22 November 2008

Death by Facebook

Alyssa wrote at 5:52pm
What is the world coming to. First, my mom joined facebook and now you. It's a good thing I only get the joys of technology a few hours every few months. I don't think I can handle all of these advancements.

:) I miss you
Wall-to-Wall - Write on Alyssa's Wall

I am sure some (including myself in the recent past) would argue they are better off not caring about such matters. But is it my obligation to “study” this phenomenon, even if I don’t want to? Perhaps (evidently) it is.

In a letter to a friend:

… whereas a letter takes longer to compose (as we must more thoroughly compose our thoughts before we pen the thoughts to the paper) I can relay the same message to you in person, seemingly more personably (exactly?). And you know me and Facebook: Where is peoples’ time going these days – to ephemeral internet preoccupations?
Though these newer types of communication may indeed be the new letter writing, I just think these new forms of communication tear down more authentic types, like direct meetings, and, maybe more accurately, less time is spent composing such thoughts and conversations…

[July 20, 2005]

Until very recently, my only knowledge of Facebook was that it was a website created by a twenty-something university student, who sold it for a billion dollars. I am sure I could read the entire history of Facebook summarized in an article on Wikipedia, or I could simply and ask a few questions to the first high school student who walks into my classroom. For many reasons, this is one phenomenon that I had opted out of.

I do know what is important: the degree to which all of culture is defined by what happens to be the most popular at any given time. Over time, this website (and in general, Web 2.0) will come to represent the mainstream ethos of our future popular culture. And until recently, I had no interest in any of it. (Learning occurs best when there is a desire to attain specific knowledge.)

Me: one of my arugments for not joining was that the average facebook user spends 20 minutes a day on facebook, which seems like a long time, until i actually joined. now i know why
Friend: um id say like an 1hr a day bc i sign on at least 5 times a day lol. im sad i know lol
Me: it probably is more, i read that statistic a long time ago
Friend: wait there was a stat?! lol. sad
Me: so they are probably all laughing at me spending so much time on facebook. i refused to join, and now am on it 24/7. death by facebook

Then I moved across the country, away from all of my friends and family. Fundamental to the effectiveness of living 2000 miles away from friends and family is how to maintain communication. Moreover, difficult tasks seem easier when they are “need to know” rather than “nice to know.” A course in art history is nice to know, but contemplating Facebook satisfies a fundamental need for communication.

I wondered: “How much of a problem was this distance and hesitation towards Facebook going to become?” Even in my stoic regard of the future, I still have to ask why things have to go the way of Facebook. My resolution is plain: things will. Part of me has realized that there is an intangible downside to having complete intellectual detachment from whatever most Americans consider to be common knowledge.

Me: Guessing you found me on facebook?
Friend: ha yeah i did, totally creepy i know
Me: I am beginning to find out how creepy facebook can be. I had avoided joining it for years now, much to the dismay of my friends. well i gave in. and now i find myself finding people from years past. in a certain way i feel stalkerish
Friend: ha no i totally know what you mean i feel ober stalkerish but i mean its not like im like "stalking" them. I mean i use it to keep up with friends
Me: yea i know, that is how i need to think of it. it’s networking, not stalking

Over the last few years I have found my criticism of Facebook becomes eccentricity. The networking savvy users logging on to Facebook will almost certainly go on to influence mass media. In five, ten, fifteen years, they will be publishing books and directing films, using their shared knowledge and experiences as the foundation for discourse. So I wondered: “Because I don’t understand Facebook, am I doomed to become disconnected, thereby misunderstanding everything else?”

As I think out the process it becomes more and more related to philosophy. either I can choose to become the rogue dissident who conforms to none other than his own desires. Or the individual can conform to an established system or trend. The true challenge is achieving comfort. What if resolve can belong to the person who most readily absorbs into the trend?