Monday, September 26, 2011


I remember a few years ago the move so many made from LiveJournal to Facebook. Many of the discussions centered around similar topics, privacy issues, pay versus free, formatting and layout changes, oh and the DRAMA!

Another friend plans to leave FB, he cited several reasons for this decision, and made some very important points. So many of us, myself included, use fb as a means to stay in contact with friends we cannot see on a regular basis. FB seems to have filled in for so many social things we used to do:
BBQ's, pool partied, Girls night out, (okay Boy's night out too), getting together for lunch, having a movie night or a night of dancing or drumming.

Personally, I have a nice home with a huge back yard and nice covered patio, I've tried on several occasions to have a movie night, or bbq or anything at my house. I tried it last year when I was housebound because of my back, and I've tried it more recently because I take care of my two year old granddaughter.

But I can still go meet someone, and I've asked. I've asked for a girl's lunch, or movie night, really anything, I MISS seeing my friends. I am a social person, fb is a very very poor substitute. Don't get me wrong, I am grateful, it kept me in touch when I was so badly isolated. But it is just that, a poor substitute for real human interaction and intimacy.

Intimacy is not sexual, it is making yourself open, willing and vulnerable. I think that is why so many need fb so badly, they fear real intimacy and all its inherent risks.

I want to say, hey I'm with you and I am leaving fb. LOL, but I'm not, though I've considerably changed how I use it.

Social networking is not the same thing as hanging out with your friends. Actually social networking has always been a means to acquire more acquaintances that one could use when they needed a job, or an audience for a community or political platform, to make a sales pitch too, a ready made large group of people that one could send out their message too, regardless of what that message is.

Social networking is not about creating intimacy, trust, loyalty, affection, emotional ties. It can't be, because it is a false community, built on an invisible foundation we have no part in. And because we are participating in this network, via the internet, it instills an illusion of security and safety that is not real.

We learn to trust, we offer our affection and loyalty, based on time spent in another person's company. It is based on communication, verbal and non-verbal, emotional ties built over time.

It's like those people who have email/instant message relationships via the internet, and after a few weeks or few months they think they are in love. We laugh at that, but take seriously the 'friendships' we think we have created on Facebook. Seriously?

I've noticed is we tend to say hurtful or negative comments that we would never say to a person's face. It isn't about being dishonest, it is about filtering. Not too long ago I had a reputation for being a hot head. You know, open mouth insert leg! Wisdom is taking what we've learned and applying it to our lives, and just because something pops into my head it does not follow that is should spew out my mouth!

Good judgment does not apply to the friends we make, places we go, or the situations we find ourselves in, but in how we use our words. Contrary to popular cliches, sticks and stones may break your bones, and words will always hurt you. Brutal honesty is just that, brutal. We do not tolerate brutality in our lives, homes, r4elationships, so why suddenly is it acceptable on the internet?

Compassion, empathy, tolerance, kindness, these are NOT feelings, they ARE behaviors/actions. We must practice them daily, and frankly, it is a tad bit difficult to be truly compassionate, loving, kind et cetera if you aren't doing it there in person.

Sounds like I am talking myself into leaving FB, well maybe I am. I never thought I'd leave LiveJournal, but I did. I never thought I'd stop writing my blog, but I did.

For me the FB changes don't really matter, I stopped sharing anything there I didn't want the world to know a while ago. But the subsequent drama, one of my friends unfriending me because I made the mistake of telling her that the "hovering" would not solve the privacy concern, made me realize that the fb issues went far deeper than I had previously realized.

I am still surprised and shocked at how many felt betrayed by Facebook, simply because they are a company, and trying to make money and not their 'community'. That is way too much emotional investment in a machine. Because that is what Facebook is, a machine. It has a task, that task is to offer a set of services that people want, not need, but want, so that the machine can earn its owner lots of money.

Facebook is not your community, your community are your neighbors, the people you worship/ritual with, the person you take the time to have coffee with, the sick/hurt friend who needs someone to stop by and say hello, the family member you hug because they are having a bad day, it is the people we love, honor, respect. Those are actions, one must DO them, and that just cannot happen in make-believe internet land.

The more I write, the more I realize just how emotionally invested I am, not in FB, it could disappear tomorrow, everyone I care about, I have their email and phone numbers and many I have their home addresses. (not as many as I'd like though).

I am realizing that the last year of being home-bound, being unable to attend community events, and attempting to have real contact with those I call friends and being repeatedly rebuffed has hurt me more than I had previously accepted.

So where do we draw the line? When do we accept we are substituting real involvement for an illusion and do something about it?


Gwenny said...

The problem is, many of us are in neighborhoods where we are barely tolerated. I live in a fairly ethic condo association and have very little in common with neighbors, including language. And I've been on the move for so many years, I know there's no real reason to get close to folks I don't really have much in common with. Plus, while I adore people, I'm pretty private in real life. I get tired of all the drama of people's lives . . get tired of being called at night to pick someone up whose car has broken down or to hear the complaints of a woman whose husband is misbehaving . . . I LIKE having virtual friends who are so far away they can't ask me to do anything for them.

I suppose it's kind of anti-social. Maybe it's just the way I'm wired, I was a loner as a child and learned to be social in college. I am very, very happy with my virtual networks . . my Facebook, Google+ and World of Warcraft. That gives me enough drama to keep me from ever longing for meatspace interactions.

Right now I live with two of my adult children. One is very social and goes out a lot. The other has EXTENSIVE networks in IRC and other gaming locals and is very happy not to have to deal with real people, as I am. Perhaps if I'm ever alone again, I might look for a friend or two. But right now, between work and being a guildmaster, I have all the human interaction I need. LOL

Anonymous said...

You raise several good points, especially "Social networking is not the same thing as hanging out with your friends."

However, much like Gwenny, the real life friends are often not near us in locality, and the people who are near may not even be acquaintances. I've lived in my current home over a decade and know only the neighbors on either side of us, and neither of them well - different social groups entirely and we've little in common other than the fact we live next door.

I am one of the those leaving FB - I've had to reactivate my account to clear out some data I don't want stored on their servers, but it is going away again in just a few days. In the few days between my original deletion and the restoration, I became annoyed, then angered and then appalled at the pervasiveness of Facebook. It seems that every news site, every business site wanted me to link my Facebook account to them.

No thank you.

Once it's gone this time, I'll start doing other things, like reading again. Maybe go for a walk somewhere and actually see people and things.

Who am I kidding? There's a better than even chance I'll be restoring it before the two weeks are up. I just hope not.

Blackthorn.Huntress said...

I understand where you are both coming from, but I'm guessing that neither of you use FB for real emotional fulfillment or validation. Instead you have a stronger sense of self, along with real friends, near or far, who you both can count on to lend a shoulder if you need it. I doubt you would post your dirty laundry, and then act all surprised when people talked about it. Too many use FB as a substitute for real relationships, and that is a concern to me.