Sunday, June 28, 2009

Public Privacy

I really like social media. Given the limitations on my social life that are inherent in single mom-hood (i.e. most evening-type hanging out has to be done at my house), sometimes online is the best way to get any friend-time in.

Is it sometimes shallow? Sure. But so are the non-online conversations I have with friends, too. I mean, IRL I like talking philosophy and literary theory and queer politics and everything, but I also like talking about how much I don't get the show Wipeout or what color socks I wear.

The bad thing about social media, as far as I can tell, is that everything is documented, and things that would be past and gone in a conversation are visible for potentially ever. And, unfortunately, people act as if their online interactions are private conversations--responding without thinking--when it's actually more like shouting in a really big room full of people.

Case in point: Alice Hoffman, a well-known writer, went kind of nuts on Twitter when she got a bad review. All of the things she's saying are perfectly reasonable things to think and feel and talk about with friends, but it's like she's forgotten that she's saying them in public. Or, if she hasn't, this way of addressing of the issues strikes me as kind of passive aggressive. Why not write an op ed? Or issue a statement through her publicist? Or write an open letter to the reviewer?

As it is, she comes off as petty and nasty and unprofessional, because what she's having trouble with is a *professional* relationship: she writes books and people read and review them. She might as well be angry with the mail carrier for bringing the mail.

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