Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story (on a postcard)
I heard Michael Kimball on the radio today talking about his Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story project. He writes 600-word biographies of people and posts them on his blog. Sounds like a good idea, though I suppose he attracts some people for whom it is just another vanity feather in their narcissistic cap. There are some poignant stories which, if true, should make most of us feel that we led remarkably sheltered childhoods -- even if our parents did get divorced, even if one of them was a raging alcoholic, even if we were abandoned on a doorstep as an infant.
In the era of Twitter and Facebook, it sometimes feels as if we have more information about what large egos people have and how good they feel about their accomplishments than we could possibly ever need. Is is really necessary to use Facebook as a tool for telling the world how darn pleased you are with yourself for having just done a power run, followed by a two-hour pilates class and power yoga? Or about your killer tomatoes (anyone in my neck of the woods who doesn't have killer tomatoes coming in this year has a toxic thumb), brilliant children, gifted grandchildren or favorite television shows and how cool you are for watching them? As if doing so required something more complicated than plunking your ass in a chair and manipulating the remote with your index finger.
Sometimes, when I read Facebook I feel like an enabler of something ugly and narcissistic. And Twitter? Is it really necessary to let the world know what you are doing every second of the day? Does it feed some deep need to be connected? All I know is that All That Twitters Is Not Told, and I personally would rather read Michael Kimball's postcards from the edge than mindless though often ironic "thought" bubbles in an age of monumental ego inflation. Because the thing about Facebook and Twitter and all the rest is that the snippets we see rarely tell us anything meaningful about who a person is. They are merely recitations of all the meaningless shit we do every day but which, because it concerns our self-identity via our brand choices, never makes it into the annual Christmas card about how wonderful we and our peeps are. Apparently there are many people out there who opened Facebook accounts so they could tell their friends every time they consume a tall soy latté from you know where or buy a gadget from the apple store. They are our proudest intimate Kodak moments; they are not the stuff we hide away in the darkest rooms of our soul, hoping that no one will enquire about them.
I fear that in the not-too-distant future, I'll read on someone's Facebook wall that they have just had the world's nicest poop. Large, soft, relatively odor free. And there will be comments, encouragements, acolades. You go, girl! Or maybe: you went, girl! Or maybe: No shit! Good for you!