Today, I am born-again.
I've permanently deactivated my Facebook pages.
I feel like I jumped the barbed-wire at Tehachapi.
It. Feels. Freakin'. Great.
I've wanted to divorce FB for a long time, but stayed mainly because of being part of two writers' groups - one, in fact, for ChicagoNow. But last week I did a cost-benefit analysis, and the negatives far outweighed the positives. It simply was time to go.
Lest you think I've gone full-on Luddite, let me disabuse you. My MacBook still goes with me to the grave. I still adore my mobile, my tablet, my Bose Wave, my electric toothbrush and several other motorized objects in my employ.
But I see virtually no value in so-called social media. It's become increasingly anti-social, and it's a nebulous kind of medium. Mark Zuckerberg, et al, birthed a thing a tad too Orwellian for my taste.
I really hate giving up my privacy. Yeah, I know they say that you can "control" your FB incoming and outgoing, but you really can't. Once you're in it, they already know too much, no matter the filters. And so does everybody else.
I know that Zuckerberg recently committed to making FB a better experience, with more truth, less invasion/targeting and more of "why you came to Facebook in the first place." Problem is, there always will be millions of trolls and lunatics and other assorted ne'er do wells who delight in haunting the platform. More and more every day. Far too many to control in any real, meaningful way. Once opened, Pandora's Box never closes.
I know that for most on it, social media does serve a purpose. Cheap entertainment. Communication with family and friends far-afield. Dissemination of information in times of nefarious international goings-on. A form of connection for the lonely. All of those things are valid, I suppose.
But social media can also be invasive. Duplicitous. It's a lot of v-words: voyeuristic, vacuous, vain, vapid. A high-horse for the braggart, a pulpit for the bully, the Hyde Park Speaker's Corner of the misbegotten.
Yes, I know - you think I speak treason, antiquated hogwash. But know this: social media is the biggest time-suck in history, in the already time-compromised lives of millions. For that reason alone, think of what you and your family could do with all that non-social media time if you dumped it.
There is so much human interaction that generations of people are no longer versed in. Actual verbal conversation, for one. Face-to-face, look 'em in the eye discourse. Lively argument, then agreeing to disagree. Basic conversational civility. Realizing that not every issue is a holy crusade.
There is also something called NOT talking, not chronicling every fart and burp of daily existence, not giving voice and picture to every thought. It's a wonderful thing to be with someone you enjoy and NOT suck up all the air in the room - or online.
One of my favorite songs is by Chicago's Robert Lamm, called Out of the Blue. It's a tribute to his friend, the late Chicago guitarist Terry Kath. But there's an underlying message in the song that I just love:
Shut up and listen, just listen, and magical things can happen.
Cut off social media and try life old-school again. Focus on your head, not what's in everyone else's.
Live a less-artificially connected life, away from a keyboard and a screen.
Stop adding to the "useless conversation in the air."
Breathe. Listen. Create. Live!
(Here's the song. It's really cool - turn it up!)
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Filed under: Social media