I’ve been among social media‘s biggest fans. From the beginning, I’ve seen the benefits and the upsides of it in ways I think most people don’t, and perhaps can’t. In the chronological blink of an eye, the world connected in a way that would have seemed like magic only 100-years ago.
And because I’ve seen and focused more on the positive aspects of social media, I’ve been resistant to criticize it, let alone estrange myself from it. That’s not to suggest I don’t recognize the downsides of it all. It’s just my perspective has been that social media, like any tool, is only as good, or bad, as the intentions it’s used with. For my part, I’ve tried to use it with good intentions.
I’ll admit though, it’s getting harder these days. Social media, Facebook in particular, has become an outlet for so much hate, negativity, and ignorance that, at times, it overwhelms and depresses me. I truly don’t know what people are trying to accomplish by using it in these ways, but my feed has taken a noticeable tilt toward the darker side.
And the thing is, my friends and connections haven’t really changed through the years. What’s changed has been the world around us — and how (ordinarily) good people are reacting poorly to those changes. How we respond to the changing world defines who we are. I don’t know, I guess we just all need somebody to hate — and a place to scream.
And no, this isn’t where I’m going to say I’m walking away from social media or taking a break for a few weeks. I still see the upside, and I’m still grateful for the interactions I have with like-minded people in matters of philosophy, humor, and the arts.
It’s interesting though, and this is not new…
Much of what I think about when I ride my bikes through the hills of North County each day is the interactions I have with others on my social media platforms. I think about it as I pedal — the good, the bad, and the ugly of my feeds.
Oh, and there’s this…
If I get hit by a car later today, and not survive, I’d be very proud of the social media legacy I’d leave behind — my digital imprint on the world. It’s honest. It represents me well. It involves no malice. It’s all been done with good intentions. I’m not sure how many people can say that. Some days, I’m not sure any people can say that. I can only say that I wish more people used social media this way.
Funny — in a life where I’ve fucked up pretty much everything I’ve ever done, it’s ironic that social media is one of the few things I do well. At least I think I do it well.
This is what I think about when a ride… Jhciacb
This week by the numbers…
Bikes Ridden: 6
Mph Avg: 15.6
Seat Time: 10 hours 45 minutes
Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Ryan Adams. Enjoy…
It’s 430am. Fresh out of the shower, and despite only five broken hours of sleep, my body slowly comes to life. I sit on the sofa breathing in the fragrance of Don Francisco‘s vanilla coffee, which sits on the table beside me in a cup from the 2016 Rose Bowl. I grab it with my left hand, raise it to mouth, and take the first sip.
The metamorphosis begins — the sleepy caterpillar emerges from the cocoon of the night and in less than 20-minutes becomes a functional human being. The first sip of coffee awakens my senses and sends a gentle pulse through my body. It’s the most pure moment of my day.
On the table beside my coffee cup is a small dish of carpet tacks. As the first taste of coffee fades, but before I take a second sip, I grab a small handful of the carpet tacks and put them in my mouth. I begin chewing them. There’s a shock as the steel tacks collide with the enamel on my teeth. Pain manifests as the sharp tips pierce my tongue and the roof of my mouth. The lingering flavor of coffee gives way to the taste of blood.
I force myself to chew them, despite the shock and pain. Every closure of my jaws sends a jolt through my body and I’m more awake but less alive as I force myself to continue chewing. I want to spit them out, but I’m addicted to the pain. Of course I don’t really chew a handful of carpet tacks each morning. I log onto Facebook, but it’s a fair comparison.
For all the pleasure and awakening that my shower and coffee provide me each morning, that mood is killed as immediately as I see the first signs of hatred, argument, and ignorance being tossed around on Facebook. Still, I wake up and do it again, day after day. Something’s gotta give. Maybe.
For over a decade, the coffee and the carpet tacks have gone together. I’ve seen them as interconnected — can’t have one without the other. That said, the carpet tacks weren’t always steel or sharp. They weren’t even carpet tacks. In the beginning, they were more like coffee grounds from the bottom of the cup — a little bit course and bitter, but an easy inconvenience to bypass.
Somewhere, between 2010 and 2016, people’s attitudes towards one another began to change. By mid 2015, I was chewing carpet tacks every morning, in equal portion to the coffee I was sipping. And maybe I’m not really talking about coffee either. Maybe that too is a metaphor for the positive friendships and interactions I’ve come to appreciate each morning on Facebook.
There’s Bill and Ron up in Barsdale, Pete in Brisbane, Lara in Vacaville, Dawn in Valley Center, and Judy in upstate New York, to name a few. There’s Tim in Steamboat and another Tim in Utrecht. Mike in Virginia. There are many others. It’s been like a virtual coffee house, where humor, greetings, and casual pats on the back are exchanged. Information, photographs, and music are shared, and a camaraderie exists that rival a coffee shop, a pub, or the cardio theater in any gym.
But then there’s the carpet tacks.
Anyone who knows me understands the struggles I’ve had negotiating this duality for the past few years. A large part of me says to just walk away — forget Facebook and all the negativity. I should invest that time in anything more productive. For a long time I’ve resisted that desire, always seeing the positive side of Facebook as being greater than negative. Recently though, if I’m being honest, the negative side has grown to monstrous proportions.
I’ve begun to throw it out there that I intend to delete my Facebook page, and may do so as soon as this week. Every time I think about it though, I think about the value of those relationships — those people in other places, near and far, that enhance my days and enrich my life for what they bring to the table each morning and each evening.
That’s where my real struggle is — throwing out the baby with the bathwater.
As I write this, and as a pedal through my community each day, I spend much of my time considering whether or not Facebook should be a part of my future. I value those relationships, but have so much disdain for all the ugliness, ignorance, and hatred I must wade through to get to the good stuff.
I don’t know. I just don’t know.
Of course the obvious solution is to limit my time on Facebook and amend my connections. Perhaps I’ll give this a try, but the more likely solution is to just walk away. If I do walk away, I’ll continue to write for this blog weekly, and possibly more frequently. I’ll keep you posted.
This is what I think about when a ride… Jhciacb
This Week By The Numbers…
Bikes Ridden: 7
15.0 mph avg
12 hours 58 minutes seat time
Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Otis Gibbs. Enjoy…
Like many, after a more than a decade, I still wonder how social media, Facebook in particular, should fit into my life. I still wonder whether it should be a part of my life at all. And in my quietest moments, I’m often concerned about the influence social media has had on my personality.
In 2006 my life and business were on autopilot. My days were evenly divided between working, exercising, and reading books on religion and philosophy. I didn’t even own a television and I wouldn’t have changed anything. Well into my 40s, for the first time in years, I felt like I was in a good place.
Around that time, I started a fitness blog, partially to bring credibility to my business, but also to speak out about an industry that had become so perverted that I no longer recognized it. One day a friend, a tech-industry insider, suggested that the up and coming social media platform, Facebook, would be a great vehicle to share my writing. She felt Facebook would become, in a short amount of time, the most used form of mass-communication the world had ever seen.
At the time, my internet use was limited to my fitness blog and email only. There was no Netflix streaming, YouTube was in its infancy, and my time on keyboard each day could be measured in minutes, not hours.
Subtly though, over a period of just a couple of years, I began spending more more time on my computer. At that time, I still used a desktop PC — this was 2007 or so. Checking my email, Facebook, and responding to comments on my blog usually took place at the beginning of the day or at the end of the day. If time and circumstance allowed, I might check these media in the middle of the day, but not often.
In 2008, I bought my first laptop. With Wi-Fi being more established in restaurants, coffee houses, and other public places, I began taking my computer with me just about everywhere, mostly so I could write if I was so inspired, and if had the time. I also checked email and Facebook messages more frequently.
In 2013, I got my first smartphone, an iPhone 3. That’s when the quantity of wormholes, and the gravity inside them increased. The camera on my iPhone was better than the point-and-shoot camera I took with me on my hikes. I developed an affinity for smartphone photography. As better apps and filters were being developed to support my photo habit, more platforms manifest to share those pictures, such as Hipstamatic and later Instagram. I began a seamless progression onto the social media road that I still walk today.
Facebook though, was a superior outlet because I could share both my writing as well as my photographs. Facebook was growing fast though and changing form from week to week. The increasing network of warmholes and tunnels were so easily drawn into, that at least a part of my psyche began to reside there, even when I was away from my phone or computer.
Viscerally, I was becoming aware of the negative impact this could have on my time, but I was also becoming concerned about any impact it might have on my personality. I regularly questioned whether this increase of screen time was healthy, though I never answered those questions. This might be analogous to someone enjoying a glass of wine with dinner each evening, but on the inside, knowing the 2nd and 3rd glasses were not as easily justified.
My pattern has been pretty consistent for the last 4 or 5 years — I take a lot of pictures, I write, and I share. Seems harmless, and a good creative outlet, yes…?
“If you’re going to the prom, you best be prepared to dance with them who brung ya…” Bum Phillips
The world has changed a great deal in the last 13 or 14 years since Facebook and other social media platforms took off. What has changed the most, is the profound impact social media has had on journalism, institutions, as well the unscrupulous companies pitching their wares while simultaneously mining for personal data. It’s a web of agenda and manipulation the likes of which the world has never seen — one I willingly step into every day.
What began as a platform for social interconnectivity, not only gave everyone a vehicle for their own voice, but each vehicle came with its own road. Within a few years, people and institutions were speeding, changing lanes without looking, changing roads without looking, doing countless U-turns, and constantly changing directions — and there were few rules and even less enforcement. Using social media became a lot like driving in Athens — one is best served to have diligence, patience, a good eye for deception, and a backup plan.
What makes any technology worthwhile is when it’s used for its highest purpose and with the best of intentions. I have no problem saying that most people and most agencies don’t do this with Facebook and other social media platforms. People and institutions, for the most part, behave like children on an unsupervised playground.
I can say with honesty that Facebook and other platforms have enhanced my life in ways I would have never imagined back in 2006. Many aspects of my life have improved due to the connections I’ve made and the information that’s been shared among and between those connections. I’m grateful all of this happened in my lifetime.
Facebook is a generic term to me. It’s not a company, it’s an idea that would have happened anyway, and by any other name. Social media was going to happen no matter what. Facebook just got in line first. Facebook may be broken up by the government in time. It may sell itself into pieces — of its own accord. It may even go into bankrupt someday and come out with a completely different structure. It might even dissolve entirely, if pressed by a competitor which can offer more, although that’s not likely (see Microsoft).
If Facebook disappeared tomorrow, a vacuum would be formed so quickly, it would be replaced within weeks, or sooner. It isn’t Facebook the company which has changed the world so much. It’s been the ability to communicate so quickly and with so many people — social media is about the efficiency of being human. How we continue to use this technology is up to us, but it’s not going anywhere. I still plan to use it for purposes of good, how about you…?
Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from James Reyne. Enjoy…