It must be the Rain Man in me who needs to categorize and document all of my books and music into charts, lists, and grids, so that I can examine them periodically and hope that someone out there will find it comforting or impressive that I can jump from The Clash to M. Ward to Ciara within a ten minute span, or that an eyebrow may be raised in admiration because I have a copy of Guerrilla Warfare sitting next to Peace Is Every Step. It must me some human need to bring order to chaos, because I am pretty sure the conspiracy theorist and social activist in me has, at one point, surely said something along the lines of, “The Patriot Act can look into your library activity and see which books you have been reading, or they can look through your emails and monitor who you have been talking to and what you have been buying.” Here I am making lists and publishing them on the Internet for them.
What the hell I am talking about? Let me explain. I have recently found two sites that I am really excited about: Last Fm and Library Thing. If you look at the bottom of the my sidebar you will see two, what I think are very aesthetically pleasing, grids of my book collection and the music I am listening to right this very second. (Turn on Me off the new Shins record.)
These sites are social networking tools that help people connect based on their interests in music and books- the two most important things in my life. However, as I was inputting every single book I own into Library Thing, a few questions crossed my mind, the most obvious one being: Why the hell am I doing this? Social networking sites seem to me to be designed for people without any friends or people dating. Why would I, a married man with a list of friends I have a hard time keeping in touch with, want to “meet” anyone new?
I think sites like this exploit the human need to connect. They act platforms where we can display ourselves to a global audience and hope that we are not alone. They reconfirm our beliefs that there are other people out there similar to us. Coupled with blogs these sites act as first dates, job interviews, or the budding of new friendships, but without the awkward bullshit that comes from small talk.
I hate small talk. As soon as I meet someone new the first things I want to talk to them about are what they listen to, what they read, what they watch, and how they express themselves artistically. I can glean everything about a person I need to know by what they read, listen to, and watch. (I have yet to find a good site for films. Let me know if you know of one.) I cannot relate to people who are not obsessive readers, who don’t appreciate music on a life and death level, or who watch movies just to be entertained. The beauty of these sites, and I would like to add Flickr to the list is that they weed out a lot of people I have nothing in common with, and they show me people out there who have similar tastes as me in the things I find the most important in my life. But who cares if I emailed some girl in San Francisco last night because we were the only two people on Library Thing who have read Revolutionary Rehearsals and shared 25 other books just to say hello. Does it matter that I can find five other people who have listened to the song Four Winds off the new Bright Eyes CD, ten times last week? Or that some 23 year old in Stockholm is helping me find tickets for a festival I may attend in June.
Away from the computer, I am an anti-social animal, but imagine if I do go to this festival, and I meet up with this person just to say hi, because she has been reading my blog and likes what I have to say about insert topic, or maybe this summer in New York I may meet up with betmo and share a cuppa and talk about the Kucinich campaign, because we have been reading each others work for over a year. I am not saying any of this will happen, but I like the idea that it could. The Internet is changing so much that we are now truly all connected. We are literally linking together.
So if you happen to run across my little spot in the universe, here I am. Take a look at my books, my music, my photos and if you like what you see stop and say hello. Peace starts with understanding others, and while I may be more that what I listen to and what I read, that is a pretty good place to start. If you are a reader of this blog start your own Last Fm, Library Thing, or Flickr page and let’s get to know each other better. And if you are an old friend, this would be a great way to see how we have changed or grown closer or further apart.
The Rain Man in me wants to share my author cloud, find a connection: