I have some very conflicted opinions on Steve Heimoff's most recent outburst of social media loathing. On the one hand, I actually agree with him that our reliance on tools like Twitter, Facebook, and the like have damaged real world communications. I have been to dinners where people who were actually in the SAME ROOM spent the entire evening texting each other. I am painfully aware of the fact that my mobile phone has been the instrument of horribly anti-social behavior at times, as I have rudely tweeted during social activities. This seems to be the kind of behavior that Steve is railing against, and I have to say that he is right to do so. I also can't argue with his points regarding the bastardization of the word "friend", which has suffered much degradation at the hands of MySpace and Facebook.
Still, I feel that we aught to make sure to not chuck the baby while we are disposing of all this bathwater. There are some very positive things that these tools allow us to do. Some of these are pointed out in Tom Wark's rebuttal to the Heimoff piece, and in this piece from the Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman. As a resident of a West Texas town with about 200,000 people, very few of whom are really seriously into wine, I really appreciate the community that I've been able to join through Twitter and blogs.
I think that we should definitely look at technology with a critical eye, and determine what parts really make out lives better, and what parts distance us from the people that we see everyday. Let's face it, there is no serious backlash against social media. Steve Heimoff is delusional if he thinks that things like Twitter, blogs, and Facebook are going to come under serious fire from the mainstream public. If anything, we are venturing more deeply into these kinds of services, and there are no real significant signs of it stopping any time soon. Members of the mainstream press, and specifically the mainstream wine press, need to come to the realization that these tools are here to stay, and that they need to adapt if they are going to remain vital. Heimoff has partially embraced this, he does have his own blog after all, but constantly complaining about bloggers and social media in a blog seems disingenuous at best, and juvenile and bitter at worst. This is the world that we live in, Steve Heimoff should make the best of it.