Is Social Networking Making Us Socially Awkward?

***Yup. S. Nicole Brown is here again.***

I noticed it one day while walking from class.

Making my way across the  common area of campus on a beautiful sunny day, the sounds of the latest Top Forty blaring from a speaker behind a DJ booth asking people to sign up to volunteer for the next “save the world” project, I looked up from my phone, and looked around.

What I saw, kind of jolted me. Every single person that passed in this very busy area of campus, was looking down at their phone. I realized I had walked halfway across campus without one lifting my head up away from my phone, and noticed everyone doing the same. Watching people swarm around me in a rush to get home or to another class, I realized we had all so mastered the art of texting/tweeting/status-liking while doing other things, that we were on a sort of real time auto-pilot while our virtual lives kept our attention.

So of course, I took to twitter to state publicly my observation, and continued to walk with my head down, and on my phone.

From that day on I noticed more and more the absence of eye contact or basic human interaction when walking into stores, restaurants, on campus, at home. Everyone was seemingly more interested in tweeting and status updating about what they were doing, rather than enjoying the actual experience of what they were doing.

Still, I thought it was odd, but didn’t really realize just how dependent my generation and younger folks had become on social media interaction until I began meeting e-friends and associates in real life. Meeting someone in real life whom you only know online and believe to be super dope, is so exciting. You think about all the fun you’ll have when you finally meet, all the jokes you they’ve said that you’ll laugh at even harder in person.

And then you meet, and your entire image of them is shattered. They are quiet. Or uncomfortable, which makes you uncomfortable. Painfully shy, creepy, or just plain rude. You almost want to send them a direct message and ask if everything is okay with them, since they seem to have had the personality drained from them and you like their virtual one much better. A friend of mine went to a blogger meet up once, and described the behavior of several people as “lurking in real life.”

It’s a weird realization to come to that the very medium meant to foster social communication and connections, could be stunting us socially. More and more people seem far more comfortable to “poke” you or RT you than to call, or say hello to you on the street. People get keyboard courage and fire off statements that they wouldn’t dare say to those very same people away from their screen.

And as awkward as it is for me as a thirty year-old person to get over this, it’s so much worse for the teens and early twenty-somethings, who don’t know a social world beyond high school without smart phones and facebook and twitter. Those people that literally say “LOL” when they see something funny (my younger sister did this for an entire year until i threatened to end her life if she didn’t learn to laugh like a normal human), or think exchanging subtweets and nasty statuses is a way to solve an argument– while sitting in the same house (also witnessed this happen. With grown people no less). I feel so afraid for the youngins. So nervous that they will not know what it is to walk up to someone and say “hello,” or how to be somewhere longer than ten minutes without checking in on various social networks.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of social networking. I’ve met a good number of close friends from just being interactive online (including P to the Jay and Champness). But there needs to be balance. Social media makes it possible to spend an entire day talking without uttering one word. This to me, is scary. Nothing can replace the importance of being able to read body language, of knowing proper ways to interact in different social settings, having self-awareness, and the joy “friending” a stranger can bring through a surprisingly painless face-to-face conversation.

S. Nicole Brown (aka “Muze”) is a writer of fiction, lover of words, and chronic reader happily living the clichéd under-spaced and overpriced life of a NYC writer. You can find her in 140 or less @muzeness or on her blog, Because I’m Write.

***Check out “Yes, Monogamy IS Unnatural (…and so is everything else we do)” — The Champ’s latest at Ebony.com***

Social Networking Intraux Pas: Don’t Do This

Don't need no words.

While everybody here doesn’t live their entire life like its golden, quite a few spend hours camped out on the Internet. Some folks camp out here at VSB and other sites intended to inspire discussion. Others nestle down on sites that let you buy things you don’t need like that V-neck thong I saw some chick rocking here in DC a few weeks back. What is a V-neck thong?

It’s pretty much what happens when the tortoise and the hare start the race and a honeybadger comes through not caring AND not giving a sh*t.

Exactly. Point is a lot of us spend a lot of time online. And that means that many of us will begin to meet people online. Some folks use dating sites. I happened upon this article on CNN yesterday about called “Online dating? Why no one wants you” that listed a bunch of ways to turn somebody off by the initial message you sent to somebody via a dating site. To wit:

1). The generalizer

Example: hey, wuts up?

Why no one wants you: You’re probably stupid. Or possibly illiterate. What’s going on with you? Something cool? OK, tell him/her about that, instead. Nothing at all? Go out and cultivate a hobby of some sort, and then get back to us.

Guffaw.

That article got my wheels turning. The big wheels kept on turning. Then we were rolling. Rolling. True story, I’ve met a significant number of individuals online. And nearly all of them because they’ve tracked down my AIM and well, AIM’d me. Some successfully, some unsuccessfuly. I’m guessing this is a story many of us can relate to. Especially since so many people have become interested in meeting the very people they follow on Twitter or in comments sections of websites. Either way, much like the first impression dating site intro, I’m sure people have spent significant amounts of time looking like idiots with the random social network connect. So I figured I’d share some similar, but specific ways folks f*ck up that entire potential. Basically the kind of people that don’t get contacted back.

And by the way, some of these will be actual examples of connections gone wrong, perhaps we can call them AT&T ninjas. Bong Bong.

1. “Hi!”

In today’s day and age of baby theft and gorillas taking over the planets, you’ve got to show up with more in your initial greeting than a “hi!” homey. I’m bound to assume that you’re some sort of hi-bot sent to infiltrate my computer system and if I respond back with anything I’ll inadvertently send out some sort of supervirus that will expose all of the hidden children and wives. Plus since I don’t really f*ck with Southwest Airlines like that (I’m more NWA), I won’t feel free to move about the country. I don’t like Snickers either. So I’m mad short. Skeelo.

2. “yo, i read vsb. dm me.”

Yo, me too. I read that sh*t. Can I ask a serious question, what in blue blazes would make anybody think that would be a good way to get me, Panama Dontavious Jackson, to want to talk to you? No dis or anything but that’s retarded. Can’t lie, I tried that sh*t on Rihanna. I @’d her that “I liked S&M. DM me” No response. Perhaps I should have thrown Chris Brown under the bus or something but I kind of feel like you can only try once. Oh well. Chris Brown stays winning anyway, I would have felt dirty. Beautiful people.

3. “You don’t know me but I love your site. I go there everyday. Slim Jackson is my favorite writer.”

Slim if you’re reading. You’ve got a fan out there who thinks you write for VSB. Pretty sure it’s the whole Jackson thing. And this one actually happened. I responded back with “wrong group of reading n*ggas, but thanks for supporting Blackness.” By the way, I’m sure this young lady was lovely but in one fell swoop she proved that she doesn’t read OR pay attention. Womp womp womp.

4. “I think I just saw Panama Jackson at XXX’s.”

This has nothign to do with anything, but let me tell you something, that sh*t is scaaaaaaaaaary. Mostly because it never happens at the club. I’ll be at a specific CVS and my phone will buzz and I’ll see that “404-04″ that I’ve changed to read “Twitter, B*tch” in my phone and “Just saw @panamajackson buying some Charmin Ultrasoft, but wasn’t sure if it was him so I didn’t want to stab the wrong person. Hi @panamajackson!”

For the record, people, people, people, if you do see me out, holla at me. That takes the edge off. I won’t bite you. Unless we ever make it to 2nd base. Or is that 3rd base? I can’t remember.

Bong bong.

5. “Do you want some nude pics?”

My bad, that one is the winner.

Anyway, it’s Friday. Let’s enlighten the masses. What are the most obnoxious and ridiculous ways people can turn you off trying to contact you via social networking? Let’s help the children.

Atari 2600.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka TANGLE JIG P aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

PS Sending extra special prayers and wishing everybody on the East Coast under the threat of Hurricane Irene best of luck this weekend as we all hope that the storm doesn’t negatively impact the lives of too many. I need EVERYBODY to show up on Monday talking about surviving the hurricane. Everybody, dammit. Real talk…be safe people.

Dating Game: Remember, You Don’t Know Me

It's really important to see that family photo album. Um, RIP.

In today’s day and age of social networking, Google, and the county courthouse, information about nearly anybody is nothing more than a click away. Or a quick drive and $25. Point is, it’s all out there for public consumption. As soon as you meet somebody you can find out as much as humanly possible about them and their propensity to murder somebody or procreate with reckless abandon. It’s truly amazing, actually, just how much information is available and how much of it is provided by the person you’re searching for in the first place.

One random glance of Shaqondroniesha Tanqueray Shropshire’s Facebook profile will tell you just how she feels about haters, hatin’ arse b*tches and conversely her favorite Bible verse. As if.

(Is it me or are “hood” people the most aggressively violent AND religious people on the planet?)

Oh, and by the way, the most popular Bible verse for our hood brothas and sisters?

“Only God can judge me.”

Good luck finding THAT specific verse.

But the truth is, with so much information out there, we only know the surface level things about people. All the social networking information in the world won’t tell you intimate details about a person. As I’ve come to learn in life, it seems that so many people are dating people that they really don’t know. And I’m not different. I’ve been down that road where after the fact I realized that I didn’t fully know the person I was dealing with. And given the way we tend to interact nowadays, electronically, intimacy is just a clusterf*ck of text messages and emails. With that said, you don’t know somebody OR the person you’re dating if any of the following haven’t occurred:

1. Seen their handwriting

Nearly all of communication nowadays consists of text messages, Twitter, Facebook messages, email, etc. Shucks, you can probably go an entire lifetime without ever seeing somebody’s handwriting. But the truth is, a person’s handwriting tells you so much about them. Did they go to prison? I don’t know, but I’ll bet some expert who has been on Oprah can tell you thru their handwriting. Do they dot their “i’s” with smiley faces or hearts? Who knows. Certainly not you. If you haven’t seen their writing, that means you haven’t received a card and how close can you really be to somebody whose never sent you a card. Not very that’s how (close).

2. Seen how they handle adversity

Real. Talk. You truly do not know somebody and how compatible you are with them until you’ve all been forced into a situation full of adversity. How a person deals with stress and troubling situations tells you a whole lot about how they will deal with you in the event that the sh*t ever hits the fan. You may find out that you are an arsehole when dealing with somebody else’s stresses or vice versa. When times are good everybody gets along, but what happens when times aren’t so hot. This might be the most important thing to ever know about somebody. Real. Talk.

3. Seen actual physical copies of their pictures

Everybody sends picture texts and takes pictures with their phones and digital cameras nowadays. When was the last time you actually held a 3×5 in your hand? Do you even remember what the paper feels like? Digital pictures only got uberpopular, say, five years ago or so. Folks entire lives were captured and developed prior to that. If you’ve never seen a physical picture of your significant other when they were thirteen wearing a Starter jacket, overalls, and a hooded tshirt, how can you really know them? As B-Real teaches us on “How I Could Just Kill A Man”, “…how do you know where I’m at, when you haven’t been where I’ve been?/Understand where I’m coming from?…”

Yes, B-Real, I do understand.

In that same vein…

4. Met some of their oldest friends

Kind of self-explanatory, but a lot of us got brand new when we started reading and whatnot. A lot of folks reinvented themselves in college, but you want to know who a person really is, you need to have a brief convo with the folks that grew up with them. You’ll never know that their nickname used to be “Drip” unless you do.

5. Know where they stand on BET’s current place in pop culture

Eh, why not?

Is there anything else that we should be looking out for to determine whether or not we really know somebody?

And by the way?

#blackandyellow

Congrats, Champ.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka I’M BACK, KOTTER aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

link of the week: its too big, its too wide…

kanye-west-8-15-07as you all probably know by now, i’m the sh*t.

don’t be mad at me, though. i can’t help it, and even if i could, i probably wouldn’t. it seems like it’d be too time-consuming

still, while being the sh*t has its obvious perks and bonuses (ie: free chicken from starbucks and the inherent ability to switch stations back the exact moment the commercial is over), i’m actually a bit over my sh*ttyness now because apparently everyone else thinks they’re the sh*t too. bummer

between our blogs, twitters, facebook accounts, smart phones, ironic pseudonyms, unironic tattoos, concentrated tastes, and highly specialized professional skill-sets, we have enough collective self-importance to fill aretha’s bras.

download narc dvd

while extensive ego-stroking is undoubtedly fun and surprisingly practical (i’ve become quite adept at one-handed typing), hannah seligson’s “do narcissists have better sex” presents evidence that this me-me-me mindset is ruining relationships: Continue reading