Normally my posts are photographs, however, more than one of the posts for the Daily Post Photo Challenge this week included the song “Sounds of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel. That got me thinking about social media.
When I heard the words “people talking without speaking, people hearing without listening” my mind was filled with an image of a room full of people looking at their cell phones. Last Sunday’s newspaper mentioned “phubbing” which is snubbing the person you are with by paying attention to your cell phone instead of them.
It has existed way longer than the current smart phone craze. People answering the phone in the middle of a conversation has gone on since phones were invented. When calls were rare and most people only made them for something important that made some sense. Now most calls are telemarketers and more than three quarters of the bleeps and buzzes mean someone posted a twit or shared a cute cat video (Don’t get me wrong: I like cute cats, although my own Empress is more elegant than cute).
I never developed the habit of talking for a long time on the phone. When I was a kid we had a party line and we weren’t allowed to just chit chat. By the time I was a teen we had a private line, but we moved to a place where I didn’t know anyone to talk to when I was 14. In those days the long distance phone rates were high so I couldn’t talk to my old friends, we wrote letters and sent them in the mail. I still have some of them. Communication was more special, it took more effort and you could save it. Even though one can save email will we? when the next technology comes out will you convert? I doubt I will. I don’t even download most of my email anymore.
The other part of the song that made me think about the internet was “the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls, and tenement halls, and whispered in the sounds of silence”. What are Twitter and Facebook? Seems like they might be today’s subway walls and tenement halls.
I ask this because we have had hostile foreign powers controlling what people see as “the words of the prophets”. But those walls are also covered with cute cat videos and memes.
I was never the Facebook-iest person, but wound up silenced earlier this year. It is a venue for people to talk about their trip to Hawaii, their child’s beautiful wedding, cute pet stuff, etc. A place to share the good life.
Social media isn’t the place for you when what is going on in your life is an elderly relative falling, having to confront that person about not being able to go back into an apartment, clearing out the apartment and dealing with the angst and depression that go with it, and the semi-infinite challenges of government paperwork so that person doesn’t wind up on the street. It’s not that my life isn’t good, but it’s complicated, and intricate, nuanced communication is not what Facebook is about.
It is also a venue for outrage. The Russian, and other, trolls are doing a lot with this. I’m as outraged as any, perhaps more than many who are more vocal, but social media isn’t the place for this, no discussion, no resolution. Cute memes are just that, they might, briefly, relieve feelings but are not wisdom or balanced discourse. You might say that in some ways they are just another form of silence.
Alas: I have no answers, just questions. But it doesn’t matter, looking back I’ll be able to say “my words like silent raindrops fell, and echoed in the wells of silence.”
I know I should wordsmith this post more, but I don’t want to be tardy with this post. It was mostly inspired by the “Silence” daily post photo prompt but this isn’t a photograph. My response to the photo prompt is A Pall Hung Over Us.