Lately—probably because I’m on vacation and find myself with a little extra time to think (I know, not good)—I’ve found myself wondering why I haven’t been checking Facebook. I still post stuff there occasionally, but I haven’t really scrolled through my News Feed in months. If you’ve noticed my absence in your likes and comments, which seems unlikely since no one’s said anything, this is why. I’m just not drawn there anymore.
I’ve been in a few thrift stores lately and one of my all-time favorite things about thrift stores is finding and…um…celebrating the ridiculous stuff that people have owned and passed on. I make up stories in my head of the original owners and what possessed them to buy these things in the first place. I like to imagine the unbelievable joy they derived from owning this thing that I am now mocking in shameful judgment. Did they truly love this crazy shit and grow tired of it? Were they possessed to buy more crazy shit so they had to sell this stuff to make room? Did they just die and leave it for their heirs who then experience moments of comic relief in their hour of grief? Were these prized possessions actually fashionable or popular in some place and time?
Then my mind drifts back one step further to the artist. The Creator. The font of endless creativity from which sprung this gem that I now hold in my hand. Sometimes it’s obvious that, sure, at some point it may have been original, beautiful, cool, whatever. And other times I can derive no understanding of what possessed someone to think that what they were making was actually a good idea or would be remotely desirable to any member of the human race.
And here’s where I venture into something deeper: is this what keeps us from creating…writing, playing, composing, making, sharing? Will someone laugh at this? It’s already been done so why should I do it? Will this thing only matter to me and if so, why should I bother sharing it? Why bother making it in the first place for that matter?
I may be old fashioned, but I like things to work the way they seem to work and prefer ease-of-use. I know. Wait, what? “Work the way they seem to work”? Easy to use? You heard me. And this brings me to the topic: Facebook.
I seem to remember a time when one could post something to Facebook and depending on your privacy settings, it would appear in the timeline of whoever should see it. That’s expected behavior and pretty simple, right? But I’ve recently discovered that this isn’t the case and maybe has been for some time. Much of my content I’ve been posting to Facebook hasn’t been displaying in my friends’ News Feed even though I’ve “allowed” it. It’s probably been happening for a while, but these things are hard to notice. How do you know you’re not seeing what you’re not seeing? Depending on the number of friends you have, the amount of content, and the frequency/regularity that your friends post to Facebook, absence isn’t abnormal. But what’s started happening is I’ve been getting comments from my Facebook friends that they’ve missed me or wondered where I’ve been—and I post daily. But at some point, my stuff just stopped showing up for some of my friends’ News Feeds with no change in settings from me or them. This is something that Facebook made the default without much fanfare or notice.
Okay, maybe that title isn’t exactly fair. At work, I’m the email boss. I think my replies are timely, succinct, and at times even tastefully humorous. But on the personal front, I suck. If your message requires a quick answer, sure, I get it done. However, those personal emails or messages that are more in-depth and along the lines of “how are the kids?” or “which albums have you been listening to?” or even “what’s your favorites on Netflix there days?” have me stuck. You will not get a reply in under three weeks. It could take years. It is my kryptonite.
Those “fact-only” emails are easy: “can you be at this place on this day?” Yes. Or no. Or how about this instead? Easy. But “how are the kids?” C’mon. I have a friggin website devoted to that with a blog, photos, and videos, but you’ve decided you want it straight from the horses mouth, which is cool, but my brain starts running through a catalog of all the amazing, funny, wonderful, fun, scary things that have happened just in the last week and the thought of transferring it to written word in even the most basic way requires a special place and time. I like you. I like my kids. I want to do you all justice. So you don’t get that reply that’s timely, succinct, or even tastefully funny.
Maybe my standards are too high? Maybe you really don’t care, you’re just being polite, and you want the grocery store checkout lady version: “oh, they’re great, crazy as ever!” Done. But again, I like you. I like my kids. You deserve more. WE deserve more.
On top of all this, throw in the multiple channels that compete on a daily basis. I get phone calls, texts, direct messages and mentions on Twitter, messages on Facebook, and Google+, and oh, right, what’s that old-ass thing called? EMAIL. Granted, I love some of these alternate forms of communication for various reasons:
- DM on Twitter: Great for people to send a private note who don’t have your other info and maybe who you don’t want to have it. Feels less personal and “up in your grill”.
- Facebook/Google+ message: Convenient for people already surfing Facebook, and again, don’t have your other contact info. Feels less personal and “up in your grill”.
- Texts: Great for places you can’t talk and quicker than dialing, ringing, waiting, talking, saying good-bye, hanging up when all you want to say is, “I’m on my way.”
I like being in touch though, that’s the thing. Especially since moving away from my old turf, I feel it keeps me present, even when I’m not. So yes, the obvious answer might be toning it back down to just phone or phone and email, but I don’t think that’s the main issue. For me, it’s that I care too damn much. Words are important. My life and your life, they’re important. I don’t want the checkout clerk or drive-thru version. And it would all be perfect if I just made the time and saved the energy to type out my brain and heart to all your messages, preferrably before a year passes.
Shit. In the time I wrote this damn post, I could have answered at least one of you in my InBox with some finely crafted email love. Next time. I promise.