Only a couple of years ago, we kept up with friends by reading their blogs. By now, gone are most of the family blogs, because they have migrated to Facebook; we are the only people we know without active Facebook pages.
And here we are, not only failing to catch up with the times but willfully falling further behind by actually starting a new blog instead. Why would that be? Why not take the easier path? Several reasons:
- Facebook as a medium encourages short statements of fact or opinion, but militates against sustained narrative prose or reasoning. It is Twitter’s more respectable cousin.
- Facebook as a networking system puts pressure on users to accept unlimited contacts by couching itself in terms of friendship: unless you accept someone’s request for admission to the show, you are not his or her “friend”. Just this week, Facebook said to me concerning my live-in brother-in-law, “You are not Robert’s friend.”
- Facebook in fact uses the metaphor of face-to-face contact systematically to suggest that being “connected” is equivalent to being “in community with”, that “connectivity” is the same as “communion”. By taking this line, it actually tries to demote true personal communion to its own level. It is the enemy of actual face-to-face exchange; it is Facelessbook.
- If we all give in to Facelessbook, it will become socially and professionally required, like the cell phone my employer imposed on me. It already is in some fields. Resistance is futile in the end, but in the meantime one can make a symbolic gesture, like hoisting one’s native flag over invader’s camp.
More positively, this was an opportunity to build my own website, use a web hosting service, and do all the FTP and Admin and other cool stuff, and it’s geeky fun to learn.
A blog actually encourages me to write, and writing is food for my soul. My wife wants to write more, too. While some argue that lengthy prose is inappropriate for the Internet, lots of blogs out there prove them wrong every day; while the blog lends itself well to short stuff, it is not opposed to long stuff like PublicSpace, Facelessbook, or Twitter (no need to parody that last one!). For more, see Fr. Hardon’s “Writing and the Spiritual Life”.
So you still won’t see us on Facelessbook, even though it is an easy way to stay in touch with lots of people–as easy as falling off a blog.