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Several years ago I used to write with great consistency in my live journal. It was a rare day that I didn't write at least a few sentences in it and sometimes my posts were long, thoughtful and invited some interesting commentary.

Sometimes they were silly...when I worked at the movie theater I wrote what sort of "drummer boy" day it was.

Back in the early days LJ was spread by invite only. I was gifted my account via my older brother and thought carefully before deciding to whom I would pass along my own invites. My sister got onboard along with a few choice friends and it was fun and intimate. I felt like I had a fun little online group.

I did branch out and seek new friends ... but for the most part my LJ friends were much more my intimates. I wrote for myself but I also wrote for them.

I quit writing as regularly five years ago... some heartaches that were much, much too hard to write about combined with the fact my mom had started a journal. While I did have various privacy settings I realized that I was writing much less honestly and freely about things with my mother online.

Flash forward a few years and I find myself on Facebook. I had heard about it and hadn't thought much but when my friends from art school contacted me and told me everybody from my class was jumping on I thought it would be a wonderful way to keep in contact with my friends from school.
When I first started my account I was exceedingly startled at just how MANY people FB connected me with. Very quickly my group of friends grew and it was always a little thrill to "friend" someone I hadn't thought about in a very long time.

People from high school showed up like popcorn. I felt like part of a roving reunion gang. "Hey, what happened to this person?!" and then the group mind would track them down and drag them online.
I now have friends from growing up, art school, high school, my mission, from my movie theater days, people I know in San Francisco, people from church... to say it is overwhelming would be an understatement.

I wonder about kids today when they go off to school. One of the biggest "growing up" I think people do is when they leave home and go off... they get to reinvent themselves, discover who they are and stretch and grow in ways that are hard in their old environment. I wonder if it is harder to move on in your life when you are constantly reporting in to people from your past.

And boy is there a lot of reporting. Songs people are listening to, tweets from the bathroom, dumps from their camera, what interesting ways they laced their shoes that day, videos of kittens, pithy things about God, pithy things about people that believe in God, thought on the jerk who just cut you off... we are ridiculously connected.

I am very guilty of this.
I post pictures of my cat because it is easy.
I +1 like articles because all I have to do is press a button and it is uploaded to my FB account. Probably nobody reads anything past the headline.
I make little witty comments on various statuses because it costs me nothing to make them. I am contributing to the connective noise.

All of this communication, all of this bulla from so many circles of my life and it has become meaningless. My facebook page is like white noise I have to sift through to find the choice nuggets. Everybody is talking and nobody is saying anything.

I sound like the online equivalent of the grumpy "get off my lawn!" old man.

There are of course exceptions to this. Sometimes somebody says something really important as to what is going on in their life. Sometimes somebody will post a picture that will make me catch my breath. Sometimes a video is posted that makes me laugh my head off.

There are silver linings. I am closer to my siblings...I have reconnected with cousins I haven't seen for almost 2 decades...I recently found a long lost friend from my North Carolina days. We moved just before my 9th birthday. I am finding friends that I had assumed were lost forever.

How do you make sure these reconnections don't just get folded into the noise...or do you have to acknowledge this will happen? It's like being in the middle of a raging tornado...and some things are brought into focus....and then pulled back out into the storm again. We flicker in and out of people's lives in the real world... should our online worlds be any different?

Maybe I am just feeing overly thoughtful because we are galloping into the darkness of winter.

I am increasingly hiding people's status updates...I don't want to necessarily unfriend them because I may need to get in contact with them later, but I don't need to read yet another status update talking about how the Flying Spaghetti Monster is on par with Jesus.

I have friends that I consider so dear I would rather unfriend them on Facebook and communicate with them strictly through the mail.

"I care about you enough that I do not want you to know the minutia of my life. Give me your address and I will write you a letter."

Who wouldn't prefer a letter from an old friend? Wouldn't that have much, much more weight than "Dude! Check out this clip from Modern Family! LOL" ?

I'm not sure I have a point to this entry except these are things I have been thinking.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
saintswife
Nov. 4th, 2010 05:44 am (UTC)
It is a similar situation to what we are encountering - like you mentioned, your kids go off to college and hopefully learn to stand on their own feet.

We are there. And we aren't constantly calling her, or keeping tabs on her - deliberately. It is hoped that she will find solutions for whatever issues and problems she encounters and grow from it.

As it is, we still have Facebook - and she texts us nearly daily.

I worry about the sheer amount of time she spends on Facebook - how will she be getting school work done? But it will be a lesson learned when grades come in (hopefully).

So yeah. Trying to stand back.
jatg
Nov. 5th, 2010 05:36 am (UTC)
I consider it a blessing actually that I went to school so far away. Made me miss my family. My mom would always gift me with phone cards with minutes I would treat like gold. When I used it it was because I really needed my mommy.
marialuminous
Nov. 4th, 2010 07:31 am (UTC)
I agree. I hide a lot of people's facebook posts. I will never have the time for real life or for meaningful conversation if I take the time to read about everybody's quiz results and every youtube link. It's a constant stream of mostly meaningless drivel, but I keep reading it because somewhere in there is an announcement that my best friend from grade school just gave birth.
firynze
Nov. 4th, 2010 01:31 pm (UTC)
The Age of Information can be overwhelming, and you're quite right - the signal-to-noise ratio is less than favourable for deep, personal interactions.

It makes me a little sad.
jatg
Nov. 5th, 2010 05:37 am (UTC)
I think of Contact with the meaningful signal embedded in the static.
firynze
Nov. 5th, 2010 01:11 pm (UTC)
That's a perfect analogy.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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