JOINING THE BORG
Sara Paretsky, best-selling crime novelist whose fictional private investigator V.I Warshawski has made it to the movie screen, recently gave an interview to AARP Magazine (March/ April 2011). In it she said, “I’m on Facebook and Twitter because my publishers insist, but social media are just huge time suckers.” I confess her words struck a chord in my heart when I read them. I had been dragged kicking and screaming into the social network for the same reason. As a writer, I was told I had to show a human face. But unlike Paretsky, most of my readers are friends and they already know my face, human or otherwise. If they had something to say about my work, they could always e-mail me.
(Borg Queen from “Star Trek”)
I sank into my extended network with the wariness of a person who sinks into a warm mud bath for the first time: “Once I get into this thing, will I be able to get out?” My comments to my “friends” on the media pages were tentative. Some people I knew but others seemed to have appeared like grapes in a bunch — having befriended one, I befriended all. What had I to say to them, these complete strangers?
Time, it seems, took care of my concern. As I began to read the trail of comments preserved on my computer and share the experiences of others, I started to take an interest in the lives of these people. Much of what my new friends wrote was ordinary — a first grandchild, for example, or a trip to the veterinarian with a pet. Still, I detected in these notes much joy, even an occasional irrational exuberance. Who would be hardhearted enough not to smile at images of a newborn infant? But sometimes fear was expressed, too, worry over an impending surgery, perhaps. Then one day, the ordeal was over. I learned an old life had been renewed. Who would fail to rejoice at this success?
Having joined the hive, I’ve reaped many benefits. I’ve discovered some entertaining videos, read uplifting quotes and been made aware of deserving causes. I have adjusted to my bunch, having learned to think less about myself and more about them. In sum, a new universe has opened to me filled with stories that fascinate. There’s no turning back to my old, insular ways now. I’ve discovered that “resistance is futile.”