I’ve been gone for a little while. Which is to say, after ExMass, I decided I’d do a little assperiment. But before I get to the assperiment, I want to tell you a little bit of background stuff. While I’m ramping up to that, have a listen to the best version of this song that has ever been performed in the history of the performing arts:
Sometimes, when I find something I really enjoy, I like to walk away from it because as the child of an alcoholic, I’m always a little nervous that I’m using the things I really really like as some kind of crutch or escape. That, in essence, I’m exhibiting the same behaviours toward things about which I am passionate as my mother exhibited toward her addictions. I suspect there’s some kind of buzz word for this, but I don’t think much of buzz words. And I’m going to warn you now this post will probably descend into some kind of rant about something, even though it’s meant to be more expository than …uh…rantitory.
Just after ExMass I gave some thought to my activity on social “needia”. It’s no surprise that I’m not a huge fan of Effbook. Their privacy policies make me grind my teeth (and frankly, there’s a reason I didn’t keep in touch with you, Chris M.; we’re just too different. Plus you were a total dick). I hate how most of these platforms aren’t actually about being social. They’re about breaking communities down and attempting to rebuild them on the basis of algorithms and the laziest of “social interactions”, the ‘like’ or ‘poke’.
There are two things about social networks. One is making connections. This is done one person at a time. You meet someone, you find out a bit about them, you share a little bit about yourself, and there’s give and take. The second thing is about content. In order to form a social “covalent” bond, you have to share content (electron pairs, if you will. This will be the extent of my chemistry metaphor because my knowledge of chemistry is pret-ty rusty these days). And I find most social networks sorely lacking in the content arena.
If “media” is a form of mass communication, then “social media” is either redundant (“collective/mass communication to the collective/mass from the collective/mass”) or it’s misnamed. It could possibly be both, actually. If society is really communicating to the masses, but society IS the masses, then doesn’t the actual content – the message – become meaningless? How can you find the content if the point of communication is simply broadcasting?
These are the sorts of things that keep me up at night.
At any rate, when I find something I really like, I walk away from it because I want to be sure that the reason I’m passionate about a thing isn’t because I’m using that thing as a crutch or a replacement for some aspect of my life or my self that’s lacking. Or absent. Or stunted. You get where I’m going here.
So I quit social “needia”.
I wanted to see if I’d hate it. If I’d feel lonely. If I’d feel like my friends had all abandoned me and I was alone. (Yes, yes. *I* was the one who chose to leave, I know.) I wasn’t sure if I could handle more of that lonliness business.
What happened was exactly the opposite. You wrote and asked if I was okay. You checked in. You texted me and emailed me and called me to find out where I’d been. You missed me.
These are the important connections. This is what I want to build on. One person at a time, one relationship at a time. I miss you too. It’s important that you know that. That you’re not just a name on a screen – I know this sounds really schmoopsy, but I want to and plan to continue to focus on building relationships up.
Look, my hiatus wasn’t narcissistic in any way. I needed to walk away to see what would happen. I do plan to come back, maybe a little at a time. Maybe all at once. But I kind of like the silence too, and I kind of liked forcing myself to come here to this place and share a little bit more. I don’t know what’s coming, but since you asked, I thought I’d tell you where I’d gone.