Leaving Facebook

Wednesday 30 October 2013

So Rima Staines finally joins Facebook ...

... and I leave it.


I've done this before.  I know how it feels - the familiar jittery, "What the hell am I doing?" feeling.  The awful thought that you have removed yourself from the entire front loungeroom of the global house.  That you will probably lose touch with a whole bunch of people who if you never get on Facebook again you'll probably never talk to again.

The "What the hell am I doing?" feeling is like when you quit smoking.  It's a panic.  It's a wondering what you're going to do to fill up the space where you used to look at Facebook 30 times a day.

Which is exactly why I'm doing it.  I want more space.

I partially blame Rima's post.  Because this:

I have a theory that using the internet occupies a very particular place in us. I think it takes the place of dreaming. Not night-dreaming, but that very shamanic soul-travelling that we all do to a greater or lesser extent when our mind wanders, when we create art, when we day-dream, imagine, journey in our minds and spirits to elsewhere, elsewhen. Internet-travelling uses the same metaphorical muscle I think, but is utterly hollow in comparison because it is not creative in that same sense. It is not magical. And worst of all it replaces the dreaming.
This really speaks to me.  I haven't been writing much in recent weeks, after the latest sinus bout.  It fills up my head and makes it feel like there is not room enough both for sinus and for words.  And so I've fallen off the writing habit again for the moment.  But even if my head is relatively clear, it still feels full up with the internet.  With the mass amount of information I've taken in over one day that the majority of people in the entire history of the world would not take in over their entire lifetimes, I feel completely full, and often very overwhelmed, even when I'm rolling around inside the house all day all by myself with no work to do.  It's not very conducive to characterisation, to essay-writing, to thrumming.  And so while I can't get rid of the entire internet, I can at least get rid of Facebook.  Because it frees up space, and I know it does because it has done so before.  And I wish to fill that extra space with real-time interaction with breathing, living people, and real-time interaction with clay, with pens, and with the keyboard where I am writing stuff that sits in a document waiting to be added to tomorrow, instead of being pasted as a Facebook status update.

Rima is speaking about the internet as a whole, and I agree fulsomely that even if I quit Facebook, I still have to try to manage my internet info intake each day.  But Facebook is like the methamphetamine of the internet for me.  Even more so than Twitter, strangely.  Twitter annoys me too much for it to ever be a meth addiction.  Twitter is like a once a week bong-on sesh with your mates.  Facebook is like mainlining.  I need the space. 

I went outside before, after getting home from my Aged Care class, and sat, with my feet bare in the grass, and read a wonderful novel, and felt blissed out from the sun that had poked through the clouds on my way home and which was now heading his way in a slant over to the west.  And I made pictures out of the clouds, and thrummed in my dreaming space, and read a story set in the future generations and generations after a giant meteorite has hit the moon and flung it off its trajectory so that every seventh night it looms scarily close to the earth before moving away again in its new spheric orbit.  A story most certainly set elsewhen, further off into the future around a church of women, the Sisters of Selene, whose influence has already risen in their small periphery and, over several generations, now begins to wane.  It is a book captivating my attention, and hence I was incredibly rich sitting there, more than you could ever guess, out out on the grass, feet buried in grass, reading the words of an author who sounds like he's writing in some Icelandic country - his name is Torsten Krol, if he is indeed a he - but who apparently lives in Queensland.  There is apparently some mystery surrounding Torsten Krol, about whether he is a famous author writing under a pseudonym.  I think in some ways I like it like that - an anonymous writer.  There is sometimes something nice about not knowing who the author is, of the story just wafting to you all on its own.

But I also really like it when a piece of writing is attached to an author.  It's why I will always prefer blogs over Facebook, even as Facebook has stolen many bloggers away.  I prefer being able to go to read someone's extended thoughtfulness, where my reading is a little more longform, even if it means that I can read less, because it's more fun to spend time inside one person's mind for five minutes rather than flicking my attention between 13 different people in two.

And so my love-hate relationship with this online space, and my haggling with it over how much of an effect it gets to have on my attention span and mindspace continues.  Rima says it better:
But do you not also share my frustration and loathing for the way the internet has squirmed into our every minute, addicting us to updates, and overloading us with eons more information each second than we are naturally made to process in a lifetime? Even if we ignore the endless shite and horror that the internet contains, it is still spilling over with wonder. There are so many beautiful things out there, genuine heartfelt pieces of writing, ideas and images - too many - so we have learnt to skim, to take in only the bubbles from the top of every slowly crafted brew. And I for one feel this is not a true and considered honouring of these beautiful works, not to mention of the eyes and hearts and souls and bodies of the people who are consuming these streams of information every millisecond, utterly removed from the place and land where they sit, out in the ether somewhere, following a trail whilst their extremities get gradually colder and they forget to eat lunch.
... I speak from a concerned and somewhat frightened yet simultaneously grateful and amazed viewpoint. If we use this thing, we still need to remember the land on which we stand, remember our bodies and the faces of those we love. I think we should be frightened that all intercity trains these days are filled with blue-faced passengers, every one of them swiping their fingers across a tiny screen, oblivious of the people around them acting identically. If we use this thing, then we should use it to find other faces in the throng and go and really touch them, in real life. Arrange it so that you can look into their real eyes and hear their real stories. This amazing network can be used for proliferating inane fluff or it can be used to organize and gather for good and real reasons, and to stir souls.
Sometimes the soul you need to stir is your own.  To make more space for the daydreaming.  To not let connecting on Facebook replace connecting with people in real time.  To go cold turkey once again.  To disconnect to reconnect.  A mighty challenge for us all ~ internet newbies all as we are ~ to navigate.


  1. Ahhh, Rima. I have followed her posts and loved her art for years now. She truly is a wise, gentle soul. I am very fond of her.

    I have a FB account, but am so very rarely on it, that I might as well not have one at all.
    For some reason, it's never "gelled" with me. Perhaps I don't like the lack of one-to-one-ness. Or, it seems too public. Too "busy" for me.
    I dunno.

    But my son says I need a, "Facebook presence" for my art - to push it a little more. "A blog and/or an online store won't cut it these days".
    Again, I dunno.

    I think I don't like the format. So, if I don't warm to it, I guess I won't "work well" with it.

    I also feel that I miss very important connections and interactions with people. Nothing quite beats face to face.
    That's why I like markets. Although, unthinking comments from the odd customer can rattle one's cage at times - not much different to being online then.

    Sometimes, words can be hollow and often misconstrued in text format. There are only so many emoticons one can put into their writing ;)

    It will be very interesting to read your posts when you have more space after leaving Facebook. I imagine your world will be much richer, and that will be reflected in your wonderful writing.

    I'm looking forward to it :)

    1. Yay, fellow Rima lover. I have a print of hers, of the Baba Yaga, on my wall (it was very generously donated by Tess at Pilgrims Moon - http://www.pilgrimsmoon.com/ - and I won-ded it). I love the way Rima writes, and how she wants to run off into the forest and never return. I could see both you and I doing that :)

      I'm a bit nervous about your comment that it will be interesting to read my posts when I have more space. I'm worried that leaving Facebook isn't going to do it for me - that you will need to wait until I've gone through menopause and stopped being depressed and anxious and on the verge of almost-mentally-ill from other stuff for THAT to happen [insert facetious emoticon here].

      But that's not really true. I was thinking before about how simple it is to write and how completely not easy. The last uni class I did on-campus was a creative non-fiction essay-writing class where we were set a certain amount of time to write something - anything. I can't remember what the prompt was. There was one, of a sort. And the bit that I ended up writing from that I ended up selling to The Big Issue as a My Word column a few months later. And I feel like I've got a million of those inside of me. It really is just making the space. Not making up excuses that I can't do it because I'm too paranoid at the moment, or whatever the current almost-mental-illness is in vogue in my head.

      We really do make excuses sometimes, don't we. When really it's just that we need to make space.

      And there's a blog post right there.


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