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Reed Garnett
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Lately I've been sorta interested in social networks - specifically the things about them relevant to the question of, 'why don't I use them?'

Actually, when I say that I'm bad at social networking sites/don't social network on the internet/whatever, I am a lying liar who lies. Lyingly. I use the heck out of them! Every day! I would say that the majority of my internet time in a given day is spent using various social networking sites: LJ is mostly for roleplaying on; Plurk is mostly for communicating with people I roleplay with, Tumblr is for being an angsty hipster, and I have no idea what Twitter and Google+ are for, but my mom is on both of them. Facebook isn't for anything. So, the real question is, why do I use the roleplaying and angsty hipster sites more than the ones my mom is on?

Maybe it's because I'm an angsty hipster who roleplays most of the time, and a daughter only some of the time. I'm serious. Because if we just met online and I told you that I'm an angsty hipster who roleplays, and you knew what that meant, you would have a clear (although probably incorrect) picture of me in your head. We would have conversations like this:

You: You're a feminist, aren't you?
Me: YES! How did you know?
You: Well, based on the description of "angsty hipster who roleplays" you are most likely young, progressive, very left-leaning, and female. Therefore, you're probably a feminist! You may also be an atheist, a socialist, and a lesbian.
Me: You're correct, but creepily so. Please don't talk to me anymore.

And there are all sorts of assumptions you could make based on stereotypes about the groups of people I hang out in - assuming you knew what those stereotypes were - and a lot of them would be fairly accurate because the subcultures involved are fairly small and I just happen to be a very typical member of them.

This is not the case with daughters. (Or sisters, granddaughters, cousins, classmates, or any other of the myriad groups I fall into. I'm going to use "daughter" from now on not because I'm picking on my mom but because I feel like it.) The only thing you know about me based on these labels is that I'm female and possibly go to school. That's a huge group. (And, not coincidentally, one with a very high percentage of angsty hipster roleplayers!) Because "daughter" is a very broad group with lots of specialized subgroups, I am not usually doing anything specifically daughter-related but am usually doing something related to one or more of the subgroups I belong to. (Which are not entirely comprised of "angsty hipster" and "roleplayer" jsyk) When I am doing something daughter-related it usually involves talking to my mom on the phone. And then I don't need to post about it because WORD WILL GET OUT EVENTUALLY. All of my daughter-related activities are in and of themselves social networking, of the offline type.

"Well, that's great," you are saying, especially if you are my mother, "but you don't call very often. HINT, HINT." Also, you are probably thinking that you want more frequent and in-depth updates than I usually give over the phone, but you have not said that because you are my mother and I know better than to give you more than two sentences of dialogue. (I love you, Mommy.)

I can only respond to this totally correct observation by falling back on an analogy relating to something I know and am good at: roleplaying. No, seriously.

In RPland, some people make a thing called a CR (Character Relationships) chart. It's basically where you list everyone your character knows and somehow indicate (with words or sometimes symbols) the relationship between them. People do this so that they and everyone else can see at a glance what their character's relationship is to other characters - it's supposed to be useful as a memory aid, and also for thinking up plots and that sort of thing. Another thing RPers do is activity-tracking, which serves a similar purpose. That's where you save links to all of your character's interactions with other characters, clearly labeled by date, characters involved, and subject matter. Some people do both of these things, and some do it meticulously well.

I am not good at either of these things. They're time-consuming, a bit tedious, and no matter what I do I can't find a symbol for "they only had one thread together but I think this could be the start of something amazing" that will fit on a CR chart, or a notation for "and then I couldn't be arsed to update this thing for like a week and I don't know where I am" for my activity-tracking post. I also have this notion that both of these - useful as they seem - are in fact very silly ideas. You, reading this, probably think they sound silly, and that's because they sort of are. I mean, there are people, right now, who pretend to be fictional characters on the internet and then go back and catalog everything they did as these fictional characters so that interested parties (of which there are probably none) can read about them. HOLY MOTHER OF ALL USELESS ACTIVITIES, BATMAN!

Where this becomes relevant to you is the part where CR charts and thread-tracking are actually really similar to what people do on social networking sites. Every moment of every day you are pretending to be someone in real life, and that person is (insert your name here). You happen to be very good at playing your character - probably because you helped write the original work that character is from - but they're not exactly the same person as you. They're the face that you show the rest of the world. At the end of the day (or however often you do it) you get online and update the chart that shows your relationships to other characters (your facefriendcircles or whatever you want to call it) and make a new post (on your facefriendplusjournal) chronicling your activities. And then you read other people's activity-tracking posts and look at their CR charts and consider how they will affect your character, and you discuss this meta-data with other players (or sometimes have your character discuss it with other characters, because Life is one of those crazy games where you can break the fourth wall) and use it for memorization or plotting purposes.

Wow, you are a dork.

The problem is that I still completely suck at updating my CR charts and activity-tracking, whether it's for Galstaff, Sorcerer of Light (who I do not play) or Chi. You can usually get me to have my characters do something, and you can get me to make a post detailing my characters' opinions about something, but you can't get me to write meta content about them. Maybe it's because meta content is all written in-character as Chi and if Chi is writing meta content then there must be meta content about the meta content and then THAT meta content has to have meta content, and so on. The only way to write out of character meta content would be to not show it to anyone, and then... no one would see it.

... It's complicated, you guys. This is probably where someone would just say "I'm a very reserved person!" or "I'm shy" or "I'm old-fashioned!" and use that as an explanation for why they don't use social networks. But I don't have that excuse because I'm not really any of those things and do, in fact, use social networks extensively for playing roles. I just don't use them for meta data because meta data is supposed to be all meta and stuff and I like it that way.

Also, you guys, this post took literally three hours to write and was extremely meta. WHO HAS TIME FOR THIS?

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