Taking Up Space

There are times I feel like I have a dependency, as if I have no control over things my brain craves in an almost physical sense. Facebook. Yes, Facebook.  I swore it off for a while and it was not hard to do.  Not hard to do cold turkey.  I did the same with cigarettes ten years ago.

But, then, sampling just a little of Facebook after a period of abstinence reconfigured my neurons and made it impossible to limit myself to small doses.  Oh, I did limit my use for a while, but it was not long.  After I returned for a visit, before many days passed, I was unable to leave for long.  I had to go back.  It’s absurd, of course; to think one can get so wrapped up in a social media website.  But it seems to have a root in reality. And I hate it.  So, what’s the difference between dependency and addiction?  I must look into that.  In the meantime, I confront it head on.  The first thing: reconfigure my blog so that it does not auto-post to Facebook.  Small steps.

I hate Facebook.  Not for what it is, but for what it reveals about some people, maybe for what it might reveal about me.  It shreds one’s facade and lays bare an inescapable neediness.  A need to be seen, recognized, appreciated, known.  It’s not so much a need for attention as it is a thirst for acknowledgement, a desire to be acknowledged as relevant and meaningful.  That may be the problem, of course; we can’t all be relevant and meaningful; some of us are just here, taking up space.


About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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6 Responses to Taking Up Space

  1. jserolf says:

    I’ve limited “friends” and I’ve culled them, too — even on a weekly basis, and it always seems to go back to the same old garbage heap. If you get more friends, the heap gets bigger faster.

    If you try to stay small (which I have done), you’ll get picked up by someone else that your brother or sister or that someone in that small group knows, because you’ll eventually post to their site and somewhere down the line the slip-up will happen, and you get some smiling face asking to “friend me.”

    Last time I decided to take in only “foreign friends,” but the only thing different about that is that the heap is a different color — maybe.

    We are all wallowing around in our own refuse: Not that there’s anything wrong with that 😉

  2. Maybe the key to making Facebook, or any social media site, an acceptable alternative to the tribal campfire (the campfire is preferable, but the flames are dangerously impractical over long distances!) is to actively minimize the size of the social circle. Facebook and Google+ both have tools to enable me, for example, to limit my circles, but they are cumbersome and not at all intuitive. The most effective ways to minimize the size of the circle is also the hardest; just “de-friend” or “un-circle” people. The “old” technologies that allowed me to join special interest discussion groups may have been a bit better at allowing me to focus, but they were not the “tribal” experiences so many of us are seeking. I sometimes daydream about gathering like-minded people into a communal compound in some isolated, near-wilderness and creating a modern-day utopia. I guess that would more appropriately be called a fantasy, not a daydream.

  3. Juan says:

    I love Robin’s expression “talks around tribal campfires, but those times are long gone. Facebook’s machinery is no replacement for that campfire.”

  4. Thanks, Juan. I feel the same; I have been losing myself and becoming the collective, an altogether unacceptable situation. Your sister is right, but so are you. And letters…I miss reading them and writing them. I’ve been talking about returning to my old, old habit of writing long, rambling letters to friends; maybe you’ve given me the impetus I need. I suppose we’ll see. Watch your mailbox…but not too closely, or too soon! 😉

  5. Juan says:

    I love this line from you: “Not for what it is, but for what it reveals about some people, maybe … about me… lay[ing] bare an inescapable neediness.”

    “Am I so needy? Do I need some sense or form of authentication?”

    The fear is that I was becoming more like the collective than myself – and I am still on the search for “myself.” That road may never end – and rightfully so!

    FB is the Elysian fields of Ulysses.

    So, my sister says to me, “John, you have to get back on, because we are posting pictures of our family.” I actually miss that, but I miss more the kind of letters I used to get before there was Facebook – letters that were typed or handwritten, and that were written in depth. I suppose it’s why I admire your blogs, John. They have depth.

    So, where’s the deep water these days?

    I think I’ll use FB like a summer vacation – only returned to when summer breaks come, and that I should go when the break goes, too. So, maybe I’ll be back on in July, and then maybe – thanking my lucky stars – I won’t…..ever!

  6. robin andrea says:

    Something happened about a month or so ago that made me feel less interested in Facebook. I still read it often, but I’ve pretty much stopped posting there. I think it was their change in algorithm that finally made me see it for what it is, and see myself for what I want. What I mean is that Facebook is just a silly website that started out as a good idea and wound up being a money machine for its creators. What I wanted was a social connection to like-minded friends, where we could share and discuss our perceptions of the world and times in which we live. I do romanticize the past and would have preferred to have these talks around tribal campfires, but those times are long gone. Facebook’s machinery is no replacement for that campfire. A virtual community is hardly a community at all. That realization made it much easier for me to walk away. I still love blogging because it takes time, consideration, thoughtfulness, creativity, and effort.

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