Nearly 4 years ago on Yahoo, at the suggestion of a friend who lives far away, I started this little turd of a blog. My friend was convinced this blogging thing would be an effective way to keep up with each others’ lives and feel more connected even though, geographically speaking, we were very very disconnected. As a new arrival in Nashville, knowing absolutely NO ONE here, it seemed like a good idea to me; a seductive lifeline to keep loneliness at bay.
The blogosphere wasn’t completely foreign to me. I had been reading the two separate blogs of long-distance friends on Live Journal for a few months and it really DID seem to let me into their lives a little despite the fact that we saw each other face-to-face maybe once a year. I was convinced that reading about their lives, even though I wasn’t a participant, connected us in a unique way.
And yet, recently I have seriously considered the cessation of all blogging endeavors because increasingly it is making me sad and leaving me feeling ever more disconnected, the exact opposite effect for which it was intended.
Here’s the problem: relationships of any kind require two-way interaction. It’s not enough for me to broadcast my life to the world without any kind of feedback or exchange. If I read about someone’s life and do not comment, there is no relationship. Worse perhaps, if I DO comment on someone’s blog and they do not respond to or acknowledge the feedback, there is no relationship. I am guilty of all of the above.
While blogging, Facebook, and Twitter seem like reasonable solutions to the problem of loneliness experienced by a more and more mobile population, for me personally, utilizing these tools has made me feel more isolated than ever. Of course I actively participate in my own life – and I love my life – but through blogging and Facebook, I am merely an outside observer to the lives of my friends.
To say that blogging (and Twitter, Facebook, even email) is anti-social and enhances disconnectedness is to render the user(s) blameless. If someone tries to use technological communication as a sole means of maintaining relationships, they are probably using it in the wrong way. But that’s what it’s come to. I have never been a heavy phone user – just not my preferred medium. Never has been. Especially now with cell phones, lengthy long distance phone calls can be made cumbersome with fuzzy or sporadic reception. And I simply do not make time to really get comfortable and have a long phone conversation where I am focused 100% on the person I’m talking to. It’s dreadful, but it seems somehow decadent to laze around on the phone doing absolutely nothing but talking (I absolutely refuse to talk on the phone while driving).
I use to write extensive letters to maintain contact and relationships with long distance friends. Then I switched to email. It was faster. But with faster, came higher expectations. Replies should be quicker, right? But we all get so much fucking email every single day. And soon the email I intended to reply to has been lingering in my inbox for well over a month and I feel like I should respond but I can’t just type off a quick response, it has to be meaningful or what’s the point? So it lingers still while I try to find time to reply properly.
A year ago, after much deliberation, I finally bit the bullet and joined Facebook thinking this, at last, was the perfect way to be connected to friends. Alas. I despise Facebook. Obviously I’m in the minority. I guess I just don’t get it; I don’t appreciate it or enjoy it the way others seem to. Perhaps if I actually posted something, anything, to my Facebook page, I would feel more connected. The problem is that I rarely think I have anything evenly remotely interesting to post. Again, obviously I am in the minority in my thinking.
Anyway, I guess partly why I’ve lapsed in my blogging endeavors lately is that sometimes it just seems mostly pointless and only serves to make me feel even more disconnected than I already do.
Don’t think that I solely lay the blame of my isolation feelings at the feet of technology. I seem to go through hermit phases – some more lengthy than others – where I find it difficult to participate in anyone’s life but my own. I think it’s genetic. I suppose this blog post could indicate I am emerging from one of these phases. We’ll see.