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a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

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On Facebook

Posted by Thomas Nephew on March 10th, 2010

Part of the decline in output for this blog is because I tend to use “Facebook” these days as my main platform for pointing out articles and events I think are worthwhile or important (maybe 75% of the time there), and for saying what’s up with me, music I like, and personal stuff (maybe 25% of the time).

The reason is simple: comments and  full-fledged discussions are much more likely there than here, partly because your latest item is transmitted to all your friends, so there’s a chance they’ll see it — even if it’s rapidly buried in the snowfall of posts by all their other friends.  One comment then begets another and another, as the facebook software propels commented-on stuff to higher prominence in the so-called ‘news feed’ (as opposed to the instantaneous, unfiltered ‘live feed’).

Facebook also lets you easily add photos, form groups, and announce events, and even advertise them; there’s also a “chat” feature, though I never use it.  The look of one’s “wall” — the place where one’s messages, photos, and found objects from the Internet pile up — is fairly “clean,” and of a piece with the so-called “home page” news feeds where your friends’ posts etc. pile up.  For quick interactions in a smoothly functioning environment, it’s a very nice system, and it lets you fine tune the degree to which you’re visible to facebook users beyond your circle of approved online friends — anywhere from hardly at all to come one come all.

But the drawback is also clear: Facebook isn’t about long form writing.  (Yes there are “notes”, no, they’re not used much.)  There’s an upper limit on how long the initial post can be, so that you’re more or less compelled to do ‘heh. indeed’ or ‘oh my god’ quick hit comments on your item and then express your views more completely in comments.  It can be kind of fun to combine your teaser, the headline, and a followup comment into one coherent message, but it’s not the kind of writing and researching I do for posts here — posts, to be sure, that go all but unread.

So that’s the trade-off, roughly: write or be read, research or discuss, write as if the world were reading or just as if you’re at a kind of neighborhood get-together.  I find Facebook to be quite absorbing — some people are excellent sources of news and opinion pieces, and others are reliably interesting commenters.  But I miss the kind of writing I did here and the interactions I’ve had with friends and readers here, and I think it’s time to rebalance my efforts between these two outlets and — oh, right! — the actual, real world.

5 Responses to “On Facebook”

  1. WorldWideWeber Says:

    heh. (Oops—wrong venue.)

    The gravitational field of Facebook is indeed amazing. Glad you’ve decided to keep the old blog afloat. Tonight I was re-acquainting myself with the Google newsreader and that’s why I’m here. Wanted to read some good long-form writing rather than get buffeted by snippets of songs I don’t know and what someone is having for supper and short-form … stuff.

  2. Thomas Nephew Says:

    Still, without Facebook I would not have learned about either Yo La Tengo, Juggalo News, from the Insane Clown Posse dimension, or Gogol Bordello, and I would be less amused. (Be advised, Juggalo is not work- or family-safe.)

  3. Nell Says:

    I’ve been just staying away from news and politics almost atogether. The house is much cleaner and we’re eating better, and I’m angry less of the time — with a little flush of outrage when I catch a snippet of news. Not exactly balance, but since I don’t seem able to handle the bleakness I need to minimize my exposure for a while.

    When I do feel up to it, I always check here — and I really liked your ‘First, I know both those guys’ post.

  4. Thomas Nephew Says:

    Hi Nell!!

    Glad you liked the “First of all” post, but gladder you’re happier and healthier (or at least eating better, not always the same thing). — Re happier, one nice thing about Facebook can be that the gallows-humor-minded such as myself can find common ground in groups; I’ve founded a few, but my recent “Take care of yourself, Dick! We need you healthy enough to stand trial.” is the most successful with 130 members! I’m so proud!!! True, it’s maybe a little silly to post links to items like “Restaurants in The Hague,” “What do they eat in prison? Prison food.”, or Onion classics like “New heart device allows Cheney to experience love”, but they bring fleeting moments of joy to my own black and shriveled heart.

    It’s not just Facebook, though; I suppose I’ve been a little glum myself. I really tried not to be an Kool-Aid drinking Obamabot before the election to avoid just this. But it didn’t work. So I’ve sometimes been disappointed to the point of political and certainly writer paralysis. (Got accused of wallowing in/purveying “disappointment porn” on Facebook once; at least I got a good neologism out of it!) Plus, I can’t make head or tails of the procedural thicket the health care stuff has gotten tangled in, and I conclude that’s half the point from their point of view. But the civil liberties and detainee stuff has been *exceptionally* disappointing — e.g., the looming 180 on the KSM trial, the DoJ arguing that cell phone users tacitly concede their privacy rights…. maybe I’m a disappointment *connoisseur* now, yeah, that’s the ticket. “Acidic, with a bouquet reminiscent of Carter’s third year…”

  5. Nell Says:

    maybe I’m a disappointment *connoisseur* now, yeah, that’s the ticket. “Acidic, with a bouquet reminiscent of Carter’s third year…”

    That one has me laughing. Thanks so much. Great Orient Express post, too.

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