Sharing Isn't Caring

This is an pretty old post from my blog, which has been preserved in case its content is of any interest. You might want to go back to the homepage to see some more recent stuff.

Like many angsty young adults, I spent the last few months of my time at University wondering what would become of the friendships I’d made there — which friends I’d keep in touch with; how often I’d see them. Having lived and worked with many of them, and shared each other’s lives in such minute detail, how could I deal with not having that constant interaction any more?

Then, something magical happened.

Facebook app running on an iPod Touch

Suddenly, it was like the old times were back again. We could stay in touch forever, and share the minutiae of our lives just like always.

But since then, it’s kind of taken over. I’ve caught myself checking Twitter and Facebook on my phone while crossing the street, as if that iota of interaction couldn’t wait thirty seconds for me to ensure my own safety. People have started talking to me while I was using my phone, and in my mind it was the phone that had priority and them that was the inconvenience.

I saw this comic the other day, and although its charicature of the social networking-obsessed user is a long way from the way I act most of the time, the intention behind it still rings true.

Art (c) Gavin Aung Than of

How did we get to a point where I would rather share some witticism I think of with the internet at large than with my own wife, who matters far more to me than the rest of the web ever could? Why do I regularly spend my evenings idly refreshing Facebook, then complain that the flat is a mess because I never have time to do chores?

This culture we created of over-sharing our own experiences and being glued to a screen awaiting what our friends share seems to be cheapening our interactions with the real world. It’s escapism from something I no longer want to escape.

If I am allowed to make “mid-year’s resolutions”, I resolve to share less of my life online, and to spend less time refreshing a page waiting for others to share their lives. It’s no bad thing to wait a few days to see what friends are up to, if it means spending more time caring about my family, my home; the things that I’m sad to say are more important than friends and certainly more important than the retweets and “likes” of strangers.


Sort of broadly relevant:

I think deliberate (mindful) use of social networking can be a broadly useful thing, worth making some time for. But that it can help spread social connections over time and distance, and provide a very powerful organisational tool doesn't make it any less of a skinner box.

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