Wednesday, 19 September 2012

In praise of Mister Ed and (anti)social media



Having discovered my blog has been listed as one of the World's Top 100 Gardening Websites for 2012 by MyGardenSchool I ask myself a) what’s MyGardenSchool (an online horticulture school), b) how did they come to this conclusion (unique visitors, design, content provision, rankings by Google and ‘as sprinkling of personal recommendation and subjectivity’) and c) is this a good thing (hmmm)?

I blog because I have things I want to tell people and I like writing. From that perspective anything that might attract more readers is a good thing. Although I can't discount a touch of the Will Self in there: write what you think needs to be written and the reader be damned (to paraphrase Mr Self).

To be top-100-ed is also someone else saying you’ve done good. We all like praise. So as long as MyGardenSchool is a good school and they’ve done their research thoroughly, I’m happy. I’m also chuffed with the words ‘intelligent and entertaining’ in the description of TalkingPlants – that’s certainly what I’d like to be.

On the other hand mixing with all these other blogs and being part of a ‘club’ is something I’m less enthusiastic about. I think people assume bloggers are extroverted, gregarious folk who use their blog site as yet another way to drone on about how their life or ideas are important and interesting. My blog is a solitary pursuit.

Which brings me to my biggest conundrum – how did I get tangled up in social media? Media, yes. I like that. But social?


It’s not that I don’t like talking to people but I’ve always found Mister Ed (the talking horse) rather wise. In the theme song for this insightful 1960s television show is the line ‘Mr Ed will never speak unless he has something to say’. I don’t always hold to this mantra but I try.

Social media, then, is a bit of dilemma. I like it. I can talk at people, occasionally interact on matters of substance or humour, and promote things I like or create. All good. I don’t live on or in social media but skim across the surface, dipping in from time to time. I’m sure this is what lots of people do.

I notice others out there who are extroverted on social media and introverted in ‘real life’. Again, all good. It allows people to express things they may not be able to do so easily outside the interweb.

Conversely, incurably gregarious souls sometimes struggle to speak in this virtual world. Again, all good.

I don’t share the shrill concerns about social media ruining life or destroying the social fabric of society. It (being an evolving mix of twittery, bloggy, facebooky thingies) is a wonderfully charming way to express one’s self. I used to quite like letter writing back when.

So I’ll continue to blog, tweet and facebookerize. I’ll probably dabble in the next wave of social media too, and the next. But don’t mistake this for being social.

Which all reminds me of the lovely quote I first read in Stylised (A Slightly Obsessive History of Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style, by Mark Garvey): “Never miss the opportunity to say nothing”.


Images: Mr Ed is available on numerous websites, the other two images are of what remains of the Berlin Wall (taken during my recent visit) and representing another kind of social media.

3 comments:

Gardener in the Distance said...

Tim, I especially like your comment: 'never miss the opportunity to say nothing'.
But what I really like is Mr Ed, or liked, when I was young, with his very pertinent quips.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tim,

I for one am very happy to hear your wonderful blog is getting the digital spotlight! Now this will get me to visiting "MyGardenSchool," to find out what they are up to. Your honest love of plants and your talent at weaving your respect for science into great stories is why I commend your blog to my students, family and friends. Keep on keeping on! Walt A. in the Finger Lakes of New York State, USA.

Tim Entwisle said...

Thanks for the feedback!
Tim