Thursday, November 19, 2009

Why I'm Not on Facebook

Years ago I read a short sci-fi story in which a young man was tired of living in his isolated apartment, only connected to the rest of the world by sophisticated tech, not unlike our internet today. He "called" his mother to tell her he was coming for a visit. She was shocked and tried to talk him out of it. Apparently in this world, it was very dangerous outside. Whole systems had been set up to keep people safe and in their homes - food was delivered to them and lots of other needs were provided by robots. Outside was a warzone. The poor and destitute of the world lived out there, fighting for survival.

Anyway, I don't remember what happened to the young man in the story, but sometimes I think real life is resembling this story all too well. Sure we can "talk" to someone halfway across the world at the click of a key(Hi Annette!), but I would much prefer a hug from that person (Annette gives good hug!). We can rack up the "friends" on social networking sites, but how many of those people would come watch your kids in the middle of the night when you have a medical emergency, or bring you dinner when you feel too blue to cope. How many do you know well enough to confide your deepest fears to?

I recently read an amazing article by a therapist who felt her work was adding to the problem of disconnection rather than helping. People can go talk for an hour with a professional, unload their cares, and then head back out there, just as alone as before. Wouldn't you rather have a friend drop by for tea to share your troubles and joys with? I would.

But Miranda, you say, you are here blogging, sharing with complete strangers. Why not Facebook, too? I admit, it is rather hypocritical of me to be lamenting the inadequacy of online community while secretly thrilling to all the hits and comments I have gotten in the last few days. But I am planning and scheming of ways to boost my IRL connections.

I have a local unschooling support group parkday each week and that has been great. We have had a few weeks of hiatus from that as we sort out our winter plans and I have missed it so much. We have been going to the homeschool ice skating, but that does not lend itself to very much connection, if you want to skate and your friend doesn't. But sometimes once a week is not quite enough.

I love this house and the land but I do wish I were just a tiny bit closer to neighbors. Or at least that I knew my neighbors. I'm not so good about just marching up and ringing a doorbell and saying hi. Must work on that. C can help. He is the social butterfly of the marriage!

Anyway, I have been thinking about starting a monthly Studio Night and inviting my friends to come hang out in my basement art/craft/sewing room and be creative together. I think it would be great fun and I can't wait to get it started. Just gotta get the studio finished!

Bottom line, I want more real life "face" time with people, not just Facebook "friends". I want to spend my time getting to know the people around me better, not "meeting" people from far flung places who I'll never meet for real. And it just makes me sad when I think of the people I already feel connected to who are far away and I really wish they were closer. The last thing I need is to feel closer to someone who is never going to be sitting across the table from me sharing a cuppa and our life's stories.


ZZZ said...

Miranda, I identify and agree with everything you say here. I am on facebook, but it seems to only make the social isolation i feel worse. Especially when it comes to reading other folks posts about all the cool things they got to do _with local friends_. But the hard part is finding folks that like to do what you do, and here's the killer, have or make time to do them with you. Got any tips for that?

Miranda said...

Hi Z! All I can say is if you build it, they will come. It has worked for me for park days, and I am hoping it works for the studio night. Just set something up and go do it, no matter who joins you. And make it regular, so people can plan for it. It might take a while, so don't give up. I know it will be worth it in the end!

Annette said...

Your Studio Nights sound like a lot of fun and a great way to connect. I'm glad we've had a chance to share some IRL community in the past, and I'm grateful for the internet to allowing our friendship to continue until we can again share a hug and chat over a cuppa!

I definitely hear what you're saying. I recently rejoined facebook just as an easier way to keep in touch with my nieces. When I was on fb before, it seemed like such a waste of time to read many totally trivial comments when I could actually be connecting with my kids and doing something real. Yes I have a blog, but more as a journal for myself and a way to keep in touch with people I already have met irl.

A lot of people do rely on the internet for a sense of community, of belonging. Maybe it's a good thing that it exists. Maybe it's science fiction becoming fact? Gosh, we think we're so bloody smart because of all of the technological advancements in the last 20 years. Why am I seeing so much info about and new programs for people suffering from depression? Something's definitely not working and a lot of it stems from the fact that we are just not meant to live in isolation. We NEED each other. It's much easier to control people when they are not living in strong communities though hey?

Tara @ TheOrganicSister said...

I'm not on Facebook because I don't need another thing to do online. And I don't see the point of 'connecting' with people I already know thereinstead of real life. I do like blogging and being on Twitter because I'm meeting *new* people, many of whom we plan to meet "for reals" once we're on the road. All these long distance friendships are different for sure, but rewarding in their own way. And sometimes I'm too overwhelmed by stimuli to head out but need that connection. No, still not the same as face time, but good in it's own way, as long as it doesn't turn us into a sci-fi book! ;)

I am seriously anticipating getting up to see you and meet Hillary in Ithaca. She's one of those people I most look forward to meeting and I can't wait to hug you again! Hope you'll get those Studio Nights running by then!

flowers said...

Huge facebook advocate here. lol.

I agree with all of your points, but I also love social media. It works out all very unschoolish to me.

I get way into my facebook community and then I wake up one day and wish I had closer real life connections. so I call people up and start inviting them over and turn off the computer. It balances out.

What I love about facebook is that I keep up with people who I never would without out. Old friends from my travel abroad experience, cousins, aunts and uncles who I would only see and talk to once a year, but now we're sapping jokes and asking each other what camera we use.

I also get to peak into my brothers lives and see the jokes they swap with their friends.

To me it adds to something that wouldn't be there. It's not like I was going to start talking with a particular person on the phone regularly or suddenly start flying to DC to see that old friend. But now I know who their dating, how they feel, what their job is like.

Just a little defense from the facebook world. lol.

(I just had a local irl friend tell me they'll never understand why someone would EVER want to blog about their life. lol.)

There's something for everyone!

Tara, I can't wait to meet you too!