September 2, 2009
Quitting Facebook has given my life more leading.
I am prancing airily about, doing one thing at a time and ticking stuff off the list in a completely not-psychotic manner. Chopping water and carrying wood.
August 31, 2009
After writing about my reservations concerning Facebook, I felt I should join just so that I had a critical leg to stand on. My main concern was that I would waste time and become addicted to it, the two major concerns of friends who are on it a lot. But an odd thing happened. When I joined, after a flurry of activitiy setting it all up and being happy when people decided to be my friends, I got hit with a barrage of interesting tidbits about random topics mixed with PR stuff from a large number of intelligent and active people.
At first I scanned all of it. All of it is interesting, what's not to scan? But in a few days the whole thing became, well, something I began to avoid. "It became "too much information" about too much that really does not concern me. It became just one more opportunity to engage, when what I often need to do is disengage. Push in the clutch. Shut off the engine. Sit in the silent car and think thoughts.
As a person who gets paid to communicate in words, the Facebook opportunity may seem different to me than it does to a person who is paid to communicate in pictures and finds words refreshing. It may seem different to me than to someone who has little opportunity to communicate on the web, or to communicate with friends or family. I recognize this.
Yet I worry about that random information. Just as trivia is only trivia. Information that informs action is the only information I really need, and anything else is static, is noise. Teaching people to pay attention to large numbers of inconsequential facts is a great way to teach them to spend more time scanning and less time wrestling what they actually think about things. What their stand is. What their position is.
The last scan of my wall left a large jumble in my head : the encroachment of the L.A. fires; someone's passing her motorcycle license test; a teaser for Burning Settlers Cabin's current post; the death of type designer Edward Rondthaler; a call for incrementalism in design, (now I have to go find out what the heck incrementalism is); the proposal of Elle's September Issue as a weight-pumping method; the closing of Cafe des Artistes.
In the spirit of reducing my own personal complexity, I quit Facebook. I do not care that long-lost friends and family could have found me had I stayed. I do not care that I could have looked up college friends and gone somewhere and had a high old time with them drinking large red cocktails and disparaging former husbands.
Bottom line: send me the precis, the highlights, the executive summary.
If I wanted to sift, I'd be a baker.
August 18, 2009
Ok. Here's the update.
Preliminary conclusion: it is probably one thing to have all your college friends sending you pix of themselves partying on the beach and making cute remarks when you are 21. It is another to have a bunch of fifty-somethings posting what amounts to a continuous PR feed on your wall.
Now, had I "friends" that were not in the communications business, perhaps this barrage would be less intense. But this is the nub: Facebook after forty is no beach party. It's a marketing fiesta, a mash of information that others hope you might just act upon.
Oddly, I do not find this mash all that appealing, although at first I assumed it would be addictive because so many people had told me it was. And it IS good for procrastination-- about on the level of dusting blinds and cleaning sliding door tracks. And I like the little pictures of everyone. That's cheery.
Perhaps I do not find these three-days worth of Facebook appealing for the same reason that I do not find fashion magazines all that appealing: my mind tends to put all the ads into some sort of narrative, though no story was originally intended. (That false narrative can result in observations about the current state of the culture, but I have to be on my game for that. Otherwise, it's just tiring.)
Facebook posts generate the same sort of related-unrelated narrative. Drenttel's auto-posts from Design Observer blend with Stefan's discovery of a Lobster Saint, Grant's trip to Harvard and Steve's New Mexican silver candlesticks show. It's too much information for a woman that likes to relax in cohesion.
I do find one thing interesting, though. The little wavy words you have to type in to defeat hackers-- these could be used as a generation tool for Eighties-style band names. My most recent favorite: 13,000 shellacs.
August 15, 2009
This morning, presented with yet another opportunity to join, my deep questioning weakened by flu and my resolve mashed by Thomas's thought that anyone who has a blog can't really trumpet privacy issues, I joined Facebook.
First thoughts upon joining.
1. The people in my friends area are very attractive. I seem to know no real dogs.
2. There's currently an ad popping up that offers to turn me into a cartoon.
3. Immediate procrastination-stopping techniques must be brought into play. I could noodle on Facebook for hours, avoiding all, proving what I originally stated: Facebook is like a baby with a piece of scotch tape. Back, forth. Back, forth.
June 4, 2009
So Sources Close to the Hill tell me he is indeed gone from Microsoft and these same sources have provided blogspot info and facebook page addresses, which I had been hoping to avoid. The blogspot thing has no way to contact him, and gives the impression that the man is currently wandering around Russia wearing a kilt. It surprises me that his blog is reverse-reading type, which I thought the Starch Readership Reports reported was hard for people to read way back in something like 1962. Ironic.
But the Facebook page. Now see, that is a problem. Because there is something about Facebook that just makes my skin crawl and I hate to have to join it just to track down Bill Hill. I dislike LinkedIn too, which I got snagged into years ago, but haven't had the time to figure out how to make my darn page there just go away.
Facebook is one of those things I could easily take a stand against and then end up using out of sheer peer pressure, so I am watching my words here. I see its appeal for people in college. For people older than thirty, it just seems sad to me.
Perhaps I've been involved in computer security discussions too many times for my own good, but if a total stranger came up to you on a city street corner and asked you your birthdate and the names of closest friends and what you were currently reading and what you were currently listening to, wouldn't you be slightly repressed about answering? And yet we can't wait to put all that stuff on Facebook, where it becomes part of a huge database owned by a corporation with no moral agenda.
My real problem with Facebook is that, unliked Linked-In, which is basically a resume service and has no pretence to warmth, Facebook gives us the illusion that we have real, working relationships. It allows us to "keep up" with people without actually doing the hard work of interacting with them. With Facebook, we can avoid the back and forth of real conversation--posts are not conversation-- and thereby reduce the friction with which real communication burnishes friendship after the age of fifteen or so.
Facebook also reduces "friends" to a numbers game. Real friends? if you're lucky, you'll have three in your lifetime. To devalue the concept of friendship, to commodify it-- that's a depressing outcome of social networking. When all friends are equally important, none is important.
Facebook is attractive because it is a large, clean grid into which we can enter, a grid that makes life less complex, provides a sense of boundary, of safety, of organization, of comfort. With the population so much larger than it was even ten years ago, an organizing system for people is useful. And so much more fun than having a small number tattooed on one's forearm.
I've signed up and look! I have so many friends. I must be of value. I can sit here and create and promote a better me. I can clean up my existence and create a false-fronted representation of my life. Hey. Let's all contribute and create a huge network of false-fronted lives, lives that make us all feel of value, of importance, to ourselves if to no one else.
I can play Facebook all day long, and avoid the real work of my life, the work of becoming "single, separate, vertical and individual," as Wallace Stegner once said.
I can always avoid the work of my life in other ways, but this particular procrastination device is more attractive than my previous procrastination devices-- it's designed to change and refresh and update constantly before my eyes. It keeps me busy and happy in my chair. Facebook keeps me busy like a baby with a mobile over the crib.
Really, why spend too much time in real life where things get hard, where people make so little sense, where sadness erupts, where life can be messy and confusing? Why not just sit here and write little things and look at the pictures of all my friends and post to people from my past whom I never bothered to contact before contacting them became as easy as typing in a search? But we're in touch now, and isn't that nice? Something of a relief, feeling like we're in touch again.
Maybe I'll just sit here, honing the constructed image of my life until there's no time left for me to create a real one. It will be easier on the world. Fewer people thinking thoughts. Fewer people questioning. Fewer people rocking the boat.
But what am I saying. I'll probably end up joining.