Editor’s Column: Caught in Connections



Jaime Coyne

Sometimes I like to be disconnected. I get excited for the week I spend on the beach each summer, knowing that I’ll have a whole week away from the Internet. I’m glad that I don’t have a data plan on my cell phone, because it means that I have to spend at least a little time each day away from my e-mail.

But I need those factors forcing me to be disconnected because, relieved as I am to get away from the Internet for a while, I’m also completely addicted to it. I scan through my Facebook newsfeed every morning, and then keep the tab open on the browser for the rest of the day, so that I can turn to it in moments of boredom or procrastination. My email is always open, and I’m a bit OCD about needing to open every email I get. It stresses me out to see thousands of unread emails in other people’s inboxes. And I’ve gone through periods of addiction to other things on the Internet, like certain games that, even at the time, I was embarrassed to admit I played.

So my reaction to hearing about other websites that I should check out is that I don’t need to go looking for more sites on the Internet to add to my addiction. One social networking site that I’ve been hearing more and more about over the past few years is Twitter. I’d never been the least bit tempted to join Twitter. It sounded like it was full of the kind of Facebook statuses that I hate: “Shoveling the driveway, then off to work!” And I don’t have much interest in “following” celebrities.

But over the past few months, as I’ve begun seriously looking into my future after Col­gate, Twitter and other websites have continually been presented to me as communities that would provide me with valuable skills in the eyes of the modern employer. After Real World emphasized this same thing, I gave in. In a big way.

That same weekend I joined Twitter and LinkedIn. A week later, I started a blog, which was recommended to me because of my interest in writing and editing.

LinkedIn is a very different kind of network than Facebook or Twitter, and I don’t think I’ll really start utilizing it until I’m searching for a job. I can update my blog as frequently or infrequently as I want. But I still worried that by joining Twitter I would get sucked into another Facebook.

In a way, my fears have come true: I like Twitter. I’m mostly following news sources, so adding Twitter to my morning routine has actually made me more informed than I would be otherwise.

But I don’t feel the kind of addiction to it that I do with Facebook, which I find myself going back to several times in the course of a day – at least not yet.

The Internet and social networking sites are rapidly becoming a necessary evil. I judge my­self a little for immediately responding to an email but, at the same time, to not respond in a timely manner would be irresponsible in this day and age. The more connected we can be, the more connected we are expected to be.

And the more social networking options there are on the Internet, the more those sites become a part of the world of business.

To remain unacquainted with those sites could put a person at a disadvantage when applying for a job in many fields today.

So, as much as I might not have wanted to give in to my urge to explore the innumerable options out there in the World Wide Web, I think I’ve given in to the inevitable. And while joining Twitter is certainly not helping me get any more work done, in the long run it might be valuable to be able to say “Yes, I tweet.”