Monday, February 14, 2011

The mysterious science of social media

Last night, I watched the Grammys show with a friend. More specifically, one friend was in the room while numerous others joined us online. My friend and I ordered a pizza, one of those delivered rectangular behemoths the size of an aircraft carrier complete with sauce for dipping. A short time before the show, while ballasted with bites of the doughy sauced peperoni’d confection, she opened the laptop, signed into the book of faces and discovered that friends were gathering to add color commentary to the TV show. We had enough leftover pizza to feed all our social media friends.

On went the show. Maybe you watched too. Amazing music, costumes, lights and sights. On went the commentary on the book of faces as the moderator and party host, music-lover Chris, facilitated the conversational thread. Hilarious.

As the evening went on, it occurred to me that I’ve been here before. My memories emerged of the New Year’s marathons of Mystery Science Theater 3000. The tradition of watching the marathon collection started New Years Day in 1992. My brother-in-law, my son (then 7) and I watched and commented with three shadowed commenters making their funny remarks. And we laughed. Here’s a sample of the humor.

There’s an art form to this style of humor, or at least I think it’s a unique way of seeing the world together. MST3000 reminds me of times at Sunday matinees at the Boyd Theater in Chester, Pa, when a collection of my friends would kid around during the triple features that had interspersed serial shorts. There’s a science to this as well. A science of listening and laughing, picking up on someone’s comment, carrying the humor forward with a layered joke, a series of rim-shot punctuated deliveries like Henny Youngman.

Say what you may about social media. Say it’s impersonal. Say it’s a waste of time. Silly. Say we may be connected, but we’re disconnected. I say it’s fun, a new version of Mystery Science. What’s cool about the exchange last night is knowing that when we all meet up, and we will for real this week, last night’s Grammy show will be a collective memory, food for real conversation in a genuine social setting.

Gotta go…meeting a few friends for lunch and I don’t have time to post that as my book of faces status or compose a tweet.

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