Those of us at the older end of the baby boom have our frustrations with social media. You can hear our voices when you browse through Ask Ann or Carolyn Hax columns. We raise a litany of complaints about how our grown kids or grand kids are lost in their digital devices, using Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or whatever to express the most personal of emotions. (One constant annoyance raised by an army of letter writers: using email or a text message to thank us for a gift when, top our way of thinking, that should be done by pen-written word on a lovely sheet of writing paper. Dream On.)
We may find it astonishing when they share deeply personal losses with their followers or friends on various social media. The etiquette answers aren't all settled yet--and are unlikely to be settled in our favor. That's why I found this post on a blog by Nathan Bransford, a writer and former book agent [and soneone's grown child], helpful in putting things in perspective.
"Social media is a strange medium. You are staring at a computer or a mobile device when you post and tweet. By its very nature you are not engaging with another human. You are sending messages to an unknown number of recipients you can vaguely imagine but can't really identify.
The result of that communication can alternately feel like shouting into a quiet forest or a very loud, crowded room. And yet, because it's so public and so immediate, there are moments when tweets and Facebook posts can feel shockingly intimate.
The latter kind was on display when an NPR host live-tweeted his mother's death.
Some people might find his tweets unseemly and some commenters thought it trivialized the moment, but I think this kind of public experience of real life will increasingly be a part of our future. We're all living simultaneously public and private lives. And not just public and private, as in the case of writing a memoir, but instantaneously public and private. It's something entirely new.
I've remarked in a recent interview about how pleasantly moved I was by the outpouring of support after I announced my divorce. It didn't strike me as false or trivialized by the medium. It was real, even though it was coming through a computer.
Whatever it is, this is a completely new medium for experiencing life, one that is both distant and immediate, public and intimate, and mechanical and human."