Let them eat Tweets

I thought Liz Smith was on to something when I blogged back in March about her prediction that "We're going to have the Internet even when we don't have things to eat." But who knew than an off-hand comment from an octogenarian New Yorker would come to bear so quickly right here in San Francisco?

This past weekend's Wall Street Journal reported on the growing number of homeless people with Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and email addresses. According to the paper, "In America today, even people without street addresses feel compelled to have Internet addresses."

It seems absurd at first, but is it really?

Think about the increasing numbers of people who devote hours to networking on LinkedIn while unemployed. Or those of us who can easily go weeks without speaking to family and longtime friends, but regularly spend hours keeping up with strangers' blogs or "interacting" with Facebook friends and Twitter followers-- many of whom we've only met in real life once or twice.  Are we all really any different than the homeless people staking their claims on the Web?

I know the Internet can be exciting and beneficial-- I mean, I'm here, aren't I?-- but I try to be wary of the allure of "social media" and its rapid rise in popularity. There's something of the placebo effect in it all-- and I think it's important to be vigilant about what we're neglecting or sacrificing in the real world as we're busy cultivating our online "lives."
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