Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Facebook: Lessons in Connecting and in Enough

This year I'm learning about connecting, and I'm learning when enough is enough. And participating in the wacky world of Facebook has helped me learn a little of both.


1. On Facebook, I'm connected to
* people I don't really remember from high school,
* people I didn't know well in high school,
* people who are friends with my siblings,
* children of people who know my siblings,
* my parents' former students (and their children and grandchildren),
* people my parents once knew professionally,
* people I once knew well but am geographically distant from,
* people I never knew well but felt a connection to when we shared geography or interests,
* and various categories of people I've never met in real life (many of them writers).
* Oh, and people I call/ed friends back before Facebook.
* And acquaintances in real life.
Many of these kinds of connections are equivalent to walking down the hall in high school saying "hi" to people you vaguely know. Which is great. Plennnnty, in fact, much of the time.

2. Conversations on Facebook can be interesting, especially when people take the time to think about what they're saying and don't use someone's news feed like an instant message. But boy that LIKE button is also handy: it says "I see you over here saying something" quickly; a sort of "yep but gotta go" or "great; glad to hear it" equivalent. It's pretty easy to register the fact that people are having a political or religious discussion and tiptoe past. And I wouldn't survive elections if it weren't for the HIDE function.

3. People, however well you know them, respond with enthusiasm when your comment is about THEM and THEIR interest in a photo/video/quote/observation/status. Perhaps unsurprisingly, people are less interested when you post a photo of YOURSELF in your comment on the item they've shared--even if it's related. (NB this is also true in real life, which I keep forgetting. I keep thinking that people who say "what do you think?" really want to know.) People also enjoy POSITIVE comments, not comments that are dismissive--like "duh" or "ohhh-kay." Why even go to the trouble to share that? Go be cooler than thou on your own news feed.

Enough (is enough is enough...when?)

1. None of the really useful things I'm learning about connecting to people are ENOUGH reason to spend time on Facebook that I'd rather spend doing creative, productive, contemplative, or gustatory things.

2. Sometimes connection through Facebook really is ENOUGH connection with any particular individual--and sometimes a couple of check-ins on Facebook provide me with nearly ENOUGH human contact for an entire day (though it's hard to measure because my husband is also home writing or gloating being retired).

3. And sometimes virtual connections really AREN'T enough. So I also must remember to be with real people in real life, and remember #3 above. I'm getting better about scheduling ENOUGH of that sort of connection, but that's always a work in progress.

But enough about people and electronics. Time to go outdoors and connect with the mallards, snowshoe hares, ravens, blue jays, birches (achoo), balsams, and mud. I already know that none of them care what I think about anything!