31 March 2010
Ever since the early days of Friendster, I’ve had to apologetically turn down invitation after invitation to join a variety of social networks. I’ve smiled politely and demurred when people have inquired as to whether I blogged. There was something terrifying about the prospect of living my life out in a public forum, of having my professional and personal worlds collide, of Being Found. And for the most part, I’ve managed to fly under the radar, cloaked by other Mimi Chuns out there in the world, a few of whom appear to also be designers. There’s a catacomb’s worth of skeletons in my closet—too many people I’ve lost touch with by way of disagreements, negligence, or simply the passage of time. Anonymity has always been the elusive ideal.
Throughout the years, as various forms of social media have continued to proliferate around me, my perspective expanded to include the theory:
There’s Life. And then there’s blogging, tweeting, chatting, and updating your status about Life. They are not one and the same.
Finding the time to focus is quickly becoming a luxury, and truthfully, I savor every minute I have to myself. I recently stumbled across a surprising statistic: on average, we encounter distractions every 11 minutes, and that once we veer off course, it takes approximately 25 minutes to recover and return to our original task. A recent conversation with a friend revealed that her boyfriend’s perception of what can be accomplished in an hour factors in the time it takes for him to review and respond to emails, IMs, and Facebook rumblings in real time.
But at the same time, I’ve always been the type to finish a book even if I hated it by the third paragraph, simply because I can’t justify my hatred until I’ve done my due diligence and read every word. In some instances, I’ve reluctantly buried my head in said book, only to emerge frustrated, wondering how I could possibly recover all that wasted time. And in other instances, I’ve been surprised—sometimes one paragraph more is all it takes to for me to realize, Hey, maybe this isn’t so bad.
As added incentive, I increasingly face my own hypocrisy on a daily basis at work, where we’re frequently asked to consider how social media can and should impact user experiences across a range of industries. I’ve conducted covert (and admittedly superficial) investigations of social networking services simply to gain a baseline understanding of how they function and what their broader implications are for how people are connecting with one another and with the world at large.
Which brings us to today. I’ve decided that, for the month of April, I’m going to withhold judgment by throwing myself in the deep end—by voraciously blogging, joining Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Delicious, and LinkedIn. At the end of the month, I plan to evaluate if and how Life (and by Life, I mean the one that occurs offline) has changed and whether it’s for the better or worse. I may discover after 30 days that I’ve created a long-winded, digital homage to On Kawara, forever frozen in time, or I may decide that this endeavor has expanded and enriched my life in heretofore unforeseen ways. The truth shall reveal itself.
Consider my social media cherry popped.