As you may have noticed, I am on Facebook a LOT, and yes, it is driving me crazy and no, not in a wacky or hilarious way.
It’s changing my brain. I’m starting to think of everything I do and see and even think as a Facebook status that everyone can see, that everyone will react to. I break a yolk on an egg I’m cooking, and I catch myself wondering who’s going to relate to it, who’s going to click “like.”
I can’t remember what it was like to not be a part of this hive. When I couldn’t just think of an acquaintance and then zoom a greeting or a message or a question to them, with not much more effort than thought.
And I try, too. I try to think back to when it was possible to feel alone. You know, that feeling at night where you stand there in your back yard or on your porch or walk along a road by yourself, and you’re the only one experience what you’re experiencing. Everything feels a little stark and supernatural and exciting, the wind on your skin, the Moon, the night noises.
Once, it was religion and storytelling that connected us. We’d sit around fires and tell them and pass them on, and that would be the strongest evidence we’d get that other people were just like us, that we all shared experiences, and that was the appeal of both of those things. Not feeling alone.
When I was a kid it was movies and television and music, that’s my generation. We only had a few channels, so we all watched the same shows, listened to the same songs. In fact, finding a show or a song that was not so widely known, and then finding someone else who heard it or saw it and enjoyed it, too – that was a pretty good feeling. And then we’d communicate using references to these things – a delightful feeling, when someone catches your reference without having it explained. Thanks, Simpsons.
I remember a Roger Waters album called Radio K.A.O.S., and don’t worry, I’m not here to gush about Roger Waters and I’m not going to try to convince you it’s a great album or anything. I’m practically tone deaf, so it truly doesn’t matter what I think about albums. But if you ever get a chance to listen to it, you’ll get a pretty interesting picture of what it was like to really see the world as it was giving birth to the Internet.
It was all about feeling connected to everything via radio waves, and still feeling isolated and alone. Awfully pretentious, I’m sure most people would think. But now I’m fascinated by it, by this idea that the clunky old radio could make a man feel overwhelmed by connection, that loneliness is not only possible without solitude, it can thrive that way – that’s a catch phrase that ought to be on Facebook’s home page.
Driving from Toledo to Columbus the other night, I sort of flashed back to the way driving used to be, when you had to use a road map. And you had to keep change with you and search for a pay phone, if you got lost.
Do you know how hard it is to find a pay phone today? Pretty hard, because only drug dealers need them. A weird feeling, driving down a country road at night, and being unable to find a sense of isolation, anywhere within the experience.
It’s difficult to find a place where you aren’t connected, these days and if you hang around on Facebook long enough, it becomes difficult to imagine anything else. Most people take a break from Facebook at that point, but that hasn’t been an option for me, not for approximately 361 days.
And I’m ready, Facebook. I am absolutely exhausted, not just from constant writing, but from constant social and emotional exposure, from constant connection.
Because last year, I just tossed up a window right into my life, and everybody got to look into it whenever they wanted, and not every day is pretty. Sometimes I’m funny, sometimes I’m unreasonable, sometimes I’m a petulant prick – if the window is open every day, then you get to see me at my best and at my worst and also in normal, mediocre mode. Not always such a great idea, in retrospect.
I think I’ve lost a few friends this year, but I’ve gained or reclaimed at least a hundred, and it’s all been worth it, no doubt about it. Not just the writing, but the tour of this modern digital world, the reconnection with all the people from my past that I thought I’d never seen again, and the new people, whom I never would have met offline.
Marathons are worth it, too, but I’ll bet you’re pretty tired of putting one foot in front of the other by the end of them. I’ll bet you’re ready to sit down and not run, just sit and breathe and fart and eat. And so after Friday, when I put up my 365th post and break Curse of Future Tom once and for all, please do not be surprised or offended when I log off of Facebook and stay that way for a solid two weeks.
A lot of people have told me that it’s hard to imagine a day where they can’t log on and scoop up one of my posts – that’s success right there, by the way, if you ask me. But look at it from my perspective – I can’t imagine such a day, either.
That’s going to be possibly more of a shock than writing every day was – NOT writing, NOT connecting, NOT bantering, just Tom Turtle, retracting his head into his shell at last for a bit of old-fashioned, real world, introverted recharging. My microphone will hit the stage floor and Blogosphere, I’ll be OUT.
But like Frosty the Snowman, I’ll be back again one day. While I’m gone, why don’ t you guys hang around here and sell a bunch of books, maybe straighten the place up? Or, you could work on elaborate, blog-related song-and-dance numbers and then when I walk back in, you could surprise me with them. There is also fried chicken and cupcakes – if you’re looking for something to do just make one or both of those things and drive them on over. It’ll be just like a blog post except you’ll be living it.