A few people have asked me why I shut down my Facebook account and whether I’ll be back. I’ve explained to them, a few of them at least, that my reasons for leaving were many, but the real trigger for my decision had to do with a bit of self-reflection.
I looked at my presence on Facebook and saw evidence, not of John Swinburn, but of Kim Kardashian. There was a lot of vapor, but very little substance. I’ll be quick to say that several of my Facebook friends have not succumbed to the temptation to use Facebook chatter as a substitute for the real exchange of ideas. But I did. I think I get an endorphin rush when interacting with people about ideas, issues, likes and dislikes, etc. But Facebook was my crack; I allowed it to transform communications into something odd and a little grotesque.
So, in an effort to repair and rebuild my intellectual capacity, I opted to withdraw. At least for awhile. And that leads to the next issue: will I be back?
The answer to that question is much more difficult. On one hand, I see enormous value in Facebook as an adjunct to more traditional forms of “keeping in touch.” Facebook is a tool for communication, pure and simple. It is not a magical, transformative new technology, but it does make unique use of technology to enable users to communicate in ways that were heretofore difficult, if not impossible. So, I can envision returning to Facebook at some point, perhaps soon, to take advantage of its capabilities.
If I return to Facebook, though, I think…I hope…I will be less prolific. I will be more judicious. That is, I will post only when I have something to say and not simply to exercise my fingers. Maybe you can’t play with crack, though. Maybe you have to either use it and face the consequences or avoid it entirely. I suppose I’ll answer that question in good time.
Robin, I envy your ability to play with crack without the addiction! I hope to get to that point, too. My concerns relate more to me than to Facebook. Whereas you are not inclined to share a lot on FB, I was sharing far more than made any sense to do. You are right; neither FB nor blogging are the answers. Used in moderation, perhaps, they can suggest places to look! 😉
I think I have figured out how to play with crack and not get addicted. Not sure why, but I’m not so inclined to share so much stuff on Facebook. I have to really be moved by something to post it, and even then there’s a million things that move me that don’t make it. I once thought that blogging and then Facebook were the answers to our missing community, but they’re not. They are exceptionally beautiful systems for talking to people we don’t get to see and touch, but they are not particularly useful for the real anomie of the modern world. If I were trying to sell something or running for office Facebook and Twitter would be ideal, otherwise… short notes every now and then to check in with faceless friends is about all I can muster. I look forward to your updates, John, if and when you make it back to the Facebook world.