Monday, October 03, 2016

Can You Do Social Without Social Media?

Sometimes seeing a news feed full of smiling happy babies, parents bragging about their kids, cute announcements about new pregnancies or photos of newborns in the quintessential baby blanket is too much to take in. When that happens I deactivate my Facebook account until I stop feeling so emotional. I don’t announce these breaks. For all of my joking about being self absorbed, about being my own favorite subject (all true, though, as most jokes are. I kid, I kid) I don’t like to call attention to those moments. What’s the point, really? There’s nothing to be gained by it. So I quietly go away and quietly come back. And rarely has anyone commented on that.

I was trying to explain Facebook to a friend the other day. Though she doesn’t have an account, she asked me if I’d seen a certain bit of news. “No,” I said, “I disabled my accounts weeks ago.” This prompted her to ask if anyone had reached out to see if something was wrong, if I was okay. I laughed, “No,” I said. “That’s not how Facebook works.”

I believe that and, yet, I also wonder, if I were closer to people, maybe it would work that way?

I remember when I started blogging back in 2000; back then, if you were someone who posted on a regular basis, not posting something for a few days, a week, would trigger at least one “Hey, are you okay?” email. It isn’t that I think people cared more but I do think having to actively visit blogs created a level of investment that News Feeds don’t provide. You had your list of ten, fifteen, twenty blogs that you made the rounds on, and you could get to the point where you felt connected to someone. How deep that connection truly was, of course, is a question.

But now, in the days of 5000 friends lists, and endless ability to follow or subscribe to content, the act of taking in information is more passive and impersonal, I think. “But,” she protested, “haven’t they noticed that you haven’t posted or liked an announcement?”

“I’m sure not,” I said. “That’s just not the way it works.”

Facebook has allowed me to stay in touch with friends and family in El Salvador in a way that hasn’t been possible in the past; for that I appreciate the service but it has its cons. Though, truly, when it comes down to it, I don’t blame the service entirely, or at all, really. If this tool isn’t the one I need right now, then it’s on me to use any number of other services at my disposal. And maybe I will. Or maybe I’ll just reactivate my account. It is strangely fascinating to me how little I’ve missed it this time around, and at three weeks and counting, this has been the longest break I’ve taken.

I’m not ready to see any cute babies, just yet though. So I’ll continue the self-imposed ban for a little while longer. Maybe I’ll even use the time I would have spent scrolling and commenting by tackling some of my unread books. Wouldn’t that be something?

Filed under: Dailies

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Helene at 04:45pm on 10/05/2016

You’re right. It’s not how it works. And oh so right to deactivate your account when need be! I so should. (Damn it, I feel caught now, since so many people only contact me via FB… I guess it’s the flip side of not having/wanting a cell phone: I don’t get text messages any other way [email me, people, email me like it’s 2002!]) It’s not smiling babies (sorry if mine ever made you cringe, I don’t post their faces often) for me, but other issues that end up ruining my—well… moments. Not *days* (I hope) but some stuff does make me spin in completely unwanted, unneeded and detrimental ways. All this to fuel someone’s advertizing income (it’d be easy if that’s all there was to it)... Sigh.

But now I’m sorry I didn’t realize you’d vanished for weeks (gasp). It’s not how FB works, but… shit, woman, it’s how friends work. I’m a far away, once in a while friend, an online friend, whatever, I still feel like something is wrong and missing when you spell it out like that. (I’ll add it to my pile of shit to reflect on when I get a chance…)

Now go read a book! Right now I have so many new ones I KNOW will be awesome I can’t wait for the evening when I get a few minutes to myself before I nod off. Books, as we both know, are yummy. So, so yummy. Hmmm, boooooks…

Patricia at 05:26pm on 10/05/2016

Can you install FB messenger on your phone? FB has actually made it so you can disable your account while still using the messenger app. That’s the best thing FB has done in forever. Messenger is the only way my family in El Salvador contacts me so not having access to it was always the thing that made me sign back in even when I didn’t feel quite ready.

Don’t be sorry. The tool isn’t really built for noticing such things. I don’t take it personally. Although, funny that I thought you were visiting and commenting here because maybe you’d noticed the absence there. But this way is better. Thanks for reading and commenting! <3

Helene at 05:35pm on 10/05/2016

I don’t have or want a cell phone (if it was free I’d refuse it!). I have a land line and don’t consider a ring to mean I should necessarily pick up… But I should totally call my phone/Internet company and ask how I can install messenger on my cordless phones, it’d be hilarious! grin

I’m here because you are. Because my RSS feeds include you and when I see you posted something, I click! Simple as that. Old school as that! grin

Patricia at 08:39pm on 10/05/2016

That’s right. I know you don’t have a cell phone. Spaced for a moment when making the suggestion. smile I had to get my mother used to the idea that just because a cell phone rings one can immediately answer it. I think the conversation went something like, “But why not?!?” So I went to the extreme and said, “Sometimes I’m in the bathroom when you call!” That seemed to finally do it. Though I’m not sure if she now thinks I’m in the bathroom every single time she calls. She mustn’t or else she’d be wondering if I’m ill. heh.

Oh! RSS feeds. It’s been forever since I’ve used them that I’d quite forgotten how handy they can be. Silly me.

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