I resisted Facebook for a long time. I joined in a few years ago more out of a need to keep connected with students and other individuals, people who refuse to use email for some odd reason. They have no problem leaving a Facebook message, but can’t be bothered to send an email. Email was supposed to be the modern mailbox, a place that is uniquely you. Now, your email has almost as much meaning as your mailbox. It is more for junk than real communication. Go figure.
Only recently I jumped into Twitter. I haven’t gotten into Instigram or a few of the other burgeoning social networks. I have an odd, disquieting feeling about them.
For years I have managed some form of website. For the past few years I have had a blog. I find these things to be wonderful tools for disseminating information. Well, at least they are easy ways to deposit information. Getting that information out to others, real dissemination, is another matter.
While I use Facebook and Twitter, and even Pintrest, I have a huge concern with the social networking trend, and trending is the concern. Sites of the social networking nature pay a great deal of unreal value; likes, retweets, and other pats on the back. These watered down accolades are supposed to indicate some sort of value, not only to the item, but to the individual that put it forward as well.
You may use social sites to bolster your social circles and to improve your self image. Getting those likes and retweets provides a good feeling, at least it is supposed to. But can they really do that when the next day they leave you adrift? You might come up with some smash hit meme that rocks Facebook today, but tomorrow you will be back at square one. The value you created the day before has no meaning. It is used, consumed, and discarded. It is a consumerism approach to our thoughts. Is that how we choose to value people and ideas? We used to remember where people lived. Then we remembered their email address. Now we are reminded of them only if they happen to flit by.
And after you have spent all your time typing in your ideas and thoughts, posting images and videos, you come to realize that you don’t really have access to them. You talk with a friend months later who did not see something funny that you posted, and you have to spend a good deal of time digging back through your time line in order to find that funny picture, if it can be found at all. Like a leaf on a river, it is apparent the moment you drop it in, and soon gone.
And as so often happens the bluster over the social site begins to die down. Facebook is little more than MySpace was. Who owns a MySpace page anymore? Someday Facebook will be some forgotten space, eaten up by Instagram or RedIt, or who knows what. What of all your work, all those pictures and all that prose that you poked into the old system? It is theirs, and you cannot really do much about it. That is their hook; leave us and you lose what you have done.
My blog is mine. I can keep it, move it, share it, hide it, archive it, or close it. It will go with me however I choose. My posts are also like leaves, and time does push them a little. But they are unlike leaves on a river, quickly swallowed up by a rushing tide of trendy competition. My posts are retained, sorted, categorized, indexed, and nurtured. Each leaf connects to a twig, which connects to a branch, which connects to the trunk that is me.
Should I want to show a friend a post they did not see, it is easily found no matter how long ago is was set upon the waters. The time line becomes more like a breeze, moving the leaf from one branch to another, rather than sending it on down the river to a distant place where it can no longer be seen.
Value should not be transient, at least not the value of our thoughts and ideas. Proper or not, our new thoughts bud out of our older ones. They take new directions, or strengthen the same branch and push it further outward.
This all may seem quite obvious to you, dear reader. But do you succumb to the system? Do you devote more time to Facebook or Twitter than to your own space? When was the last time you emailed someone, much less wrote a letter? Do you keep a diary, a journal, a blog? If you do not keep a diary or blog, but you do keep an active Facebook page or Twitter account, who are you writing for? Clearly not for your progeny, as the time line will wash away all that you say long before your great-greats exist.
People are not trends.