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No one is forcing you to use it

From Facebook Isn’t Making Us Lonely:

“The real danger with Facebook is not that it allows us to isolate ourselves, but that by mixing our appetite for isolation with our vanity, it threatens to alter the very nature of solitude.” Facebook, [Marche] claims, has produced a “new isolation,” one that demands constant attention to the Internet and precludes any genuine retreat from the world. Facebook, he charges, “denies us a pleasure whose profundity we had underestimated: the chance to forget about ourselves for a while, the chance to disconnect.”

No one is forcing you to use Facebook. So earlier this week I deleted my account.

There is more I want to say about this, but I’m still thinking about it. I will say this: the profundity of the new solitude, one that can’t be interrupted with off-the-cuff status updates or meme trails (though I do miss that)… moreover, one that precludes the ability to post off-the-cuff status updates or memes, is indeed a pleasure.

But I do miss it. There is even a cognitive “twitch” that makes me unconsciously pull out my phone to check for new updates. And that is this most unsettling aspect of the experience thus far.

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How I’m weaning myself off Twitter

By pitting my impatience against my distractedness. Remember tweeting with a dumbphone? Yep, only that and third-party noninvasive plugins. No more multi-streams and Hootsuite nonsense.

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I wish I could quit you

I took the advice of a friend and decided not to change the channel.

On the commute to work this morning (1 hr to go 16 miles), I listened to the latest New York Times Book Review podcast on my iPod. Instead of immediately flipping over to NPR’s All Songs Considered, I swiped the off switch and sat a few moments in silence with the 4 million other drivers on the road.

I started daydreaming something I’ve been daydreaming for a few days now. The excitement swells, and then the fear, and then despair washes it all away. (Typical daydream story arc, right?). The dream is the idea of completely disconnecting from the internet, or at least most of it. Stop blogging (which no one reads or enjoys), stop tweeting (which is more distracting than helpful), stop posting to photos (which I rarely do), stop trying to populate digital spaces in which I’m the only person in the room.

I develop these elaborate plans. Gantt charts that outline a plan of retreat, backing out of one space after the other, leaving only a witty envoi behind (like “[lacunae]” or “connection lost”). First Twitter, then all the minor spaces, then Facebook, and finally the blog (I would chronicle this, of course). Within a few weeks, the only way to reach me would be via email or phone. I would spend time developing relationships (something I’ve yet to really do in 3 years of living in LA), being with my family, and exploring the city. My days wouldn’t be full of news streams and status updates, but books and music and seascapes (gods, did I mention I live by the ocean? I can hear it from my doorstep. But do you know it’s been months since I’ve seen it?).

It all seems like a brilliant idea and then fear sets in. I’m still not a full fledged librarian: how will I show potential employers that I’m interacting with the profession and appropriately tech-savvy? Luddites are very much not in vogue right now in the library world. How will I stay up to date with the news and tech that is allegedly so essential for modern info professionals? Who am I if I am not (1) successful, (2) full of ambition, (3) at the top of my class, (4) “engaged.”

Of course, these future employers seem to be the only ones that care about this.

Then the despair. There’s no way I could quit it. I would always feel compelled to get back in the game. No one would take me seriously. There it is: this unnatural (perhaps illusory) feeling of being trapped by a spectre. Gods I hate that. So let’s just ignore it and write another blog post.

And here we are again. Happy Friday to all of us who live in public. =)