then I commented on that post. Then he blogged in response to that comment.
Owen seems stuck on one thing in particular. Need.
He wonders why a reader needs to know he drank a hot chocolate or had a beef melt for breakfast or had messy poops after. The presumption, of course, is that anyone believes anyone needs to know any of this stuff.
People who know Owen might like to know these things (as All information about a subject serves to inform one’s understanding of and relationship to the subject), but they certainly don’t need to know these things any more than anyone needs to know Owen. I mean look at me. I don’t know Owen any more than what I know what he ate this morning and I’m doing alright.
So… to nobody is Need any part of the status update equation.
Status updates can be used as variously as anything. Some use the updates to keep family and friends abreast of important parts of their lives. Some use the updates to keep the interested in the know regarding scheduling et cetera. Some make smalltalk. I have a friend who solely uses the status update to incorporate himself into obscure song lyrics. Personally I use the updates largely to amuse a small contingent of my Facebook friends who will appreciate the particular brand of humour I employ.
But to the point of the kind of statuses that Owen finds so troubling…
Relationships are rarely built solely upon the shoulders of conversations that quote-unquote matter. My best and closest friendships are founded on lives lived together—and we would have particularly tepid lives if we hesitated to let the other know: “Dude! I had the best chorizo burrito this morning!” or “I just got back from seeing Before Sunset and it’s everything I could want from a sequel!” or “I have the sniffles.” That stuff right there is the grist of friendships. The heady, quote-unquote worthwhile conversations—the stuff that doesn’t just take up time—may direct relationships but if that’s all there is, you aren’t friends. Just colleagues.
That’s why I don’t mind seeing otherwise superfluous details related in status updates. If I’m reading a good friend and they say, “Just had hot chocolate,” I am in a way taking part in their experience because I can picture them having it and can enjoy the fact that they have just experienced something enjoyable. If I’m reading someone I barely know and they say they just petted a cat, that means nothing to me so I skip it (why would I spend time to read the status updates of someone I barely know is something beyond me).
Yet even the updates of people I barely know can build on relationship through means of Shared Interest. The other day, I read that Noble Alan was planning to play Fallout 3 a little while later. Shared interest encouraged a feeling of relationship that would not have existed otherwise. Not a huge feeling of relationship, but still, the baby steps toward camaraderie through which actual friendship is encountered.
This was long, so in summary: Owen was wrong. But you knew that was coming.
The Danes last blog post..20081119.ChurchLies
Though I do agree with Owen that there are many things to which we devote more time than we ought, I think that you are exactly right, Dane. Too large a portion of relationship is seemingly meaningless “asides” to argue that there is no place in our lives for a computer program that encourages meaningless asides.
Ben Bartletts last blog post..A Song and a Blessing