When Facebook first started I was still in college and I didn't see the point. Wed be sitting around a friends apartment while all my friends would be looking at pictures of themselves from the night before. It didn't make sense to me.
When I graduated college I finally had a reason to join. It was a way to keep with everybody I went to school with. Until at a certain point, not exactly thrilled with my career path (it wasn't even a path at that point) and unsatisfied with my social life (no offense to my parents who were absolutely wonderful roommates for those two years) I quit facebook. Seeing the semi-fabulous lives of everybody I no longer really talked to was too much for me to handle mentally, and certainly emotionally.
It was a relief not being a part of it anymore. I felt less pressure and stress. It was amazing how fast I had gone from never wanting to know anything about anybody else's social life, to being completely addicted to it.
I had become a free man in a land of internet slaves.
Several years passed and I took a trip to South America by myself, to backpack and travel and experience more of the world.
While I was away I found a funny thing. People weren't just exchanging occasional emails to potentially stay in touch, they were "friending" each other and posting pictures of each other that might otherwise never be seen by the people in them.
It was the fourth time I'd backpacked in a different part of the world and the first time this kind of interaction was happening. And I was amazed.
I had to join Facebook but I didn't have a computer with me and I wasn't looking to spend a bunch of time in an Internet cafe getting back on Facebook. So naturally I tasked my friend back home in New York with setting up my account.
Long story short, I had to eventually change my password a month later when she refused to stop friending everybody I went to high school with.
Anyway, I was on Facebook again. I collected photos from my travels. I returned home.
And while I hadn't been off of Facebook for that long, I was kind of shocked at how it worked. Shocked in a bad way.
The process of connecting with people became this noun-verb of "Friending." But a cheaper feeling experience I could not imagine. There were never any re-introductory emails. Never a "Hey, long time no see, how are you?"
It bothered me just as much when people I only knew in a passing manner added me. There certainly wasn't a reintroduction there either.
There was none of that, it was just people clicking buttons, adding, increasing a number on a social scoreboard.
I felt like I was being collected. And it made me angry.
What made me even angrier was that it didn't seem to piss anybody else off.
Everybody I talked to seemed so blah about the whole thing. Like it was the natural thing in the world. Granted social media was new to everybody but I was making the (foolish) mistake of believing that it should behave similar to the way real human interactions did.
I didn't like that it was an interaction that I had no real say in. All I could do was Deny or Accept. And acceptance was probably the best word to describe it. It certainly wasn't the ready arms open embrace of a new friend, no it was disconnected, seemingly detached acceptance of something somebody else had proposed.
But I kept going along because as much as I detested the interaction, I still didn't want to be the guy with 15 friends on Facebook. And that is what i would have been had I been hoping for rational healthy human communication.
It was around the same time that I started my blog and started taking my mailing list more seriously. I would tell people about it, ask them for their emails, and then add them to the slowly growing list of individuals who were subjected to my 1000-word thoughts on the world week after week.
And as more and more people friended me without any interaction at all, I did something that probably wasn't the right thing to do.
I started adding them to my mailing list.
My mentality was, ya know what, if they are really that interested in being my friend then they will obviously want to be a part of this mailing list.
Yes, I am aware now that I am an a-hole and that was a jerk thing to do.
I was so angry and frustrated at these "Friends" who wouldn't so much as say hello, at Facebook, at Social Media in general.
The strange thing is though, some of those people that I subscribed without asking, became people that read my blog week after week. It's a strange sort of irony.
The size of my mailing list has certainly peaked and continues to shrink slowly in size as time goes by. This isn't something that bothers me that much as I still write mostly for myself, and sharing my art with others, at least that piece of art, is still more about doing it for me than anything else.
However, there is a strange sort of (possibly) karma afoot and it's hard for me to ignore the fact that it is in fact karma and not just a fluke.
You see, people have started adding me to their mailing lists without asking me, and it's pissing me off!
To be continued...