If you didn’t ever read the original “Little Women,” by Louisa May Alcott, you may not understand the title reference. If you did, you will probably understand why I identified so strongly with Jo–and I think she was the one Ms. Alcott identified with best, as well. Jo’s struggles to write, to make her way in the world as an independent person, appealed to a little girl who wanted to be a writer, even when I didn’t understand many of the timebound references used in the book.
When I checked out the book years later from the library to re-read, I realized the copy I had read to tatters as a child was bowdlerized. It had been stripped of any reference (spoiler alert!) to the death of Jo’s little sister, Beth. Some well-meaning adult had decided that little children didn’t need to be exposed to tragedy, I guess. That kind of glossing over anything real feels like what’s happening on so much of the social networks.
I think that human communication will win out, in the end. I’m not saying Facebook is the devil, or evil, or even that it’s more than a blip. I’m saying that human beings need human touch, as well as the rest of the gamut of human communication. I loved being able to skype with my kids when I know it’s going to be months until I see them again… but ultimately, it is unsettling and unsatisfying. And I think that is simply because it’s incomplete.
But, because non-personal communication IS complete without touch, I think that Twitter and Facebook and the rest of the digital communication spectrum will eventually become, like television, media oriented toward storytelling to sell something. Might be a subscription (like the movie channels), might be a product (like every other channel, including public broadcasting), but it will be to sell something, not to further human-to-human communication. Eventually.
In the meantime, I accept that what I’m hearing is what people want me to hear–which is OK, that’s what I post, as well. My marriage, my relationships, heck, what I ate for dinner, is my business.