Thursday, May 20, 2010

On leaving Facebook

I miss Facebook.

A week ago today, I finally got fed up with "Facebook drama" - a phenomenon to which, after my five years on Facebook, I thought I might be immune. Until a couple of months ago, when I was reminded just how easy it is to disprove a rule. I was more upset with caring about what people did on Facebook than with what was happening; add in the amount of time I feel I waste there, and it was time for a hiatus. So I deactivated my account.

But I do, in fact, miss the updates; I feel a little cut off. It's surprising how quickly the Facebook world recedes, how easy it is to feel like nothing's happening if you're not witnessing it. It's a little harder to get in touch with some people, a little more stressful; I'm not communicating with acquaintances, only closer friends.

I'm not ready to go back yet, but I know it's only a matter of time - especially as I miss some of the particularly useful elements. I have not been able to utilize the group I made for summer interns; I made a new profile specifically to run such a group, but I find myself reluctant to use it. Perhaps even more importantly, I also think Facebook might be useful to a research decision I have to make.

For me, the most effective way to do research has long been to print a wastefully large stack of articles - journal, newspaper, magazine, et. al - and mark them up with black pen and yellow highlighter. I deeply appreciate the wide margins of journal articles for this purpose. There is something about pen and paper, the immediacy of being able to highlight something that grabs me and scribble a note as to why, that gives me a record of my first response which I otherwise lose in the aether of consciousness.

However, I dislike carting around a large stack of paper almost as much as I dislike wasting reams of it in the first place. So although this is the "most effective" way for me to do my research, it is not effective enough. Now that I am preparing to write my thesis - on something that will require current research, a pile to which I will probably add a short article or two a day - I need another method.

Enter Facebook. It immediately occurred to me that I could take the option of having a "Links" tab at the top of my profile and add links to my research to that. This way, I could effectively share my research and get responses to at least some of it, sneakily pushing discussion of my thesis topic on all my 800 friends. Or the 200 that actually comment on my wall, anyway.

Twitter could potentially serve a similar function, and I need to start making use of that particular social media. But I don't think it would arrange the links in a really easily accessible way.

The added problem is that these formats allow me to save the locations of my research, but not my comments on it - perpetuating the loss of those invaluable initial thoughts. So they don't solve my research problem...but I still really like the idea of publishing my ongoing research via Facebook links.

Thoughts? Suggestions?

On a slightly more personal note - okay, okay, so "more often" updating I promised is "once a month" rather than "once in eight months," instead of the once a day I aim for. But I'm getting there. The semester is mostly concluded; I still have quite a bit of work to finish for one class, but it's manageable. Unmanageable at the moment is my schedule otherwise. I took a serving job at a new and exciting restaurant focused on sustainable practices...and leading up to the opening, I'm there for long shifts every day. The interns are also starting at the newspaper in dribbles and drabs, and I expect to have the full complement by Monday at 11 a.m.

Summer? Vacation? What are those things? =D However, I am energized by the projects at hand. I'm still more focused on taking it easy than I used to be; I am prioritizing rest (as Mark, my forensics coach, used to say: Protect your rest!). There aren't enough hours in the day for all I want to accomplish right now, but that doesn't mean I should hurl myself against the brick wall of exhaustion for longer than necessary - it means prioritizing.

In closing, here is one article that I'm looking at this morning, an impressively well-writing rumination on the pleasures and perils of Twitterporting: Tweet the Press.

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