Recently, I logged onto WordPress to learn that one of my posts had been “liked” a number of times. While I appreciate that mouse-click of support, I cannot help but be disappointed that the blog world has not escaped the Facebookization of the internet. Now, instead of thinking of a thoughtful comment, all I have to do is click “like” to fulfill that obligation of support for other writers.
I hope you read the sarcasm here because I don’t think this is necessarily a good thing.
When I joined Facebook a few years ago, it was limited to some close family and friends, and I kept it that way for a long time. Over time, as many of us in lesbian blogland have followed one another’s stories, we have become friends on Facebook as well. So many updates happen there, and so many of our readers see what is going on with our families that it seems less important to post on our blogs, and honestly, I’d hazard a guess that many of us have less time for it as well.
I am, unfortunately, quite guilty of replacing my blogging urge with the need to check Facebook. I don’t know why it is so alluring to see that Jane did her twentieth load of laundry today or that Elaine’s daughter puked all over her, or that Martha’s neighbor is once again mowing during naptime. Why do I feel compelled to check on the daily happenings of the 200-ish people who have entered my life at some point in the last thirty seven years in one shape or another? Why do I need to know what is happening in their lives, and why, oh why, do I need to share the trivialities of mine?
I remember it used to be really lovely to find an old high school friend, to exchange a few emails, and then to realize that maybe we don’t have much in common anymore, but gee, wasn’t it great to get in touch with that side of myself again? Now, I know far too many details about people with whom I barely spoke in high school, and they know every time my kid gets sick. My brain certainly doesn’t need this sort of clutter, and neither do theirs.
What I have found, though, is that because I spend energy there, because I’m learning in two-sentence blips all about the latest in Sally’s preschool hunt or because I’m trying to find my own clever quip about what I found at last weekend’s yard sale adventure, I’m not writing thoughtful posts, and I’m barely responding. I too would be inclined to click that damn “like” button that WordPress has been compelled to install. Instead, I do something which isn’t much better and just read and move on.
But I don’t want to just “like” something, and, yes, I’ll admit it, I don’t want to just be “liked.” The beauty of our blog community has always been the dialog we’ve created, the connections we’ve forged, and you just can’t do the same through Facebook blurbs and “likes.” There is something to be said for supporting one another’s efforts with a thoughtful comment, even if those comments come only once a month. Please know that I’m not complaining about you as readers here–I’m just saddened by the whole trend we have toward “liking” and “pinning” and not engaging and communicating. And again, I include myself in this. In fact, I think I’m disappointed most that I have fallen for the allure of the ease and distance with which one can “socialize” via social media.
But truth be told, I hate it. I hate it a lot because I know just how bad it is for me as a writer, as a person with some social anxiety (man this stuff is enabling!), as someone who needs to flit less from one idea/blip/blurb to another and instead spend more time contemplating, mulling, chewing.
I am finding myself wondering increasingly how much longer I will allow myself to use Facebook, how much longer I’ll let it pull me in and clutter my mind. It could be years, or I might shut the whole thing down and take my life back tomorrow. I can’t be sure.
But I’m curious: have you noticed a difference in your own part of the blog world as Facebook and its influence have grown? Would you ever pull the plug on your own Facebook account? (Note that I don’t need advice on this; I’m just curious about where others are with it.) Is there hope for thoughtful dialog, or are we doomed to soundbites?
And now I’m off to share the saga of my broken dishwasher while I check on my second cousin-once-removed’s gall bladder surgery and my fence painter’s latest video of his dog eating cat litter. Because really, what could be more important?