Facebook Junkie

July 11, 2012 § 5 Comments

Not that I am one. But it is very addictive ~ not just facebook, but the whole onslaught of electronic activity in this 21st century.

I have great curiosity about how this is shaping our communicative landscape, and what it will look like in 50 years. We already see some of the effects ~ both negative and positive ~ like kids who seem to be intravenously fed via texting, don’t feel comfortable making “phone calls”, look to facebook or videos as relief from a slow social calendar or just plain boredom instead of the wealth of creativity or mental prowess that might otherwise be exercised towards unknown potentials.

Plato’s quote comes to mind “Necessity is the mother of invention” … Anyone? What’s wrong with a little boredom?

On the other hand, there’s also an (academically) educational factor that could be very promising for young and old alike  ~ and adults are certainly not excluded from the pros and cons in this habit-forming mix.

Take the spouse who comes home from work to find their partner and children engrossed, each in separate worlds, on their computers, greeted with a nod … perhaps not even. The walking texters, yakking commuters, with no real comprehension of the world around them. (It’s true, you know it is.)

Or the cell phone rings – no matter where, with whom, it gets answered like an itch that has to be scratched. I personally feel that those itches would be better treated more like the dinnertime rule in our house ~ the phone rings during dinner, it doesn’t get answered (with the exception of emergencies), because who we are with and what we are doing then and there is what’s important, not to mention that this is what voicemail was invented for. It can wait. (Even before answering machines and voicemail – the idea was that they could call back!) Yet we are, as a society, getting pulled in to the point of nearly constant distraction.

I have never been a wildly social being ~ and by this I don’t mean that I don’t enjoy human company, but I’m pretty particular about who I want to spend my time with. As an artist and a writer, quiet, solitary time is part of the deal. So when I come out of the creative cave, I want it to be worth my while, and since that’s not always something you can have “on command”, I do enjoy some stand-in connections with friends online. It’s a great way (for both the outgoing and the introverted) to keep in touch non-intrusively, to share with a bunch of people at one time and see some of “what’s going on out there”.  I’ve also met some really wonderful people I’d never have met otherwise, and reunited with people from years ago whom I may not have guessed I’d find so compelling later in life. And what’s more, I find social media, facebook and blogging in particular, to be a fantastic business tool.

But none of this replaces human contact; the snarky, knowing smile, the understanding eyes, the hug, the shared laughter in real time in real body. And whether we are engaged productively or distracted emotionally, the more we use these electronic tools, the more we behave like slaves to this virtual world and the less we share real life ~ and the more that that becomes real life.

For good or bad ~ it’s a place to share, a tool for expanding one’s knowledge (google it!!), a big fat time waster for the bored and does not make us better communicators ~it’s not going away, (nor do we want it to) and maneuver it we must. Like most things, it’s a matter of how we choose to respond and interact.

The other day I took some time to lie on the grass and look up through the trees, something I did a lot as a kid, too, so maybe it’s just a character trait. In any event, it was close to my favorite time of day, which is late afternoon/early evening when the sun starts to set, leaving long, lovely, lingering shadows juxtaposed by light both brilliant and calm, verging on mystical.

And I found myself silently asking a potentially future someone, I suppose ……. “Did you ever look up at giant oaks in the late afternoon sun, through all the leaves and intertwining branches and wonder, really wonder, at all the shades of green? Did you ever wonder how the grass grows and how many kinds of grasses grow and how they all feel different between your toes? Have you ever listened, really, really listened, to the birds singing their songs? Have you heard the symphony of a summer night, with pure and undivided attention? Have you seen the hearts of people walking about in a busy city, have you felt their very humanity?”

I can worry that we’ll stop “living”, become unwittingly caged in a made-up world with perfect temperature control.

But for now, these are merely observations. And really, none of this was what I’d intended when starting this little essay… which has now become lengthy.

I meant to simply share some of the things you might be missing on my 2 Facebook pages (and look where that idea took us!) They’re much more “snippety” than a blog post, kind of “instant inspiration”, and despite my conflicting feelings expressed above, this is an area where I feel the electronic world is put to good use without killing my, or anyone else’s, time with nonsense, or over-dulling the brain. The world is fast-paced, and as much I’d love to slow it down, sometimes a “quick uplift” does wonders. So, if you’re not on my pages (although, yes, I wish you were… see the like buttons on the top right side of this blog page, hint, hint…), here’s the sampling I started out intending to post.

And now I’ll suggest you go take a break ~ shut the computer off and grab a friend or watch the sunrise or listen to the crickets or play in the dirt. : )


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§ 5 Responses to Facebook Junkie

  • Rand MacIvor says:

    Smiling snarkely…


  • fashiondate002 says:

    Your blog and you are super pretty!!! Following you as you are really interesting!!


  • melissa says:

    This is an important piece and beautifully written, Pat. I think it is necessary to stop and reflect on the changes here and now and what they mean for the future. I love the idea of lying in the grass and staring at the sky. And here’s an interesting thing – a college friend, whom I haven’t spoken to in many, many years, “friended” me on facebook. I was so happy that she found me and I wrote her a note immediately. That was several weeks ago and I haven’t heard back. What does that mean? Why would she want to “friend” me in the first place if she really doesn’t want to reconnect? What is a facebook friend anyway? Something to think about …


    • saxtonstudio says:

      Thank you, Melissa. As for “what is a facebook friend? ~ my experience is that it can be many things, not unlike “real life”. For some it’s a meaningful connection they nurture, for some it’s a popularity poll. Some people are better at keeping in touch, some just aren’t very good at it ~ and that doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t care, it just doesn’t get from thought to typepad. With facebook there’s the added layer of it being “public”, making some people more reticent about sharing than others. Then there are some who are online “all the time” and some who don’t go on for weeks on end.

      I understand how you feel in the case of your old college friend ~ because to you and I, a reply would, at the very least, be courteous. But lest we become too accustomed to this instant world, I also wouldn’t jump to judgment, as there could be any number of reasons – real world demands, not knowing how to navigate online very well, not realizing she has a message (this does happen!). Or she could have simply and honestly liked knowing you’re there, whether or not anything comes of it. My advice ~ spend a few minutes feeling disappointed or confused and then move along with people you’re more tuned in with!


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