SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Live, From The Egosphere!


November 09, 2009
Monday PM

Ketchikan, Alaska - I have been on Facebook for a few weeks now.

jpg Dave Kiffer

Dave Kiffer

I kinda felt trapped into it because I had several friends in far away (read: sunny and dry) places who basically said "get on Facebook or we will never communicate with you again."

I don't usually respond to threats, but I do like to stay in touch so I figured I could make one concession to the "social networking" world.

Still, the whole idea that we should have this great big group of "friends" out there who would be satisfied with occasional random blips about what we were making for dinner or whether we really, really liked some You Tube video seemed (and still seems) a little odd to me.

I mean, do other people, really care that much about the minutia that is rattling around in our brains at any given posting moment.?

Naturally, my brain - which deals in a higher quality of minutia than most people, if I do say so myself - replied "of course they do, because you are good enough, you are smart enough and doggone it, people like you.!"

Kinda scary that the guy thought that up is a United States Senator. But, as usual, I digress.

Anyway, to my surprise, through Facebook, I have heard from a whole bunch of folks who I never thought I'd ever hear from again. I have been brought back up to speed and back in - after a fashion - to their lives.

This is a good thing, because I do like to keep up with all the details in other folks lives.

Growing up in Ketchikan, I have always trafficked in the use of social information.

It has always been helpful to know who is (or was) married to whom, who is related to whom, and who has a grudge with whom. If only because it helps me avoid saying the wrong thing to either "who" or "whom" at a social occasion.

Notice I said help avoid not prevent. I still say the wrong thing now and again. I never make the same social faux pas twice, but there are a million of them that I have made once.

I get my interest in information from my Grandmother Gladys who was the grand doyenne of the North Point Higgin/Clover Pass/Knudsen Cove social scene.

I used to think that my Grandmother was the smartest person in the world because she always seemed to know who was doing what and to whom and when..

Later, I learned that Gram used to spend hours a day listening in on the single party line in the area and that was where she learned about who and whom and how often..

Regardless of the source, though, it still was - and remains - valuable information.

Another good source of "public" information for us waterborne folks when I was growing up was the marine operator.

We didn't have satellite dishes on our boats in those days, but you could tune into the marine operator in the evening and hear all sorts of soap operas because, after a while, people using the marine operator would forget that other people were listening.

You heard all about stomach operations, you heard catfights, you even heard conversations between separated couples that you probably wish you hadn't heard.

Yet, it was like watching a train wreck. You couldn't - and really didn't want to - turn away!

Some I suppose would call trafficking in that sort of information "gossip" and they are right. But, oh what delicious gossip it was, and people - like my Grandmother - were expert at storing up that information until the time was right to use it.

In those days, people were always surprised that someone had learned and then passed on some trenchant personal detail from supposedly "private" conversation. They were shocked and hurt and all those bad things.

Today, though, it seems, the idea is to fire a pre-emptive first strike and put all those gory details out in advance. The idea being that you can't hurt me, if I hurt myself first. That way you control the flow of information by turning it into a self-induced torrent.

And that's why we have a new "sphere" out there. The "Egosphere."

It truly can be all about you, 24-7.

And the scary thing is, other people are actually watching you. They are enjoying your train wreck.

Some of my "friends," for example, have posted some slightly salacious pictures (I need to have different friends if I want the real nasty stuff, I guess). Other have passed along details of gory operations and medical procedures (shades of the marine operator).

Some have engaged in nasty catfights that really should have been limited to hissing and spitting contests on the Dock Street sidewalk.

And yes, I have learned some things about peoples' marital habits that I would rather not have learned. Not necessarily from the initial posts, but from responses their friends leave.

It's sort of like sussing out what sort of a person someone is by reading what their friends wrote when they signed the person's yearbook. ("Don't get arrested this summer. Don't get knocked up. Don't do anything I wouldn't do, yuk, yuk, yuk.")

And this - and much, much more - is basically out there for everyone to see. Even though the profiles and other information is supposed to be "private."

A few years back, I had a potential employer call me about a former music student who had used me as a reference. She was a good girl, by all accounts, but he was worried that her social networking site - I can't remember if it was Facebook or My Space - had a lot of info about her liking to "party."

Yes, and there was also a picture of her posing, possibly naked , behind a remarkably large salmon.

Fortunately, my Facebook postings as of yet have been limited to my posting snaky responses to the postings of my "friends."

I have yet to discuss what I had for supper.

I have yet to post a cool You Tube video.

I have yet to discuss any relevant medical procedures.

And I have yet to pose naked behind a remarkably large salmon.

I am only dabbling in the Egosphere.

I can control my urge to overshare.

I think.

And aren't you glad I told you all this?


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Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
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