Yesterday at the Vermont Marble Museum, I spent a while chatting with the artist-in-residence about Facebook.
He kind of liked it, but was also deeply skeptical of it. Among other things, if I understood him right (which I may not have), he was concerned about the trivialization of discourse that he felt it promoted. (I didn't tell him about Twitter.) He wanted to Converse with people about Important Topics, and I think he felt that Facebook made it harder to do so because all anyone wanted to post about is what they had for breakfast.
I have a bunch of responses to that, including “it depends on your social group” and “Facebook may not be for you.” But my main response, and the one I think he found most useful, was that we as a society are still experimenting with various ways to translate our desire for social interaction into the digital realm. (Yeah, some of us have had 25 years to practice that, but new tech-enabled modes of interaction are coming along all the time.)
There are, of course, plenty of other responses. I'm posting this entry not to provoke defensive reactions among FB and Twitter users, but because just now, I came across something that provides me with another response:
People writing little mundane details of their lives in public spaces is not new.
In particular, I just came across this bit of graffiti from Pompeii:
On April 19th, I made bread.
In other words, to the extent that Facebook and Twitter enable people to post the brief mundane details of their lives publicly, they're following in a tradition at least 2,000 years old.