Sunday, May 23, 2010

Can't Get No Digital Satisfaction

One of the effects of my digital detox week was that I realized that online communities like Facebook, while useful for keeping connected in some way, are in other ways counterproductive.

Trying to have relationships by FB is like trying to eat a dinner of hors d'oeuvres. It may fill you up, but it can leave one feeling profoundly dissatisfied. And that feels so accurate, I want to say it again:

Profoundly dissatisfied.

Not to mention a little grouchy and irritated.

I know some people like those small bites at a tapas bar, but it just does not do it for me. I need a whole meal. And FB in particular does not do it for me.

In fact, seeing what everyone else is up to can exaggerate any feelings of isolation. Or I can feel heard but not understood, seen but not cared for.

I found that I enjoyed conversations when they occurred, but more often there is no conversation.

Often, I'm shouting into the forest. One's voice sounds weird there. It disappears into the trees, and maybe you get a rational and engaging response, or maybe you get strange and unsettling noises. Worse, the people who annoy me just a little in real life are irritating as hell on FB. Interactions either die away or they are magnified into something grotesque. Lots of stimulation with little resolution.

I'm not complaining about my friends, really. Most of them are lovely people. And if that's the only way I can talk to them, I'll take it. I've even learned more about some of my friends.

But when you want a real conversation, when you want someone to look at you and really appreciate what you are saying about your life, or when you want to appreciate what someone else is going through in their life, this ersatz medium just does not cut it.

You know how when you detox physically that you might have a negative reaction when you reintroduce various substances? After letting it go and coming back to it, I discovered that I am slightly allergic to FB. My psyche actually hates it, but it tastes just good enough that I still drop in to sample it from time to time.

In the last month, I've noticed myself, quite unconsciously, connecting with people in my real life community.

I've been introducing myself to a person here or there at dances. I find out a little more about who they are and what their story is.

Or I pause to talk to a friend and hear about what their life is currently like.

I take more time to snuggle my cats, hang out with my husband.

I spend some time talking to the bread ladies at the co-op.

I invite friends to meet me for an impromptu taco run.

I call my sister.

I even wrote a letter.

I like it. It's real life status updates. Live and in person, baby!

Instead of snagging twinkies out of the air, I'm sitting down to a light but full meal. I think it even has vegetables in it.

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