About to post this to Facebook…:
I heard a pundit say the other day that people “are just wandering away” from Facebook. I feel that. The vibe is totally changed, and much of the energy is gone. Pre-Trump, Facebook was an enjoyable place for serious debate on an endless variety of topics. Post-Trump, FB became a place to rally and compare notes about the decline and fall of Western Civilization. But no one can stay in rage mode every day – we become exhausted.
Now it feels like people are just kind of limping along, trying to keep their chins up against an inexplicable and endlessly infuriating backdrop. Then there’s the whole Cambridge Analytica thing, and the ensuing #deletefacebook movement. Three of the Facebook writers/friends I admire most have quit FB over the past month, leaving my stream all the poorer.
Meanwhile, I find myself pining once again for pre-Facebook days, when it was all about blogs aggregated into RSS and FOAF networks. I’ve let my Twitter and Flickr accounts go somewhat stale. I don’t give Quora nearly the amount of time it deserves. Medium is an amazing resource. And the stack of unread magazines and books on the coffee table keeps calling. I think a big part of the appeal of TV shows set in the past (“Call the Midwife,” “The Crown,” etc.) is that they let us spend an hour remembering how different the world was before the internet changed everything, for better and for worse. Lately, I’ve been leaning more toward “for the worse,” which is ironic given my chosen profession, but I can’t escape the conclusion that our culture’s seeming inability to delineate truth from fiction, or to even care when our leaders use lies as a primary currency, or to think rationally as a collective, is largely due to the fact that the nutjobs can now speak on the same playing field as trained professionals.
Meanwhile, it feels like a third of the country views people who just want to maintain common-sense, good-for-humans policies as if they are “leftist radicals” (excuse me now, WHO are the radicals?). Today I did something truly radical: I picked up the damn phone (remember those?) and called an old friend. Sat in the afternoon sun and talked, just like in the olden days. It was truly great.
Lately, the thing that makes me happiest is not having online conversations – it’s rolling through pristine countryside on two wheels. It’s bike season, and the centuries are coming up. That’s where I feel peace, and I get a deeper sense of meaning making a new friend on a bike than I do clicking Like 30 times a day. Late nights, lately I take more pleasure in writing code than in “scrolling the feed” (which is why I’ve been posting less).
This is all a long way of saying I feel increasingly depressed by it all. By the internet in part, but by Facebook’s supremacy in particular. I need a mental health break from this platform. Not unplugging entirely, but needing more diversity of platforms and of voices, and to do more analog reading. I’m returning to my old haunts for a spell. Just deleted FB from my phone (it only takes a second!), and will not visit FB/web for one month (though I’ll probably check in on this post for a day).
See you all soon.