facebook: a love hate thing

Let me tell you what I love and hate about this social platform called Facebook.

  • It’s instant micro-publishing for the masses.
  • Anyone can generate and deliver their own content to hundreds of people, any time.
  • It requires almost no technical expertise, writing ability, or cogent thought. Which doesn’t mean there isn’t any, just that it’s optional.
  • It opens a pipeline of social interaction right on my desktop.
  • Many of my old and dear friends are there.
  • It’s very easy to express one’s half-baked political opinions.

You can’t tell if those are the things I like or the things I hate, right? Yeah, me neither.

But while many on the progressive side of life – like myself – will say the common man’s presence in Web 2.0, the growth of interactive information sharing, is a good thing, I wonder. Maybe it should be just a little bit hard, take just a little effort, to interact with Deep Thought. Maybe to talk to the guru, or to speak as one, a little ontological mountain climbing is in order.

Sometimes it’s good that things are hard, requiring time and planning and circumspect consideration, is my point.

I’m a writer, a developer of content. And one thing I can assure you about writing also goes for life, learning, recovery, and just about anything that makes existence worth anything: It’s a process, not a product.

When one sits down to write, or for that matter to paint, throw pots, build a birdhouse, whatever, one sets out on a journey of reflection, trial and error, polishing and striving for perfection. It may be a journey of moments, months, or years, but it’s always a process. If you try to birth it from first concept to completion in one step, you hit FAIL as sure as BP hit oil.

Therein lies the problem with Facebook, as I see it: Instant gratification. It is the microwave popcorn of human thought in the year 2010. 

I’m saying that in my own case at least, and probably those about me whose efforts I can myopically perceive, it’s better to slow down. Think about it. Scribble some first thoughts on the draft from that window, let them germinate while the moon rides, publish them tomorrow.

So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years—
Twenty years largely wasted, the years of l’entre deux guerres
Trying to use words, and every attempt
Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate
With shabby equipment always deteriorating
In the general mess of imprecision of feeling,
Undisciplined squads of emotion.

— T.S. Eliot, East Cocker

l’entre deux guerres