‘Tis the time of year to swear off Facebook. I mean, not for me. I would never do such a thing. I love Facebook like whoa. By “like whoa,” I mean like this, which is to say fully but not uncritically.
But every December into the wee early days of January, my Facebook feed is full of people renouncing social media. Dozens of “goodbye, I’m deactivating, taking a break, contact me by phone or snail mail or carrier pigeon.” I guess this sounds snarky, but I don’t mean it to be. I understand that on an average day, Facebook is a addicting distraction, a flow of generally useless and trivial information. On a bad day, it might be a hostile environment. Maybe even on a good day, the kind of day where you exchange jokes with an old friend and “like” a genuinely cute picture of someone’s dog/baby/dinner, it can be exhausting.
Still, I’m a super fan. Here’s why: I am not a stay-in-toucher. I am TERRIBLE at remembering to communicate with others. I answer emails in my head, but rarely on the information super highway. I never check voicemail. I forget to call even my most favourite people in the whole wide world. And I can’t remember the last time I wrote anyone a letter. I also MUCH prefer to be alone, to spend hours doing things like painting my nails and staring at a wall. And yet, I have chosen a field that is inherently and endlessly social. On an average day, I have extended interaction with about 60 students, a dozen colleagues, and a cast of 12. That’s JUST the default of meeting my contractual obligations. It doesn’t count professional networking, meetings with funders, planning committees, or any number of informational coffees that come with the job of an Artistic Director. And it definitely doesn’t count time with friends, family (8 brothers and sisters in 4 different states, 3 sets of parents in 2 different countries, 4 nieces and nephews, oodles of wonderful aunts, uncles, and cousins), or my partner and child.
In this landscape, Facebook emerges as a giant beacon of light, a shining star, a glistening web of social connectivity. In 10 quick minutes, I can admire my sister’s growing baby bump, commiserate with a friend’s job woes, link two people who are interested in the same kind of political activism, and check out Real Simple’s advice on organizing. I LOVE IT! I LOVE IT SO MUCH! Sure, none of this is a substitution for relating to people you really care about in depth, but it offers an alternative when that isn’t an option, whether separated by time, continents, or general flakiness.
Over the past year, I’ve sworn off (and on and off and on and off and on) gluten, sugar, dairy, and chemicals in my lip gloss, but Facebook? Oh hell no, I won’t go!