Off again and on again again.

Off again, on again…

A day ago I detached myself from Facebook and today I reattach myself to Facebook.  I explain the behavior here, just to explain.

This Facebook thing has become ever so interesting a part of my life, when I am active and when I decide to detach myself from it and the community to which it allows me to be a part.  I hate Facebook a lot of the time and really do not want to because I do not think I should.  What is wrong, after all, with hearing what others have to say and having them hear what it is I have and care to say?  And when I get down to what is really, really wrong, it is always more about me than “them.”  I guess it is about my not wanting to hear what others have to say, per se, but wanting to hear what they are thinking.  I get criticized once in a while for the long form; I find too little in the shorthand, in phrases or just a little bit more standing in the place of meaningful ideas made meaningful to me via a thinker’s explanation of the thoughts.  I don’t know what like really means in terms of what another thinks of an idea posted or even what kind of feelings a like conveys and I certainly do not know if a whole lot of likes versus hardly any means in terms of whether or not others are reading posts or reading posts and not liking them.  I do notice some postings, not mine, are liked wildly and translate too quickly, maybe, to dislike for the posts that receive none or one or two.  My bad, of course.

I write a lot and post a lot of writing.  I might be misusing Facebook but I do not know what the rules might be regarding length but I write at length because I trust that my ideas have no value unless they can be understood and understanding cannot be achieved, I believe, without proper amounts of explanation; I think the ideas are complex enough to need explanation and support through presentation of evidence and logic.  And I, against what I have come to understand as violation of Facebook ethos, do not find a whole lot of value in posting about what is going on in my life—I may be leading too boring a life—but about what my experiences in life are causing me to think, these thoughts, I think, want to believe, being somehow of some value to others who, like me, I want to assume, are trying to figure out what the experiences mean and how that meaning should figure into the decisions I make including the suggestions I decide to make to others regarding how they should think and decide.

I guess I am looking for conversation with a degree of depth and I probably have turned, when I turn to Facebook, to the wrong place for such.  And, when I feel as I do now, frustrated with poster board comments, borrowed and without attribution, by people who are posting about truly important issues about which people are making decisions and trying, by their postings, to influence other people’s decisions.  To me this is really important business, beyond hobby or time passing, activity with a visceral aspect that has everything to do with the quality of life I live and the quality of live others can experience.  Poster boards and reposted articles do convey meaning but what they mean to those reposting is not often discussed and hearing why the reposter thinks the reposting valuable to some meaningful conversation on a topic is what I need to hear but most often do not.

I do wonder what Facebook and the kind of “conversation” it seems to provoke/evoke means in terms of the discourse of democracy.  I wonder because, despite the fact that the means for critical discussion are available on Facebook, critical discussion is a rarity rather than a regularity.  Every now and then a post will generate a long string of reaction posts and reactions to the reactions, subsequent posts building upon previous ones as participants engage in what is indeed critical conversation.  Sometimes the piling on is all about agreement but sometimes a post that follows is critique of the post that preceded and there is a rich referential element to the strand, posters make clear that they are reading and taking seriously the meanings offered by the posters to whom they are responding.

But this does not happen very often and critique, too often, comes in the form of very short responses that do not very well make reference to the meanings conveyed in the posts to which are being responded.  “Bullshit,” or “absurd,” or “I agree,” or God agrees,” or “Bernie agrees,” or “did you read so and so,” etc., fail to offer real insight into what meanings are being taken from the previous posts and little insight into the effect ideas conveyed have had on the thinking of the poster.  When I find myself in a café or a meeting room or a bar with other people—events that do not any longer take place often enough in my life (maybe the reason why I am asking too much now of Facebook?), since we involved in conversations of the face-to-face variety do not like silence gaps, perhaps, find ways to extend the conversation, often by commenting on comments and, though the motive may not be a desire to evoke intellectual rigor, conversations of this kind with thoughtful people does push minds involved to become intellectually involved at relatively high levels of involvement.

Facebook, then, the conversations it sponsors/inspire because one can so easily duck out from them, force little of what might be called dedication to the truth.  Something is said and maybe something else and at any point along the way things come to an end, not because things have been settled or a conclusion has been reached that nothing will or can be settled, but for no real reason at all other than there are no players left to play and, really, there is no reason ever, really to continue play.  Face to face there always is, if not a reason to stop playing, a reason offered for why a player wants to or needs to quit.  And, sometimes, the quitter actually is scolded for quitting—“you are losing the argument so you’re quitting”—and, even without such being said, most players in meaningful face to face conversation know not to too early our without good reason given withdraw.

The long and short of it is this; I do not like Facebook but I am going to continue to post because I need to feel that someone else is hearing what I am saying if I am going to think well enough to fulfill my criterion for good thinking.  I need to believe that there is someone hearing what I am thinking and thinking that the thinking I am offering is not good enough, nowhere near perfect, of course, but not nearly even adequate.  And when I think of the possible critiques that might be offered by thoughtful people, it provokes me to think some more and to further explain my thinking, to adjust my thinking based on my thoughts about the valid meanings of the critique offered.

I have no business, absolutely no business, even suggesting that others change their Facebook behavior to accommodate me.  Of course!  I am clicked back on because I do not like being clicked off and I can continue to link up my Word Press site with Facebook and with Twitter.  So, here I am, back and no big deal.


By lafered

Retired professor of education concerned with thoughtfulness

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