to facebook or not to facebook aka facebook obituary?

A friend who is a significant person in the blogosphere (got a book contract out of it) has recently ghosted herself (left facebook). She says she was wasting too much time on it, and needed that energy for the blog (and i imagine next book) writing.

i know what she means.

when i was writing seriously, sometime the wastebook was a huge distraction.

i was a late (and reluctant) adopter. The social straw that broke that particularly stubborn camel’s back was moving house – all of a sudden i wasn’t seeing my much loved peeps in the small country town street, and i missed some (mostly minor) significant social events that i would have preferred to attend (isolate introvert that i often am, i like to have to the choice 😉 ). And so i succumbed. Having read over the husband’s shoulder for a few years first, and used his account to msg those people who had (by virtue of our wierd rural ph/mb/isp/lifestyle idiosyncrasies) become only contactable via fb. I succumbed, set up m own account (using a pseudonym – i’m a privacy freak, had a couple of peeps in my past whom i did not wish to be contacted by, and don’t trust my own ITC nor FB’s frequent setting changes). Once i’d felt comfortable to ditch my fb training wheels, i even ended up page adminstrator for one of the community groups i volunteer for.

but again (as with every time i think i’m way too screen addicted), i see what she means. Is fb just a great waste of my time? Another tool in my already extensive procrastination toolkit?

i think, for the moment, no. It’s still my only way, in what feels sometimes a very lonely life, to stay in touch with certain very significant peeps. (See, i’ve been corrupted: i use words like ‘peeps’, which i would never have used prior fb and blog reading). Even when they are only posting / reposting ‘cats’ (metaphor for miscellaneous trivia), sometimes those cats are actually their own cats, or fur-children, and those posts give me a sense of how they are travelling – and a nudge to give so-and-so a phone call, or line up a coffee date. i tend in particular to keep an eye on the ones i feel are less socially equipped (the orphaned, the widowed, the currently under stupid amounts of pressure), and see how they are going – without having to actually do much more than ‘like’ or ‘lol’ to indicate my ongoing interest, concern, love and support for their day to day thoughts.

it means i do have less long catchup phone calls, which is a little sad. i used to spend long chunks of time on the ph with certain interstate or housebound folk (remember the days of telstra ‘cheap on sundays / evenings’ calls?). It seems that when i have a sense of ‘what have you been up to’, i’m less likely to call. As are they. And it’s probably a lifestage thing too – we’re all too busy wrangling family / work / study / domestics / volunteering / living, these days, in our thirties and forties, to spend long luxurious hours on the phone.

but it means when those phone calls do happen, they cut to the chase (the d&m) bits almost instantly – rather than ‘what have you been up to’, it’s ‘i need your advice / i’m losing the plot / my [insert friend/relative] is seriously ill and i need to talk’. Wow. Intimacy without verbal foreplay. Or weeks of facebook foreplay, With an awful lot of people, who you might never / otherwise have progressed to that sort of intimate conversation with.

fb has brought some real blessings to my life. Blessings i firmly fended off (then gradually succumbed to, firstly by peering over my husband’s shoulder). The quiet joy of observing and learning from other people, their lives, their interests, their reflections. The exposure to global art, science, history, social manifestations. The ability to be a clickitivist for issues i feel strongly about but cannot jam into my current activist platter. The endorphin rush of the many generous responses when i tentatively (rarely) broadcast an actual status update: sometimes brief, heartfelt, heavily camouflaged but slightly desperate plea for warm fuzzies. My usual solely sharing/liking/lurking presence seems to mean that when i do ask for feedback or support, i get it in what seems like relative spades. Or even if i don’t get a like or a comment, that person in the street will say, yeah, how are you going with that? saw your post this morning… And i get a surprise: someone did see that post. Someone did think of me briefly. Someone does care.

and for someone of my depressive tendencies, those little moments can really help keep me afloat. Particularly when i’m feeling alone. in that worldwide global collection, that is my group of past and present significant and insignficant and acquaintence type friends, someone is generally available to care. Or join me for an insomniac fb msging frenzy. or ring me, since we’re clearly awake anyway, and we might as well both talk.

so whilst i do need to keep an eye on my wastebook usage, and acknowledge (and accept) the dopamine seeking desperation addictive lurking / clicking i sometimes berate in myself, i need to see it as an indicator. if i’m lurking on fb but unable to talk to friends in person, that’s ok. it means i need to be careful, to try to keep those maslow triangular eat/sleep/security/affirming occupations/exercise/nourishing not crappy tv and novels and online articles distractions coming. it means my present brain chemicals are hunting desperately for small sugary fixes. And that’s ok.

becuase sometimes all those small distractions are so much better than staying alone in my headspace.

and all those fb addicts out there appear to feel this too.

may we all enrich our lives through both our online and IRL social networking. And be rejoiced by each others’ cats.

xx fair world xx