As is his wont, a former colleague of mine likes to create Facebook posts noting birthdays of people in the media. For some inexplicable reason, he posts mine every year. I appreciate it, but I’m not a “media figure,” but somebody who worked in the business for almost 3 decades. Most of us news industry veterans are not famous, and don’t aspire to be.
Anyway, he posted a link to this site, which is fine by me, but chances are it’s not compelling enough to create a following. And it’s not built to have a following, except for friends who might want to know what I’m thinking about or what I’m doing.
I know about my former colleague’s posting because for the first time in a while, I actually put something on Facebook today. Nothing exciting, just the photo of my kid’s delightful birthday card. I used to get scores of birthday wishes – a lot of them, if not most, seemingly rote and gratuitous – when I was active on Facebook, and it fed a weird neediness that bothered me after a few years. Even though I effectively dumped the site from my routine a few years ago, that neediness for birthday attention hasn’t completely gone away; in a way, it’s helped ruin birthdays for me. Last year’s particularly depressing natal day led me to decide to use that day for retreats, and then I forgot about that decision for this year. Maybe next year, God willing.
Fortunately, except for some mild health issues and crankiness related to other matters this morning, today hasn’t been that bad. And I got to thinking that, all in all, I have not missed Facebook, and that having this modest little site as a “sandbox” (to use a college friend’s term for Facebook) is infinitely healthier for me and more fun for a number of reasons:
This place has no metrics. Websites, including blogs, typically have ways to gauge readership. Micro.blog, the platform I use here, does not. Attention is not quantified here, so I’m not checking every 5 minutes to see if someone has “liked” a post or provided some witty comment or remark about how brilliant I am. Birthdays aside, I’m grateful to simply have a place – a “sandbox” – to play in.
No faceless, corporate social media behemoth is monetizing my content. Hell, I’m not even monetizing my content. That takes the fun out of creating “content.”
No comments. I don’t care about replies. I don’t care about opinions of my site. Perhaps more accurately, I don’t want to care about your approval or disapproval. And I am not obligated to provide you a platform for replies, opinions, approval – or especially mansplaining (even from some female friends), which has been a pet peeve of mine long before the word “mansplaining” became a thing. (Users of Micro.blog, which is infinitely more civilized than most social media platforms, are welcome to comment if they like when entries from this site are posted there, but I don’t always engage there, either.)
I’m not exposed to others’ political rage and anxiety. Sure, one can mute or unfollow people on social media who won’t shut the hell up about politics. But many of the friends I love the most are the biggest culprits when it comes to such noisemaking.
I’m not exposed to others’ annoying social media habits. This includes sharing of memes, lists of “my 100 favorite movies/albums/books/etc. of the past 24 hours,” lengthy hot takes on the news of the day, and personal oversharing.
Granted, I have been guilty of many of those annoying social media habits, and I have learned from my mistakes with them. On my site, I write longer posts occasionally but relegate myself to sharing links and photos and short remarks. Still, I try not to get overly personal; for instance, I no longer share full-face photos of my child (except on Instagram, where I have a private account, and even there I ask for her permission first), and if I’m going through a rough patch, I will turn privately first to my close friends and my God. That is what, in part, they are there for.
With all due respect to those who have found solace and support on Facebook or other platforms, I’ve learned that for me, life and family are too precious to squander in their entirety on the Internet. This site is plenty of space for me.