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Wanderer at rest: How do I unlike?



By Jamie Balke Columnist

Normally I write this column about misadventures, realizations, or my love affair with the West. Today, if you don’t mind, I would like to rant.

In my humble opinion, Facebook may be out of hand. I’ll admit to posting my share of moody song lyrics and carefully selected photos on my old page, but those days are gone.

I am happily deactivated, having decided I’m better off if I don’t see the statements people make online. Also, the constant need to stay ahead of new privacy concerns creeped me out. I am not advocating this decision is for everyone but I haven’t looked back, except for missing the birthday reminders, which were super-handy.

At first, I had a “live and let live” Facebook philosophy. However, it didn’t take long before this most pervasive of mediums infiltrated my face-to-face conversations.

The following interaction has transpired often enough to give me pause:

Me: “Hey friend, how goes it?”

Friend: “Hey! Oh … I guess you don’t know.”

Me: “Know what? Is everything okay?”

Friend: “Everything’s fine, but since you’re not on Facebook anymore, you probably didn’t see my post.”

This last part is usually accompanied by a pitying look and mild annoyance at the inconvenience I’ve caused by forcing my friend to repeat him/herself.

I acknowledge that Facebook is successful. It is a remarkable way for people to share, connect, and express themselves, and I respect that. Rock on with your bad self.

Post the pictures that help distant loved ones feel closer; Tell people what you are thinking and what is important to you; Receive words of support and encouragement.

I find it disconcerting we prefer sharing information with an online audience, rather than having a discussion, in which we gradually unravel details of our lives in a dynamic give-and-take exchange. Call me old-fashioned, but that wierds me out.

My intention is not to rally for a false simplicity of times past. Being twenty-something, I recognize this column could border on blasphemy – I appreciate the incredible opportunities of a world connected online.

Then again, I hope investment in carefully constructed online personalities doesn’t lessen our investment in meaningful personal connections.

Or maybe I’m reading too much into this and need to get over myself.

End rant.

I hope I have not angered The Facebook.

Jamie Balke moved to Bozeman in the fall of 2009. She can generally be found behind the cover of a book, meandering down a trail or desperately trying not to kill houseplants.

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