The rush of the real. Facebook’s effect on my brain, senses and social ability.

My friend Murray and I were talking on the way to the airport about this time last week. It was an early 4.30am drive, the freeway quiet, the orange glow of hot air balloons gently bobbing above the city like chinese lanterns.

The stretch of time laid out like the open road before us. One uninterrupted hour with an old friend, conditions to incite the type of flow in conversations where one idea bounces easily to the next.

The exhilaration of having a fresh, meaningful conversation wasn’t something I used to think about. Definitely wasn’t something which motivated me to write it down and describe it. Yet now, here it is.

After two weeks in Melbourne, the town I grew up in, I was heading back to New York, my home for the past two years. Murray waved goodbye. Until the next time we were face-to-face, we typically would piece together each other’s lives through Facebook, buoy our friendship through likes of baby pictures and Brooklyn, and scrawl quick messages on the social network’s walls.

That’s when I decided it was time for me to deactivate. Sounds so dramatic. Not really, and not like it was anything new or progressive, friends had dropped out of the Facebook world a few years back, blogs have been written, books even, people coming to this point a lot earlier than I did.

I wanted to share the thoughts around switching off Facey  as a post here as much to record the experiment and my own state of mind at this point, as to stimulate thinking and opinion about why individuals are increasingly moving away from Facebook. Group effects of Facebook aside (which is far more interesting but harder for me to write), here’s a diary of what I’ve noticed happening to me personally. So bail out from the post now if you don’t want to get personal :)

The creeping desire to deactivate Facebook (and it was a slow, creeping feeling) was not just because I felt it had robbed me of the commune of real conversation. It wasn’t Facebook’s fault I didn’t pick up a phone to maintain a friendship between visits home. That was on me. Facebook has had a profound effect on my desire to engage in these moments of genuine friendship when there was an “easier” option.

Troubling as that behaviour was, it was the general (mental) space invasion of a social network  I’d never anticipated that really put ants in my pants. When faced with an “empty” moment like riding the subway, laying in bed, sitting on the toilet (yes, really and true for 86% of the population), even walking down the street, it had started to seem unproductive if I didn’t do something else. Distraction is the new normal state of being. Giving my undivided attention to someone, including my own mind wasn’t enough. These empty spaces of time and thought now wanted to be filled!  The perfect oxygen for Facebook.

Basically over the past year I noticed my ability to turn over ideas, to wander alone and together in conversation, particularly deeply, has been impaired. And worse, I didn’t really care.

This is my first blog post in over a year. A slightly awkward ramble but it is another reminder of how I’ve become a digital sloth. While Facebook has been steering me away from making things and connections deeper than likes on pretty photos, the net effect is a divot in personal development.

As Sheryl Turkle said in an interview last year “We are letting technology take us places we don’t want to go.”

And instead of dissing technology, I’m hoping by switching off for a bit I can better understand how technology like Facebook can lead us back to our real lives instead of away from it.

About these ads

29 thoughts on “The rush of the real. Facebook’s effect on my brain, senses and social ability.

  1. Hearty, sincere and slightly gushing congratulations! You just articulated what I have been thinking and feeling for a while now, except that you have expressed it far better than I.

    What a wonderful reflection!

  2. Bryony I love this!! In theory! Funnily enough back when Google+ first arrived on the scene a friend of mine Steve Colman and I decided we’d be ahead of the pack and quit Facebook. We proudly erected signs where our Facebook profile pics once stood saying “Gone to Google +”. It didn’t last and we’re both back (our G+ profiles are dormant!). Obviously your departure has nothing to do with being on trend (I think we were just being wankers actually) but getting back to real life conversations, connections and being more focused. And I love that, god knows I need it. But – the thing about Facebook is that it allows me to stay connected to so many people I probably wouldn’t stay connected to otherwise. As an expat living in New York City like you, that’s super important to me. Please keep blogging as we neeeeeed to hear from you more than once a year! I am also super interested in hearing about how this turns out and I’m wondering if there is a happy medium? If you need a pilot group for an experiment on this subject sing out! :)

  3. Thanks for posting this Bryony. I have often debated whether to stay on or off but then I think, “how will people contact me, or how will I know what people are up to?.” And although it has kept me connected to folks I have met around the world it also creates an enormous amount of frustration. You have heard me complain about this in the office but I end up just re-reading the most ridiculous statuses that make me question the intelligence of our population. That’s why I love riding the subway where my signal does not work. Gives me an opportunity to look up and notice the most interesting people that roam this city. As Luke mentioned above, I’m interested to hear your feedback on this because I also hope there is a happy medium.

  4. Great sharings Bryony, I would say hardly rambly at all !

    Would you say that your engagement with Facebook has distracted you from sharing longer, more thought-out blogs in the past year?

    I have had to deal with my own ebbs and flows in how much I use Facey… but now feel that its all just a matter of habit. For example, I write about a morning practice without it (and other digital distractions) on Medium:
    https://medium.com/better-humans/b150ccbe01ec

  5. Today, I went to the beachfront with my children. I found
    a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear and screamed.
    There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.
    She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is entirely off topic but I had to tell someone!

  6. Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this post plus the rest of the site
    is also really good.

  7. These upgrades are really where this sports management sim is won and lost,
    by giving your team the best tools to improve.
    There is definitely a push for Tupperware recruiting.
    There will be times when you look over your shoulder, wistful
    for the days of being his better half.

  8. It’s perfect time to make some plans for the future and it’s time to be happy.
    I have read this post and if I could I want to suggest you some interesting things or advice.
    Perhaps you could write next articles referring to this article.

    I desire to read even more things about it!

  9. Once you create your Expert Page, you can also begin networking with other Experts on. You
    pay only for reasonably good matches recog nized by your potential customers.
    You’ll have to first verify that you own the domain.

  10. We absolutely love your blog and find almost all of your post’s to be precisely what I’m looking for.
    Do you offer guest writers to write content for you?

    I wouldn’t mind publishing a post or elaborating on a few of the subjects you write with regards to
    here. Again, awesome web site!

  11. I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good.
    I don’t know who you are but definitely you are going to a
    famous blogger if you aren’t already ;) Cheers!

  12. If some one wants expert view on the topic of blogging and site-building afterward i suggest him/her to visit this blog, Keep
    up the nice job.

  13. Yesterday, while I was at work, my cousin stole
    my apple ipad and tested to see if it can survive a 25 foot drop, just so
    she can be a youtube sensation. My iPad is now destroyed and she
    has 83 views. I know this is completely off topic but I had
    to share it with someone!

  14. I get pleasure from, result in I found just what I was taking a look
    for. You’ve ended my four day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day.
    Bye

  15. I was recommended this blog by way of my cousin. I’m now not certain whether or not
    this put up is written by way of him as no one else recognize such
    precise approximately my problem. You are incredible!
    Thanks!

  16. Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear.

    Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyhow, just wanted
    to say great blog!

  17. Gold jewelry can work with just about any other color dress, from classic
    black and white to pink and more. Don’t be guilty of the same kinds of assumptions,
    however. If the establishment is co-educational, then there
    are separate arrangements for lodging.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s