The Online Journal of Writer Kate Sykes
I’m not gonna lie. There’s a lot I miss about Facebook. Some of what I miss is trivial, like how my friends curated the Internet’s billions of animal videos for me, or having a brainless way to kill a few minutes of downtime. I miss the convenience of all my friends being in one place at more or less the same time. But the biggest hole it has left is a human one, the connection I felt to the community.
Since I left Facebook, I carry around a constant low-level sadness that feels like homesickness. It’s as though I just packed up all my stuff, sold my house, quit my job and moved to another city. The city I used to live in is still there, but I’m somewhere else now. I can call my old friends on the phone, but I can never live there again. I’ve lost my local status. I’m totally out of touch with what’s happening. People will get married and divorced. Restaurants will open and close. Events will occur without me receiving an invitation. Awards will be won. Kids will be born. People will die, and I won’t know about it until I happen to have a conversation with someone who still lives there.
I miss specific people, like Dini, Amy, and Jane because they’re the kind of people I’d want to be roommates with, and Facebook was the closest I could get to that. I miss some people because they live far away, and it’s harder to keep in touch when you’re in different time zones. I miss others because we were never very close to begin with, and now even the tentative bond we forged on Facebook will fade away. I miss a few people because they brought their A-game to Facebook. I mean they really put their heart and soul into it. Like Lee, Revel, Niels, and Spencer.
But I think I miss Jeff Dorchen most of all. A brilliant screenwriter, playwright and essayist, Jeff did Facebook the right way. Sure, he ranted about politics, but always thoughtfully. He also posted things like this. Whatever the heck that is. He often posted late at night, bringing a note of comedy or wistfulness to whatever 3 am existential crisis he was having. Even when I was at my most disgusted with Facebook, I could always count on his posts to make me smile before I’d had my morning coffee.
I have other ways of getting my daily dose of Dorchen. I follow him on Twitter and listen to his segment, The Moment of Truth, on Chicago talk radio show This is Hell. But people tend to put up fewer or, perhaps, different filters on Facebook, and I worry that while I’m still in touch with Jeff, the writer, I’m missing out on Jeff, my friend.
Being a member of a virtual community isn’t exactly the same as being a member of a live-and-in-person community, but it’s at least as rewarding, demanding, nuanced, exhausting, joyful and risky. When I deleted my Facebook account I was searching for an easy answer for how to marshal social media in my life, how to make it work for me, how to stay safe, and sane, and not lose hours of my day, or parts of my soul in the process, but I’m starting to see that it’s not that simple. As I put more miles between me and Facebook City, I feel like a transient, and I wonder if I’m failing some sort of test–a test of my fitness to be a member of society, any society, virtual or otherwise.