Why I’m Leaving Facebook, or, Weaning off The Feed (and Watching Finches)

I have been weaning off of social media. Yesterday, I deleted my Twitter account entirely. I’ve decided to be far less active on Facebook, except for sharing things with people who might be interested.

The Feed is was gets me. It’s too much. It’s too much all at once. I gave it a shot. I gave it ten years. I told it everything I liked and everything I didn’t. After ten years, it was all at once too much.

I don’t need all of those inputs.

I just need a few.

I don’t need to play emotional/mental/spiritual roulette, good news, bad news, red space, black. Hot takes, rants, yours and mine. Pictures of everything just so.

I don’t want all of those inputs. I want the sun, the rain, the seasons. Sometimes, I want Pennsylvania to be more like California, I think, though I’ve never been there.

I want to go there, though.

I want the inputs of voices and eyes and inflections. People stuttering and blushing. The rolled-up gum of sweat and dirt and effort in the creases of my hands.

The Feed is what gets me. It’s left me overweight and undernourished, it’s an anemic drip I’m done stabbing myself for.

Today is the first sunny day in Pennsylvania in what feels like a week. There are goldfinches outside my window, eating seed I put there just for them. They are common, people say. I have never really noticed.

Even so, they’re brilliant.

Bill Gorton on Being Daunted: A Twitter Bio for the Lost Generation

 I’m rereading Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises for the first time in many, many years.  There are problems with it.  The brief observation below about one of Bill Gorton’s better lines is in no way meant to mitigate other issues with the text. 

“Ought not to daunt you.  Never be daunted. Secret of my success.  Never been daunted.  Never been daunted in public.”

If that’s not a twitter bio for the Lost Generation, I don’t know what is.

Meta Sermons and Social Media

I’m very grateful for the opportunity I had to share the message at First Presbyterian Church yesterday at the 8:45 and 10:10 alternative services. Thank you!

I used social media to frame part of the message, saying that Pinterest had bucked conventional wisdom because it’s a platform where people share inspiring and uplifting things.  By offering a new kind of experience and an environment where generative things are shared and curated, Pinterest now drives more traffic to external sites than Twitter.

A bit of meta fun before I hit the hay:

ImageImage

Blessings, all, and peace.

A Real Live Webpage from 1996, Preserved In Its Natural Habitat; Fiction as Public Engagement

Christopher Cocca

No, not the official Berkshire Hathaway page. I’m talking about the Periodic Table of Comic Books! If you’ve been trying to cross reference an element with its appearances in various comics over the last few decades, I’ve just given you the last resource you should ever need.

If you’re trying to explain the internet of the 90s to your kids between Legends of the Hidden Temple reruns on TeenNick, this will also come in handy. See if they can find the rotating “under construction” graphic before you do.

It’s funny: in some ways, the web has always been about the compilation of trivia (personal or otherwise) and the cataloging of human interests. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook enhance and also undermine that instinct: instead of Angelfire web sites and Tripod accounts with spinning pictures and MIDI music, we give our strange fascinations over to a few centralized social networks who keep meticulous, obsessive track of everything we say we love. While these services have been used powerfully for activism, there’s an argument to made about the ways we’ve regressed as owners of our ephemera. It’s easier, I suppose, to curate our interests with posts and tweets and likes and shares than to build the online shrines that once defined the consumer internet. But those repositories had what Mike Schmidt might call a certain charm that social media doesn’t capture. Maybe I’m remembering the world that seemed possible before we got the world that came. I don’t mean that cynically. Commitment to social action X over social action Y might mean no flying cars or jetpacks, but we have no way of knowing, really, in the short term.

More knowable, it seems, are the outcomes of politics devoid of concern for environmental regulations, economic justice, the sanctity of life, and the generative renewal of our communities. If you thought I wasn’t going to get from the Periodic Table of Comic Books to public ethics in a few short steps, you might not know that The New School (MFA ’11) just announced organizational changes to some of their graduate programs. The writing program, of which I am a proud graduate, is now part of the newly-named School of Public Engagement. TNS is making a bold cultural and political statement here: poets, fiction writers, and essayists trade in public engagement as a matter of vocation and as a matter of fact. It’s probably no coincidence that former TNS president Bob Kerrey shared similar sentiments with my entire class on the first night of our program.

Bloggers, artists, writers, musicians, comic book creators, coders, scientists, actors, preachers…the list goes on and on. We are enlisted in the craft, and it is a craft, of public engagement. The evolution of the social web from siloed shrines of quirky interest to the integrated platforms of curation, criticism, and creation shows just how powerful our drive to contribute something back to the avalanche of corporate politics, media, and culture-making really is.

It’s ironic and subversive that we do it on the corporate platforms of companies that make millions delivering targeted ads based on the content we create and share in resistance to the monolithic messages of people with vested interests in framing these conversations in very specific ways. That’s the world we live in, for better and for worse.

Let’s keep making it for the better.  And when you need a break, check out the Periodic Table of Comic Books.  And don’t forget to sleep.

Drew Olanoff on Klout and Doing Things

Image representing Klout as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

An excerpt from “Klout Is Breaking Up With Early Adopters”  at The Next Web:

 

Klout is going after middle-American novice tweeters who might have mentioned a body spray once or twice. With its service, Axe could reach people like that directly in large bunches and give them samples of new products.

How do we know this? Because Klout recently changed its scoring algorithm. People absolutely lost their minds in the comments on the post and on Twitter.

This type of comment was posted over and over again there:

Very unhappy with this change. My score went from 73 down to 53. 20 point drop. I’ve been working for months to increase my Klout score. Please fix this.

This is proof that people who are “working” on being relevant shouldn’t use any type of service. As my good friend Alex Hillman says and has tattooed on his arm, “JFDI”. Just do it, and don’t worry about what you’re getting out of it, and all will be fine.

 

He’s right, isn’t he?  It’s tempting to worry about Klout, to obsess about why your Facebook friend count is down or why someone stopped following your blog.  It’s easy to fixate on stats.  Just do what you like and do it well.  Curate that beauty and be that unique voice.

Also: It can’t be a coincidence that JFDI is just one letter from Jedi.

 

How Should We Talk About How We Spend our Part of the Phantom Trillion?

A second (in some cases third or fourth) thank you to everyone sharing and talking about the phantom trillion piece on Huffington.  Yesterday I asked people for ideas about mobilizing their share of the phantom trillion toward direct impact in places where it matters most and how to encourage others to do the same.  Brian Sun had this to share:

Initial thoughts about how to start change from the ground up:

I need to change first.

Meaning, the individual people who read, commented, shared, and agree that the phantom trillion from the Body of Christ could “feed everyone, clothe everyone, give everyone access to water, heal the land, clean the water, and clean the air in perpetuity” need to examine their individual lives’ and ask: Am I tithing?

If the answer is no (yet you still said amen to article), then why not? Then identify the barriers, talk to a friend about it, and make the next step towards giving a tenth part of your income. That’s change from the ground up.

If the answer is yes, then why? Then share why you’re tithing with one of your Christian friends who is not tithing. That’s change from the ground up.

Once we (Christians) understand “the economic power we possess and the practical implications of loving one’s neighbor as oneself, this phantom trillion would find its way to points of need.” The action step in this is if you’re tithing to your church: find out if you can be a voice in where the money is spent. Granted, the lights need to stay on, but “investing 10 percent of its (the Church’s) annual income to overcome the systems of injustice, hate, and other things we still call sin” is essential. That’s change from the ground up.

Or if you’re a Christian who is cool with tithing to charity:water, Compassion, World Vision, and other legit charities, tell your friends about them. That’s change from the ground up.

Now let’s get started.

These are important points.  Each starts with honesty in relationships.  Being honest with ourselves, being honest with friends about why we do what we do, being honest about our expectations that other Christians  wrestle with this issue (and come out on the side of ending poverty), being honest with church boards (or non-profits) and demanding honesty from them.

Immediately, I thought of tweeting something like “I just bought _X___ fruit trees and donated _$Y__ to the Most Urgent Need Fund through WorldVision. Will you match me?”  But there’s a whole lot of stuff that comes along with filling in those blanks with actual numbers, isn’t there?  On one hand, I’m of the mind that the time has long come to stop being polite about our expectations of each other.  Even so, there’s a thousand degrees of nuance I know should be reserved for that kind of statement.  Twitter is not a vehicle of nuance.  Neither are hunger or thirst or famine or war.  But using numbers invites the old charge that we’re doing this to show how good or giving we are, even though I’m saying the time has come to get serious because of how bad we’ve generally been.

I looked again at Brian’s comments, and I noticed that he said we ought to be sharing why we give.  He’s also implying, I think, some heavy one-one-one conversations where filling in those blanks isn’t boastful or embarrassing and might mean real encouragement for others.

In the context of WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc, I’d encourage everyone to talk freely about which campaigns they support and why they support them.  Tell us why you tithe or how you think about tithing.  Tell us if you believe that a tithe to charity: water, WorldVision, or Compassion International can (should!) take the place of a “church tithe” in your context.

In the meantime, I’m going to tweet my Will You Match Me? tweet with blank spaces intact.  And I’ll make a point of talking to my friends in person about why I think they should match me if they can.

No, this is not a master plan.  But we need to give with these intentions and share these intentions with others.  People already making a point of doing these things or who are just starting to also need each other for encouragement.  Please come share your experiences with me/the readers of this blog any time.

I just tithed 10 percent of my first paycheck as Director of Mission at First Prebyterian Church of Allentown, PA to buy __ fruit trees and give __ dollars to the Most Needed Fund through WorldVision.  Will you match me with a 10 percent tithe of your income this week?