sound and fury signifying nothing …

I certainly wasn’t an early adopter of Facebook – not in a global sense, definitely, although, perhaps, amongst my peers, I was one of the first to stare into the abyss of the world’s most highly monetized relationship database (I’m from Australia, in case you forgot, where some things take a little longer to catch on …. like Vegemite with Americans … lightly spread on toast with lots of butter).

I’ve been on it for maybe five years, and relatively active too, and now, after collecting a whole pile of friends i’ve never met, reconnecting with people i ceased to have anything in common with more than three decades ago, and watching the lives of people i either don’t know, don’t care to know or can’t be seen to know cascade before me like a storm of well-intentioned but manic locusts, i’ve drawn the conclusion that, for me, the cost-benefit ratio of engagement with Facebook is definitely well out-of-whack.

So i suspended my account four weeks ago, and have barely thought about it since.

Of course, it messes with my sense of self-importance to realise that I’m just another in a string of people with a minimal social-media footprint to ask the almost inevitable WTF? But in all fairness to myself, maybe that’s the whole point.

Social media has, to a certain extent, resulted in a level of celebrity that has more to do with early adoption and gaming the system than with making any particularly significant social contribution (that is not directly linked to one’s social graph).

(and yes, i understand there are many exceptions to the rule … broad sweeping generalisations are always dangerous … including this one)

In many regards you could be forgiven for thinking that ‘social media’ is a meme perpetrated by Fox Media, where the lines between fantasy and reality have become so blurred that the very idea of edutainment has become an adequate defense against the entirely reasonable concerns raised about the influence that the uninformed can bring to bear upon society when provided with the right platform (i care much less for freedom of speech than i do for minimising the impact of irresponsible, unaccountable communication upon society at large … the Glenn Becks of the world need to be kept off the air in service to all beings …)

but, as usual, i digress …

Discerning signal from noise is one of the key preoccupations for all people these days – and with Facebook in particular, the noise to signal ratio is unacceptably high.

I’m sure I’m going to be told that I’m missing something … and unquestionably, my clients (who have either pages or groups) are going to wonder if i sent them down a rabbit hole with a ferret in pursuit. My point is not that there is something fundamentally wrong with Facebook, but that, for me, i just don’t really see the point.

Somehow, FB, as with most social networks, fails to respect the nuance of human relationship.

Our connections are complex and sophisticated. We’re not all friends.

We’re just not …

Relationships are not only contextual, they change over time. You may be my ‘friend’ at work, but you may not even make the New Years Eve SMS list … you may be my Rabbi, but I may not want you to see my comments on a post on the use of ecstacy in treating PTSD … you may be my father-in-law, but I may not want you dig into my commentary on the collapse of the nuclear family ….

Hopefully you get my point.

A 2D social network with atomic permissions, where I can stipulate exactly what you can and can’t see, where my relationship with you as wife, lover, business partner, colleague, friend, long-lost-friend, fight-club partner, employee, benign stalker – or combination of these – determines only the first level of interactivity, would be much more representative of my experience in 3D.

Ultimately, however, I’ve come to the conclusion that every minute I spend online, is a minute I’m not spending interacting in the real world. The random connections in coffee shops, railway stations and bookshops seem to be slowly whittled away … i just can’t talk to you across the table if i’m checking my Facebook account, tweeting or blogging (irony noted …).

The rise of the social network and its corresponding ability to push out blipverts has somehow co-opted, hijacked or interfered with our interest in and availability for genuine connection.

a koan might be good for 140 characters, but if we even attempt to compress our interactions to the intentionally brief and frequently glib ‘push’ that most social media permits us, we miss the opportunity for genuine dialog and, dare i say it, love.

5 Comments on “sound and fury signifying nothing …”

  1. Sounds like you had too many FB "friends". If you keep it limited to people you do care to know about – and who really care to know about you then the signal to noise ration dramatically improves. Of course that means you have to say no to friend requests sometimes, which can be awkward (particularly when they come from professional contacts in your industry). The best friend request rejection I ever got politely explained that they kept their Facebook private for close friends and family and that if I would like to stay in touch here were their full contact details and their LinkedIn. I was so impressed that I now copy their strategy.

    1. Hey Sally;

      I've actually found that taking a considered break from it for a period of time has supported resetting the relationship with Facebook from a social-media obligation, to a simple and effective way to remain in communication with core groups of people.

      Will be writing about that soon, once i've spent a little time reconfiguring my account.

      Open Forum sounds like an interesting project; will be in touch about it in the New Year.

  2. Well my dear brother,
    after reading your thoughts on FB, once again I find myself sitting humbly and smiling, the same way that I have for over 20 years at different times throughout our friendship… so now that you have disengaged from FB how do I communicate to you to have a Happy NYE and express other random things that I do….. I do agree with the majority of your thoughts, however knowing from experience the extreme nature we have, maybe a holiday from FB is good. Anyway I know that you have been trying to contact me to share with me all the happiness and joys of the festive season and have not been able to because I have no email account anymore….. so this is Jodie's email address if you feel like talking…. by the way where are you and do you have skype now???

  3. Why don't you speak about the true Facebook private politics ? It's absolutely impossible to delete an account !! They collect all your datas and will never delete them… Personnaly, i just hate FB.

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