Sunday, February 5, 2012

Please Let This Mean Something

“Better yet, folks, we can combine[social networking websites] all into one site called “knowny” which records every interaction, every movement of every person on earth and posts them online like a storm of random data points that shouts out to the blind, indifferent universe, “WE EXIST! WE EXIST! PLEASE LET THIS MEAN SOMETHING!”

- Stephen Colbert



I’m starting to feel the weight and responsibility of social media pressing down on me like so many tons of html-coded brick.

I wonder about myself and the role of things like Facebook and Twitter and sometimes even this blog in my life. What part of my identity is really revealed in these things? This probably goes hand in hand with yesterday’s post about sharing too much of your heart with the world but…I am beginning to question my attitudes toward social media.

Facebook feels like a chore and yet, I continue to log on, incessantly almost, to see if people have liked my status or tagged me in a picture or commented on the YouTube link I just posted. And then I think, What is wrong with me? Why do I care? What about all of this do I truly find self-affirming? Helpful? Healthy?

Let me be clear. This is not an attack on anyone who is totally plugged in to their Facebook and Twitter and Google Plus and Flickr and Tumblr and Pinterest and YouTube and Blogger and Instagram and so on. I can easily see all of the amazing benefits and unbelievable assets that come with living in this internet-powered decade. It’s kind of mind-boggling how connected to the world I can be with just a click of a mouse (or sometimes less). I see the advantages and I am blown away by the advances in technology that allow us to learn and grow and move with the globe in exciting, revolutionary kinds of ways.

I’m just not sure if it’s really good for me anymore. I actually find myself more and more unhappy with the role of all this stuff in my life. I don’t even want to count the hours I while away, automaton-like, moving between three or four websites like some kind of deranged robot. 


I find myself torn between the desire to keep up with all the cool and new and hipster and deep well of desire to shut it off, shut it down. I long to drive to the library, not for the list of books I downloaded from the online catalogue but to browse the card index, to revel in the Dewey decimal system, to press my nose to yellowed library book pages and wonder about all the people who checked this book out before me. I dream of meeting each of my Facebook friends, instead for a cup of coffee (my treat) to look them in the eye and say, “How are you? I’ve missed you.” I imagine taking my rolls of film to the Walgreens and leaving them there, sometimes for a week, before receiving a set of prints, often blurry and disappointing and unedited, but fully tangible. I remember when I didn’t text or email, what it was like to call my friends or write them a letter, to hear their voice, to trace the line of their scribbled cursive across the page. I miss that. I miss the part where people had to ask you what your favorite movie was or what you did on Saturday night. Now it’s a click to my profile and you can read a list, a summary, a form meant to condense my entire personality and self – my faith, my politics, the books I’ve read, the quotes (not mine) that are somehow meant to express my depth and worldview and profundity. It’s a strange thing.

I guess I’m looking for balance in my own existence. This is not meant to be an answer for anyone else or even for me. I will keep blogging because I love it. I will keep my Facebook because I want to keep in contact with my family far away. I will Tweet because I enjoy quipping. I love my social media. I kind of hate it, too.

What about you? Do you struggle with this? How have you chosen to find balance in your life?

love, elizabeth


Anonymous said...

This is something I struggled with until a friend of mine posted on facebook a really convicting question. "How can you use facebook to care about someone else's needs over your own?" So, to create balance over my own selfish needs about facebook, I look for one or two ways each day that I can encourage and love on someone else. that may not be the way you create balance, but it's an idea for you to consider. I love you and I think it's really mature of you to be asking this question!
<3, the other E

Jenni@Story of My Life said...

This was incredibly well expressed Elizabeth. I feel you. I think it's important to ask all of these questions. I go through periods where I ask them of myself too... and then you make adjustments if necessary. For me, I've made social media my part time job. I am passionate about it, so it's easier for me to justify the time spent!

S. Donald said...

I understand completely, Elizabeth! Nothing compares to the smell of the library & the books, or a "real" letter written on cute stationery in my dear friend's handwriting.

Kate&Garrett said...

You're amazing love. You'll find the way. Myself, I've chosen NOT to add ANYTHING else to my list. I only use Facebook and Blogger. And absolutely nothing else. Facebook is draining enough by itself, forget trying to learn Twitter and all the rest. I think I'm officially too old for social media. I CAN'T WAIT TO SEE YOU!!!!!!!!

Mrs. Pancakes said...

It's important to go with what you can manage...there are more now and I feel like every month something else comes along with it! It's always important to be true to thyself and not follow trends in social media...after all it's all a fad!

Courtney Baxtron said...

I totally de-activated my personal Facebook account. I rarely go on twitter. I was just doing more online connecting than real life connecting, and it made me feel completely fake. I want real relationships with real people…as much as possible, and for me that meant disconnecting. Part of the reason I started my blog was to have a place to be me, without concern of what others thought. It is funny that I've found way more genuine online friends through blogging than I've had in the "friends" who I was linked to on Facebook, people I have met in real life.

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