Social Media: Making Insufferable Behavior Less Obnoxious

On Saturday, my friends Megan McArdle and Peter Suderman got married, and I was privileged to attend their wedding. Making things even better, lots of my friends and colleagues and acquaintances also attended, which meant that the McSudleman union was one of those rare weddings that turned out to be a lot of fun. TPM’s Brian Beutler remarked yesterday that except for all the monkey suits and the, you know, transcendently beautiful occasion, it was like any number of evenings where the attendees would find ourselves gathered around a bar or something talking about the usual stuff. And since we were on our way to see Get Him To The Greek with three other attendees of the wedding I thought his point was well-taken.

But given that the overlapping groups of friends that Megan and Peter share contain a large proportion of professional bloggers, media enthusiasts and geeks, their wedding was pretty heavily tweeted, as Tim Lee discusses. When the priest asked everyone to turn off their phones, I felt my own #McSudleman strategy fall into uncertain prospects. Tim provides a normative case for why our compulsive tweeting wasn’t any sort of faux pas:

There’s a school of thought that says this is tacky and even anti-social. On this view, people should be interacting in “real life” with the happy couple and each other, not ignoring each other as they stare at their cell phones. This isn’t a view I share. For starters, no one was tweeting to the exclusion of face-to-face communication. One of the best things about Twitter is that it’s extremely lightweight. You can read and write tweets in a few seconds, often during times (such as waiting in line for a drink) when you wouldn’t be talking to anyone anyway. We did plenty of talking, dancing, eating, and drinking along with our tweeting.

Naturally, I agree, and hopefully not just for self-interested reasons. Your mileage mary vary, but in addition to the defense of Twitter that Tim offers, I’d add this. A wedding is among the most important events in a person’s life. You gather friends and family to your wedding not just to share the experience, but to distribute the commemoration of the moment, an event in time made more durable by everybody’s collective recollection. I hope what we added to the first day of Megan and Peter’s new life together was something like a distributed scrapbook that anyone who knows the hashtag can access, reading through our gooey sentimental outbursts to our affected inter-table rivalries at the reception. And while this particular hashtag might not have inspired those who couldn’t attend the wedding to join in, hopefully future ones will. After all, if documentation is about the preservation of memory, then social media is all value-added — not just for the trivial moments in people’s lives, but for the profound.

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Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman

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