Over the past week-plus, I have taken the opportunity to wade into C-Span’s Facebook feed – and answer their occasional question from my own point-of-view. Aside from the snarky and sarcastic commentary from right-wingers, I have seen nothing of value inside their forum. But I have started to notice a few trends, some of which have me questioning the overall value of Facebook as a social platform, and has me – once again – pondering my participatory relationship in the Facebook social model.
I started to notice, that within the C-Span postings, the commentary placed there was rarely about discussion. Mostly, its been about bitching and moaning about a President (pick one) that the poster did not like, or making grandiose statements about runaway government overstepping or abusing its authority. This will take place for a few hours, and then the whining and moaning turns towards personal insults between the commenters. At first, I thought this was restricted to areas such as these – but then I started looking in other places – and there are similar patterns in other places as well. Facebook does not seem to be the place to talk and discuss issues or even the place to share parts of your Life with friends and family (unless you have closed down your account to being viewable only to that particular spectrum of folks). Seemingly, its become a place to complain, whine, and argue.
The truly sad part, is that I found myself falling into that same perspective. Whining, bitching and moaning about various things – and not sharing my joy of what I find awesome and positive in my daily Life. I went back and looked through my status posts of the last few weeks. Aside from sharing a few videos, and the occasional shared post from here at my blog, if you went by the material I posted and the commentary I made – you would be under the impression that my entire Life was lived in a world covered in dark, rainy clouds, with a Life lived in despair and discontent. And nothing could be further from the truth. I am living a very happy Life – enjoying every moment that I can get outside in the beautiful weather, enjoying the job that I work at – but that is not reflected in what I post. And the only reflection that I can find that mirrors that is the posts from other places within Facebook. And its that reflection that is making me take a long, hard look at the value I get from Facebook overall.
There are plusses to the FBE (Facebook Experience) though. I have connections to people that I value greatly in my Life. I have made connections with people I had lost connections with when I was stationed overseas. I have made new friends that have discovered me through both of my podcasts, as well as my blog. But interactions with these folks tends to be a little sparse at times because they are not always online or if they are, they are not always on Facebook.
There are other avenues to work from. There is Google-Plus, which seemed to be a ghost-town a while back, but interaction is picking up there. The conversation tends to be a little more cerebral for the most part, but not as nearly as long-lasting. And there’s the OBOD discussion forums, where OBOD members can talk about subjects. I have not spent nearly as much time there as I should…and have already started changing that. So I am a little unsure of the discussion paradigm there. There’s also Instant Messenger, but I am rarely at my keyboard for long stretches of time, so that can be somewhat frustrating as a communications medium for both myself and the individual communicating with me. And there’s also face-to-face time…
Last year, I stuck my toe back into the local Pagan community – helping out with Pagan Pride Day. Granted, I came late to the entire planning aspect of the event – so I was sort of the loose wheel in the group. This year, I have been in from the start – and am a little more of a known quantity now. But even this interaction is sparse at times. After all, many of these folks have their own Spiritual practices, families and jobs that compete with their free time. So there’s not a whole lot of opportunity to just sit and discuss mundane stuff….and I know there are other things out there, such as MeetUp groups, local Drum Jams, and the such. I will definitely have to look into that.
In the end, I still find myself questioning the value I get out of Facebook interactions, considering the amount of time I spend on the site. And its a bad proportion, from my perspective. I spend large amounts of time there – and the amount of positive, meaningful communication that I get from it…well, its minimal – at best. Which leaves me wondering…what might be a better place??? There’s got to be something, right?