I read this yesterday, but from the headline alone, I probably could have answered ‘yes’. It’s also, in part, made me decide to take a break from the social media juggernaut as well and to post less frequently to Twitter. Why? Like most of the folks Mr Marche talks about in the article, I spend far, far too much time online. I am one of those people who ‘checks in’ at various online outlets on my phone before I even get out of bed. I am wasting a lot of quality time in good weather sitting inside at a computer screen. I should be doing something aside from trying to be first person in my group of friends to link to a photo of a miniature hippopotamus from my Facebook wall in a vaguely five-year-old at a grown-up birthday party ‘Hey! Look at me! Look at me!’ jumping up and down way.
Speaking of noise, I am thoroughly sick of internet democracy. It’s one thing to just skip the comments at the end of a an article on the Ottawa Citizen’s website because you’re tired of hearing about bike lanes make business fail, but between the U.S. Election and the protests in Quebec and the debates about attachment parenting, I unwillingly/unwittingly see a lot of very negative feeling from people I care about involuntarily through that Zuckerberg thing. I don’t really get into online debates anymore, especially on topics I don’t fully understand, because it so easily becomes obsessive and unpleasant – then you’ve missed out on a lovely sunset because you were trying to find that one fact you’re SURE you read three years ago to back up your argument. Like most people, I very much like to be right. But sometimes the fight isn’t worth the effort.
The whole internet is kind of artificial and weird, obviously, and, as the article states, I think it’s led to friendship breakdowns in a lot of ways. I literally got a homesick stomachache from reading it, even though I was sitting on a park bench next to my best friend at the time. Yes, I am delighted that Facebook helps me keep in better touch with people I don’t see often/ever, but it’s so passive and effortless that it’s not keeping those links strong or healthy. Individual contact, phone calls (or even texts), personalised rather than group emails, and, hell, old-fashioned letter-writing, for me, would be much more effective ‘friendship tools’, for lack of a better expression, and were better tools. I really should use them more. I have a feeling that a lot of people still do, but I absolutely have not been.
Worst of all, I think it’s affecting my creativity bigtime to keep up with all this shit. I love Twitter, because I crank out a one-liner from time to time, or ask for advice on where to get my Birks recorked in Hintonburg. It’s fun. It’s helpful. But between it and the constant checking in at Facebook, because I am on there several times a day in an automatic, addictive sort of way, I am forgetting fundamental-in-real-life things, or end up running late for work because of yet another YouTube video of meerkats doing that synchronised head thing that they do. That information is fun, but not necessary or useful when I have other stuff to do. I have half- (well, tenth-)realised writing projects I’d like to finish one day. I’d like to really get focused on my trivia studying. I’d like to run a half-marathon without sucking wholeheartedly (btw, this won’t be happening this weekend – if I do better than 2:30, I will be really fucking surprised). At this point, though, I can’t even sit through an episode of ‘Game of Thrones without my phone by my side so that I can tweet about it, or check Facebook, or play Angry Birds WHILE WATCHING. I’ve always been a bit (very) fidgety, but that is absolutely ridiculous.
So, yes, in a (possibly) vain attempt to grab some of my life back, I’m withdrawing from Facebook quite a bit (the cinema’s wall will still require attention every few days, obviously). I will still be on Twitter, but probably less tweety. This blog will remain a daily thing, but for the next week or so, I’m going to be working on a project involving moving and photos and not a lot of words. I will make small steps towards reconnecting with the folks who are NOT Facebook addicted and at checking in with other people by other means. If you get engaged, I’d love to hear from you personally than dig through hundreds of wall posts from other people.
And so it begins. Wish me luck.
(Also, I do realise the inherent jerkiness of doing this the day after my birthday, the only day at a year when I get a deluge of FB messages – but isn’t that largely because a little box reminded my Friends that it was my birthday? Why yes, this horse is very tall.)
One thought on “Pluralising the word ‘hiatus’.”
I took my birthday information completely off Facebook for this reason. I mean, it’s nice to be remembered, but I don’t care if people *don’t*, and the constant pinging of my phone would have driven me bonkers, especially as I was in a client meeting all day.
I am equal parts fascinated and disturbed by what the internet (and Facebook in particular) has done to my brain, and I don’t even use it as much as you. I post things and check back to see if anyone commented. I read things in other places and reflexively want to “Like” them. And yes, I think it gives you that odd, false security that you’re keeping up with people, just because you know what they’re doing and what their kids look like.
A few days before my birthday, I got a card in the mail from an old friend I was very close to in high school, but had since grown apart from (other than looking faithfully at all her Facebook posts, of course). In the card she wrote me a letter telling me how much I had always meant to her. I got a bit misty, honestly, and as I have a black little heart, that takes some effort. I wrote back, a real letter. And we are meeting for lunch tomorrow. I am so, so grateful for this turn of events. I don’t know if I ever would have reached out like that, because I always assume people have better things to do, and I don’t have the balls to insinuate myself into it.
Now, technology facilitated this, so I would never give it up completely. Without Facebook, I might never even find people with which to reconnect. Without the internet, I wouldn’t even KNOW you, and that would be fucking tragic. But I’m more grateful for the times we get to spend in the same room.