I don’t know about you, but I’m just about to the end of my fascination with “social media” in general and Facebook in particular.
Remember a few years back when the TV show “Lost” was all the rage? I was in on the ground floor of that. I watched the first episode and every episode that followed in that first year. I read about it on-line, I taped episodes when I didn’t think I would be there, I discussed it with friends,
Then, in about the second week of the second season, I got up during a commercial break to go use the restroom and just never went back. No, I didn’t have an intestinal problem! I just suddenly realized I was no longer interested. My wife lasted about five more episodes before bailing out as well.
So last month, I took a week off and went into the mountains. No TV, no computer, no internet. Didn’t even take my Kindle with me. I got back and was glad to see my Kindle, tolerated using the phone, watched old shows on DVD on the TV … but I just couldn’t get back into the social media thing.
I think it was because I realized I hated it.
Whenever you see one of those profiles in the paper about some kid that’s been named “Student of the Week” or Athlete of the Week”, there will be a listing of the student’s likes. Three of the four will be drawn from the following list: music, sports, movies or reading. One like will be something obscure, like “Jai-Alai” or “politics”. And then the final one, for every single kid profiled, will be “hanging out with my friends.”
I like that, too. But what I realized is that I like hanging out with REAL friends. People whose hand I can actually shake or, in the case of a phone, at least hear them talk. And when I tell a joke, they actually laugh, instead of responding with “lol”, “rofl” or “PMTLBOLHCMTRMSAIMNSMA” (internet shorthand for “pardon me, that last bout of laughter has caused me to rupture my spleen and I must now seek medical attention”).
And it suddenly occurred to me that I hated the semblance of friendship that Facebook (and Google + and Twitter and so forth) have become. I didn’t mind endless pictures of people’s kids, their vacations, or even web sites supposedly run by their dog. What I hated was that all of these things were like reading about my friends in a magazine. I could no more interact with them than I can with the pretty redhead in the shampoo ad in “Smithsonian”. For both of you who read my screed a couple weeks ago about the disconnection caused by cell phones, you may understand when I say that in becoming connected with more on-line people I was becoming less connected from real, off-line people.
So the time I used to spend on Facebook, I am now going to spend talking to actual people and shaking actual hands. And if anyone sends me a request to work on their farm—a real life farm and not a Farmville ® © farm—I’ll smile and say, “Sure!” (Just kidding, I’ll do what I did for Farmville and ignore them until they invite me to something more pleasant, like a BBQ.)