June 7, 2011
Many years ago, when I lived in a charming New England city, a relief organization asked me to help acclimate a refugee family from Eastern Europe that they were sponsoring. This meant "showing them the ropes," from how to pay bills to what the kids wore to school. The greatest shock came during our first foray to a supermarket. They were astounded not only by the bounty, but by the number of competing products: cereal, juices, cookies, detergents.
Forever after, I've tried to look at situations and institutions, like Twitter, through fresh eyes.
Remember Robin Williams as "Mork from Ork?"
I'm trying to apply this concept to the recent debacles that brought down men in government. Much has been made of how men get away with sexual harrassment in France -- so what's the big deal about a contender for the French presidency allegedly attacking a chambermaid in a foreign country?
Now yet another American holding high office has been caught without even the lame excuses offered for Strauss-Kahn's unproven bad behavior. This time, Twitter made him do it, or at least gave Congressman Anthony Weiner the opportunity to show his true colors, which aren't the idealized red, white and blue.
But blaming Twitter is just as lame.
I might have a hard time explaning social networks to Mork although, fast-forwarded to now, the Romanian family would certainly be familiar with the concept, if not the pitfalls. I even have trouble explaining the phenomena to myself -- an educated, emancipated, tolerant, reasonably tech-savvy senior woman and confessed media junkie.
This backlash from mature thinkers is misinterpreted by the mainstream as being afraid to try. I'm not afraid. I grant social media has been invaluable during recent catastrophies. I even signed up for Facebook a while back, then decided not to use the page after hearing how these activities become addictive. Maybe I don't feel important enough to broadcast my life. Maybe email and free long distance ( now that's progress) are sufficient opportunities for contact. Maybe I just want friends, not "friends."
But, I'll admit, I have a better opinion of social media after Weiner's tearful mea culpa. Twitter and Facebook have been invaluabe to politicians, helping them spread the word. This time, Twitter unknowingly flushed out a bad boy before he did further harm.
As the wise old saying goes: live by the sword, die by the sword .