I've been thinking a lot about the human schooling behavior better known as social networking. or, to be completely accurate, about my own participation in it. I go onto Facebook several times a day, for little reason, really, except that I get bored doing other stuff and it feels more interesting to see what my friends are saying or doing. But I often leave feeling disagreeable. Annoyed at myself for wasting time. Annoyed at the corporate culture that manipulates us and uses our flocking behavior, our desire for social interaction, for its own ends. Depressed by superficiality, phony "friendship,"and by our collective loneliness. And at other times I'm caught up in something positive, glad to hear news from a far-flung friend, happy to follow a good link, amused by a witty conversation or challenged by a debate.
I've had an active online life for almost a decade now. This blog will be nine in March. As I've written before, maintaining a serious blog these days definitely feels like swimming stubbornly in an opposite direction while everyone else streams off to a party. I feel, and have sometimes succumbed, to the pull of the current: I've written micropoems on Identica and Twitter, I've got my FB page and another one for Phoenicia Publishing, I've got Phoenicia's website and blog; I've posted a profile and a lot of books and reviews on Goodreads, a site I like a lot; I wish I could spend more time with Ravelry. But I realized a while ago that I just can't keep up. I don't do Google+ or LinkedIn; I'm rarely on Goodreads anymore. My activity on FB and Twitter are minimal. And you know what? I don't care.
What I do care about is depth, and perseverance. Without being critical about social networking, which obviously meets a fundamental need for a huge number of people -- and especially, not being judgmental about the creative use of those mediums -- I think it just comes back to being true to myself. I'm miserable when I feel scattered all over the place. I'm happy when I feel like I'm learning, stretching, being disciplined, and accomplishing something. Blogging does that for me. Working in my studio on artwork; reading; creating books for Phoenicia; having good conversations with friends; practicing and performing music; cooking for the people I love -- all those things do it for me too.
Loretta, at Pomegranates and Paper, wrote an intensely honest blogpost about these things recently, too. We all get caught up in behaviors and patterns sometimes that end up with us getting kind of lost. That's OK; that's part of taking risks, doing new things, exploring. The thing is, I may feel lost in the same place where lots of other people feel found.
Believe me, this isn't a lecture I mean for anyone but myself: I need to remind myself of who I am, and keep my eye on the ball. A certain amount of solitude is necessary for that, and yet -- like most people -- I find solitude difficult after a while. Still, the bottom line has to be, who am I and what do I want? And then making some decisions and buckling down.