Tuesday, January 11, 2011

F....b you

I quickly went over the numbers. I started this blog in April of 2006 and published 73 posts that same year. I wrote 64 in 2007, 42 in 2008, 53 in 2009 and 37 posts in 2010. Obviously it’s a declining trend but what disturbs me to a larger extent is that most of the blogs I followed regularly over these last few years have all but become inactive. Of course everybody is on Facebook now. In 2010 there was more facebooking than googling so it’s easy to imagine the huge impact it must’ve had on blogging.


Facebook is fulfilling a crucial role in our online lives or it would’ve flipped belly up like many other failed attempts at social networking. The fact that I don’t personally quite appreciate it doesn’t detract from my understanding of its popularity and appeal. I go there because that’s where many of my friends hang out and I’m always thrilled to “get together” with them for a quick, often, entertaining exchange. In that respect I see Facebook as a waterhole for buddies to chill out and catch up with the bits and pieces of what’s going on in their lives. Yet I’m really curious about another matter. Did my blogging chums stopped writing (or are writing much less) because they are spending most of their “free” online time on Facebook? Are avid readers, who happen to be Internet users, reading less in print and online? What about photographers, athletes, hobbyists, poets, lovers? Are they doing less of what they used to do in exchange for more time on Facebook?

In 1964 Marshall McLuhan published Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. He coined what later became an iconic phrase: “The medium is the message.” This statement could be interpreted in several ways, varying in scope and significance from the absurd to the substantial, but let me get back to Facebook. If we were to consider our presence there to be more than a recreational break (an evening at the pub) what is it really we are attempting to achieve? Having fun, just chatting, hanging out, doing nothing, checking to see what my neighbor is cooking are all legitimate answers. Communicating! That’s what I do when I’m on Facebook myself, socialize with my friends and occasionally meet new ones. So yes I can see the appeal for lonely people to go there and possibly meet someone interesting. There’s also the chance of getting rejected, having a one-night stand or even starting a relationship and falling in love. This is exactly what one expects from frequenting singles bars and night clubs. But don’t you agree that we have a better chance of meeting someone more interesting at the Louvres for instance than at the Moulin Rouge? In this post I am targeting those who enjoy museums, or bookstores, or art galleries, or discovering cultures rather than hotels and malls and who, at the end of the day, are able to create an intellectually or sensory pleasurable product to share with the rest of us. Has Facebook consumed the time you previously spent on being... creative? I’m really curious to know.

The cultural effects of social networking sites such as Facebook are tremendous and will continue to grow exponentially. The purpose of this extremely simple article is not to criticise this sweeping cultural trend in a destructive manner but to wonder whether an activity such as Facebooking has negatively affected creative people to have less time to do what they used to do best. I am aware that we can relay information on Facebook by linking, copying and parroting but can we actually create anything new? I love what a few of my friends are doing there, advertising their craft, their talent, their own fruits. I also admire whoever promote a cause they strongly believe in. However, I feel somehow cheated by those who have put their fertile minds to rest and are facebooking their time away and depriving me of their originality. I would really love to hear your answers, if you are still reading my blog that is :-)

25 comments:

Gabriela said...

I'm still reading your blog. And I'm not a Facebook user. It's not that I criticize those who are, it's only that I don't find the point of that much exposure.
I opened an account there, and close it up 24 hours later. I wan't that much convinced, but decided to take a look. My only goal was to know the "monster" from the inside, and what I saw didn't convince me at all.
I was so surprised to find out that people from my sister's class (two years younger tant me) were requesting my "friendship". I mean, if I came across with those people at the street they probably wouldn't recongnize me.
For now I'm not a Facebook user. And as depends on me only, I won't be a Facebook user.
So I guess you'll have me as a reader for a long time!
;)

Isobel said...

Hey! I'm doing both...wow, do I ever feel good about myself. ;) I can totally understand why people are reluctant to use fb and at times I've thought about closing my account. Then again, there are other times when I'm glad to be there. After spending so many years on it, I can honestly say that I've gotten good at scanning it for interesting info in very little time...and it's usually the creative stuff I enjoy - photos, blog posts, and causes.

I've noticed the same trend in blogging, Abufares, which, as a blogger, is disheartening because I still enjoy it. I love reading other people's posts, and I love the interaction and exchange of ideas.

Excellent post, Abufares. I very much enjoy your writing. Don't stop no matter what they say, or don't say, on Facebook! :)

Isobel said...

Oh, and ironically, I used FB to promote your post. :D

Omar said...

Yislam timmak Abufares. You know there not a day that goes by where I don't think I should blog about this, and I never do. I do however spend a lot of time on facebook. I think on one level, facebook quenches that thirst for an exchange with this person or that. Although with blogging it's a much rewarding experience, facebook gives that quick fix. Don't need to prep, compose, and edit with facebook. Facebook is the fast food chain for thoughts.

I do agree with you that there is a lot of wasted talent, and many lost thoughts that never materialize into a post. Thanks for bringing our attention to this. Looking forward to reading many posts from you and the rest of our little blogging group.

abufares said...

@Gabriela
I am using FB more than before but I must admit that I find it and presence there very silly.
I did close my account once and was on the verge of doing it again and for good but something came up at the last moment and made me change my mind.
If I look at FB as a virtual pub then I'm more likely to appreciate its utility. Accordingly, I'm mainly "tipsy" there. When I drink with friends I'm very reluctant to be serious and this is exactly my attitude on FB.
What you said about your sister's friends happened with me. My daughter's friends were requesting my "friendship" and I found it very awkward.
I'm glad you read me Gabriela, I'm honored in fact. If you change your mind and get on FB, please look me up, may be we can have a virtual drink together (until either you come to Tartous or I get my butt to Lima myself).

abufares said...

@Isobel
You're one of the reasons I enjoy my occasional visit to FB :-)
However, you are writing less on your blog although I wouldn't assume that FB is the culprit.
I don't know how aware of the Syrian Blogging Community you are but I can safely say that most of the "founding fathers" of the Syrian blogging movement (and they are wonderful young folks) have given up on their blogs. I am happy that I can still find them online, on FB of course but I am saddened that their voices are getting too low to hear. With all due respect to the newer Syrian bloggers (mostly in Arabic) the void left behind by those early ones remains huge and foreboding.
I am writing less on my blog because most of my friends have stopped. I know it's not a logical excuse but blogging is not meant to be a one-man-show.

abufares said...

@Omar
I greatly miss your blog. My previous comment to Isobel was partly about you and the other wonderful younger men and women I have come to consider as my friends. Fast food is OK as long as it is understood for what it actually is (unavoidable occasional convenience). Your analogy is perfect and accordingly you must realize how enjoyable a special dinner at a fine restaurant is or how healthy and fulfilling a home cooked meal can be.
I personally intend to get back to one post per week average for 2011. How about you set your own target and abide by it.
I'd love to see all of you back :-)

KJ said...

For me, at least, and I believe the case is similar with others, is that the main culprit is not Facebook but twitter. Facebook has never truly been an "alternative" blogging platform and has had a different direction of networking. Twitter, on the other hand, thrives on its 140 characters and the users have grown accustomed to that limit of an attention span. Instead of spending a significant amount of time writing a blog post rant that few would read, you would say it in 140 characters and receive immediate responses (hopefully).

I noticed myself that I the more I spend on twitter, the less blogs I read and the less pages of books I read... the attention span is shortened and the brain is filled with an overload of information, much of which is unnecessary.

My solution was to tweet less and reclaim my life back!

Neetu said...

Hi, reading ur blogs is like a habit now . I am also a facebook user though not an addict. well I m there cos all my friends are there and honestly i dont have anything else to do cos i m far from my family and my friends are most of the time busy. Though i prefer to see them face to face than on FB. Internet is my getaway from my boredom. But for sure like all other things also fb has its own positive and negative points. and as it is said in our country " excess of everything is bad" . (sorry if i out of track, but i wrote wht i felt) With best wishes....

abufares said...

@KJ
I think Twitter comes in 2nd after FB in terms of social networking prominence. I don't mind the inherited imagism needed to conjure an intelligent statement in 140 characters or less. As a matter of fact I find it quite challenging and rewarding, but like status updates on FB, Twitter messages are ephemeral and self destruct in a day or two.
A blog is a permanent record, it's as close to publishing our thoughts/dreams/art/hallucinations ...etc. as we could ever get. Of course it takes time to produce a fine post but remember that it takes a couple of years of daily writing to end up with a good novel.
Tweet as much as you want to KJ but keep on blogging :-)

abufares said...

@Neetu
I agree with you completely. I, too, am on FB to be in touch with distant ones.
What I noticed is that many veteran Internet users (here in Syria at least) are spending most of their online time on FB instead of surfing their favorites like they used to or even explore random sites. FB remains open in the background and sooner or later they enter into a vegetative state of simply waiting for someone to update their status or post a link or a photo. Again, this is not bad at all if kept rationed and under control. The Internet was regarded as "time wasting" by non-Internet users. Today, I see Facebooking as time wasting on the Internet!

Hiba said...

Oh, Facebook. I'm a user :P I joined about 4 years ago when I was in my first year of university. Recently, though, I decided to stop sharing so much of my personal life on it. I love taking pictures and it got to the point where I had so many albums. It felt as if all these friends and acquaintances on FB can see my life through my photos so I decided to delete my account and start a new one where I limited my sharing. I must say I do miss chatting with friends over photos I've taken or catching up with family from far away through this medium. However, I must admit that I became a bit more focused on my writing. And I've been using my blog for my amateur love for pictures so it's all good.

Anonymous said...

مرحبا ابو فراس كيفك ؟
كل سنه وانت سالم

بدي استفسر منك اذا بتعرف شي عن صاحب مدونه انا سوري ؟
لانو من مده ما كتب شي بعد وفاة والدتو !
فا اذا بتعرفشي بليز طمنا عليه وسلملنا عليه استفقدناه كتير

تحياتي
رواد

simon said...

I find reading a wonderful blog like yours so much more enjoyable than anything I've seen on any social networking page. It is such a pleasure to read talented writers like you spin a story or open their heart. FB and the other media are indeed a lot like a night at the pub. Keep posting my friend, share your gift of "words" with the world.

abufares said...

@Hiba
I've been to your blog before and I think it's so beautiful. The combination of pictures and minimalist posts is working in a wonderful way. I tried to comment on your latest entry but was unable to because blogger is stupidly blocked in Syria but I'll try again nevertheless. I'm adding you on my blogroll.

Ahhh, and my comment would've been:

"with her!"

abufares said...

إلى رواد
وأنت بألف خير
وأنا أيضاً مشتاق لكتابة أنا سوري وبالي مشغول عليه. للأسف لا أعرف عنوان بريده الإلكتروني وأتمنى من كل قلبي إن قرأ كلماتنا هنا أو هنالك في مدونته أن يعلمنا بأنه بخير

abufares said...

@Simon
Thank you so much for your words of encouragement. I really appreciate being read by you and the fact that you left this comment.
You're welcome here, anytime, of course!

Mariyah said...

Abufares, what an observant post and written beautifully as well. Although I hardly spend a minute on Facebook, I'm spending less and less time on my blog as well. I enjoy reading others but I haven't been commenting as I used to either. I couldn't tell you why really. I'm struggling to finish my last story - probably because I'm finding it a bit...lonely.

I'm glad Facebook hasn't taken you away from us. Your blog has a very special place in my heart. Keep writing - don't every stop.

abufares said...

@Mariyah
Lonely... are you?
Well, Spring is in the air ;-)

cubano said...

I used to blog a lot but now find that Facebook totally consumes my free time however this post of yours has inspired me to update my blog and write more instead of spending all my time on FB :)

abufares said...

@Cubano
I'm so glad you found some motivation in my post to write again. I need to do that myself :-)
Thank you for your comment.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I'm late answering this, so you will probably never read this...

As I do not write a blog, I can not answer for their lack of posts lately, but I will answer why I use Facebook. In short, I keep my account mostly to keep in touch with my daughters. Having them far away from home, made me join Facebook, particularly to know that my youngest daughter is alive and kicking! The time difference between our cities is such, that phone calls are always difficult within our schedules. So Facebook provides a platform to post updates on our day to day.

If in between that I get a glimpse of friends and also make new friends, well thats wonderful! I also use it try to advertise my art work. I'm still not very succesful at this. So, there it is. That is why I use Facebook.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I'm late answering this, so you will probably never read this...

As I do not write a blog, I can not answer for their lack of posts lately, but I will answer why I use Facebook. In short, I keep my account mostly to keep in touch with my daughters. Having them far away from home, made me join Facebook, particularly to know that my youngest daughter is alive and kicking! The time difference between our cities is such, that phone calls are always difficult within our schedules. So Facebook provides a platform to post updates on our day to day.

If in between that I get a glimpse of friends and also make new friends, well thats wonderful! I also use it try to advertise my art work. I'm still not very succesful at this. So, there it is. That is why I use Facebook.
w.b. yeats

Sonja said...

I don't see blogs and fb as competing for the same time. If I am in the mood for something with more flesh on it I will likely hit the blog circuit - fb is lighter - fluffier stuff. For me - a way to share photos and the lighter side of life. I find blogs often take themselves too seriously, or the singular focus can become tedious and thus just like any good conversation - finds its own end. I do not write less because of fb ... i simply write less because I am on stage acting, spending real time with real people ... fb will take up a dozen minutes a day ... if you add all the minutes up. A blog is more demanding - a larger dedication.

When something in a busy life has to give ... the blog was it. Unfortunately.

Also - not every blog has the interaction found here. A reason to stop - for if people are voyeuristic - that is well but what some of us crave is interaction - ironic as it seems that is what most find on fb. Even if it is the fast food variety.

Excellent post ... as usual.

abufares said...

@Sonja
You know that I've been contemplating getting another laptop and never connect it online. Well I could of course recommission my old typewriter (if I could find it) and use it for writing again.
There's too much distraction, for me at least. FB slowly infringed on my time and became a daily feature of my online life. A few days ago I decided that enough is enough. I will use it only as an advertising platform for my own writing. I'm not even checking it anymore.
Being on FB is like sitting in a Starbucks. I don't mind doing it when I'm on the move or out of town but the cheap franchise atmosphere will get to me sooner or later. Blogs are small favorite, discreet and intimate bars/cafes and that's where I'd rather spend my time from now on.
So nice to see you here and I wish you get back to that wonderful blog of yours.