My old blog, “Path to Acacia,” has been detoured, and renamed. Welcome to “Our Wall: The McGowan Family’s Adventures from A(cacia) to Z(innia).” It’s a work in progress, but I hope to keep it going strong for a good long while. I’ve archived all the posts from PTA, added a few pages at the header, and have begun uploading my photos into a Flickr gallery, previewed right.
Why the blog resurgence? It started the day I was catching up with an old friend, and realized that everything she was telling me was something I already knew. In other words, a very chatty acquaintance named Facebook had already beat her to the punch in giving me all the latest news in her life.
Then, as another friend announced her pregnancy, I noted how many “likes” she got, versus actual, sincere comments. A “like.” The same reaction one might give to a picture of someone’s pretty-looking mixed drink. I thought back to when I was pregnant with Zin, pre-Facebook Boom. I had the pleasure of telling everyone face-to-face that we were expecting. There were a few transfers through the grapevine, of course, but for the most part, I shared word of my pregnancy in the flesh.
As for sharing big news in a real-time feed… it can be strange to read someone’s important announcement at an unexpected time. Like, an engagement status when perhaps you just had a squabble with your spouse. Or a picture of the first ultrasound while your kids are currently driving you batty. Instead of feeling joy for a friend’s happy occasion, the sentiment gets lost in the momentous reaction of, “Heh, good luck with that.” Or, if you’ve just had rough day at the office, that gloating pic of your co-worker lounging in the Caribbean could induce some bitterness, versus seeing her come back the following week with a tan and a stack of photos.. in a setting where you can genuinely share her excitement.
So, I started considering how Facebook truly fit into my life. I belong to a couple of groups on there, and it serves as a great forum in that respect. But beyond that, why was social media leaving me feeling rather anti-social? Why was I finding myself mindlessly logging on, and mindlessly scrolling through the feed, silent in my reactions to everything from new engagements, to baby milestones, to pictures of peoples pets, to self-depreciating accounts of public embarrassment? I almost felt like I should give it up, considering that every 5 minute increment of time in my busy, child-rearing life can easily be filled with a Facebook fix, and often is out of sheer convenience, and not a desire to “waste” time.
Well, then I came across THIS ARTICLE: Is Facebook Making Us Lonely? which really summed it all up. Gotta love the author’s quote:
“When I scroll through page after page of my friends’ descriptions of how accidentally eloquent their kids are, and how their husbands are endearingly bumbling, and how they’re all about to eat a home-cooked meal prepared with fresh local organic produce bought at the farmers’ market and then go for a jog and maybe check in at the office because they’re so busy getting ready to hop on a plane for a week of luxury dogsledding in Lapland, I do grow slightly more miserable. A lot of other people doing the same thing feel a little bit worse, too.”
The author calls what I was referring to earlier (reading people’s updates at “off” times) as “passive consumption.” In turn, as we digest what other people are projecting, we are simultaneously, subconsciously figuring out how we want to project ourselves. The question is, how honest is the projection? JUST last week I made reference to baking gourmet food and going for a long, picturesque run… in the same freakin’ sentence! Am I always working out (and enjoying it!) and then rewarding myself with sweet, homemade delicacies? I’d sure like to be, but in reality, I’m eating toast and sitting at the computer with the rest of ya. Some were guilty of the play-by-play of every, typical day in the beginning of the Facebook surge, but I believe the novelty wore off enough for OCD posting to die down within that first year. Either that, or I’ve since blocked the friends who practiced such habits. 🙂
So… what to do? I’m pretty convinced (if not by my own mind, then by the article that validated it), that I’m better off steering in another direction when it comes to media and its social purposes. Do I rebel and become one of those (gasp!) anti-Facebook people? I could… but then I’d be depriving myself of all the GOOD that Facebook can offer.
I am calculated in my choice to skip the smartphone, because I already feel more plugged in than I’d like to be. I don’t need something else to distract me from the current moment, and my life doesn’t require such connections right now (that, and I don’t want the bill). The parody of human society depicted in the movie “WALL-E” is pretty spot on of my opinion, with humans in the not-so-distant future literally living life through a screen. But, if I’m home, and the laptop is always accessible, well then how is it any different than checking a device in my pocket?
My solution: Unsubscribe from everyone’s updates, but leave my account in tact. What this does, funny enough, is turn Facebook into MySpace, sans the customizable backgrounds. And if you think back to MySpace, a browsing session had a finite end. You’d log on, edit your own page, perhaps visit a few friend’s “spaces,” make a blog post every so often, and be done. It still served the purpose of connection, yet you were in control of your navigation. Instead of watching the world fly by from the window seat of the bus, I’m now back to being the driver.
Sound silly? Perhaps a little too over-thought? I would agree. 🙂 But, in my new life as a mom of two, I have a lot of time to think. When I say “new life,” it’s not an exaggeration. The addition of Acacia was a big change for us all, but my norm has since done a 180. Instead of working the 40+ hr. week by day, and coming home to my family at night, I spend my days with two little munchkins, and work evenings in an empty office. In other words, Monday through Thursday, I don’t see a lot of people over the age of 3. It’s tempting, and often essential, to tap into the outside world with a click of the mouse. It has become too easy for me to get lost in all the Facebook eye-candy, so I’ve resorted to putting up some barriers for my own benefit. Again, I’m purposely not shutting out the whole method of communication… I just want to be more deliberate in how I use such communication.
Since disabling my feed, I’ve been reading the news at breakfast much more regularly. I’ve been spending less time commenting on the lives of people I may or may not know very well, and spending more time engaging in things that are important to me. I’m better focused on the kids, my husband, my interests, and all those little things that can get done around the house before the weekend hits. By no means do I think that everyone should follow suit… nor do I dis those friends who use the leading social sites to successfully keep themselves in the loop. I just know that it’s a question worth asking yourself (if you’re an avid user): Is Facebook Making Us Lonely? If you believe it’s not, continue on feeding yourself with feed. If it is, explore other social connections (like blogging?). If you’re not sure, read that article… it’s really good and I believe it holds a lot of truth.
As for this blog….
I still want a place to share stuff, and I think it’s a better method of record keeping for me. No one really knows the future of Facebook, either. Will those timelines always be accessible? I therefore resurrect “Path to Acacia” into “Our Wall,” as a substitution for updating my own Facebook “wall.” I welcome you to subscribe, drop in, or even lurk here without notice. Whatever your style.