Wednesday, December 18, 2013

"It's a Lesson too Late for the Learning"

I'm closing in on the last few minutes of my 24 hours with no Facebook and the things that I've learned from this have been interesting indeed.

Facebook has rendered voicemail obsolete. I know I never check mine anymore, which is an embarrassing thing when I finally do and find messages from people I care about. What I didn't know is that there are people out there who haven't put voicemail on their cellphones. I know because I tried to call them and that was what the voice on the other end told me. If I had texting capability...but that doesn't come with a landline. It seems if I want to communicate by phone, a landline is also obsolete--unless I have Facebook.

Blogs are still out there. I visited the ones on my blogroll and left comments with the ones that have been used within the past six months. In many cases, mine was the only writing in the comments field. Comments are now being left on Facebook instead.

And blogs not announced on Facebook go unread. Thank you, Mack, Will, and Steve for reading my last blogpost. I'm as guilty as anyone for reading posts only when they're announced on Facebook. And I'm missing things as a result, but not as much as I would have thought--or hoped.

Facebook has become our communication portal. It's quick, efficient, and provides the potential for an immediate response, which bothers me almost as much as it entertains me. On Facebook, we communicate in soundbites, with every fleeting thought that crosses our minds. Anybody who has been following the discussion about Thai politics on Facebook can see the inherent danger in immediate response without thought. This topic has turned into a war that is far from civil on Facebook pages; only a handful of posters give any real thought to what is no longer really a discussion.

The seductive speed of Facebook is doing us not as many favors as we think. Back in the last century, as the new technology began to take hold and offices installed computers, Jeremy Rifkin noticed that a different kind of time was also coming into existence. Computers gave answers in a heartbeat; clumsy old humans took more than a minute to respond. Rapid responders in the workplace became the most desirable and clever computer programmers brought that same rapidity to our personal lives, through Facebook.

Blogs are too slow for us now. Email is too slow. Letters are a laughable affectation. Voicemail is dead; the phone call is swiftly approaching the same fate. We communicate through Facebook and its even terser equivalent, Twitter. This changes the way we respond to each other, our expectations of a response, and what we respond to, What happens if our newsfeed becomes truncated so that we see only what Facebook chooses?

It's already happening. If I respond to a status update without clicking 'Like' enough times, the person who is writing those updates disappears from my newsfeed--no matter that I have been communicating with them. So now my form of communication has to include an obligatory click--one that isn't organic to my communication style.

Communicating through Facebook is like bonsai, small, concise, sometimes artful, and twisted into unnatural shapes. At last we have immediate gratification; unfortunately we're paying for it, even though it's free.


shaved monkey said...

I love the ending of this. In an aside, my son won't answer his phone. You must text him. And he hasn't posted anything on FB in months, but if I message him through FB he'll reply immediately, from his phone. He has not, as far as I know, opened his laptop since he graduated from high school. If my comments can't fit in the palm of their hand, the kids don't want to hear them.

Janet Brown said...

Ah brave new world and those who will inherit it!

Dr. Will said...

Remember when we used to telephone a friend or a company and a real person answered the phone?

Janet Brown said...

Press 1 if you want to leave Janet a friendly message, press 2 for sarcasm and invective. To receive your fair share of abuse, please stay on the line and one of our representatives will be with you soon.