being in facebook

i posted a while back about my fluctuating desire to leave facebook because of my insecurities, the timesuck, the mostly surface-level discourses happening there (which has never been a secret or anything because i mean the name pretty much announces the name of the game). and whatnot.

more recently, i am wondering about the extent to which dialogue can happen in fb. it's probably just not cut out for it. mix that possibility (fact) with the fact that many/most of my friends there are colleagues with whom i work and i've got a pretty complicated venue (not a simple partytime) ripe for/with complicated exchanges and misunderstandings.

i am thinking about film, but i could contextualize my concern within the context of any "matter of taste." i see myself and others using fb to identify certain tastes (via a positive response to a particular drink, a negative film review, a powerful reaction to a political move ...), but within any one thread, it seems often to be mostly about agreeing with the original post. this is fine, another way of a.) asserting a taste, b.) identifying with the original poster, c.) affirming the original poster's tastes, d.) sustaining a mood, and e.) all around group belonging identification.

but so when i recently responded to a thread on a particular film with my positive review (against the near-unilaterally negative ones), i expected and even hoped to invite other perspectives to the chat or maybe to encourage someone/anyone to reconsider the film, to recall something about it that had perhaps worked for them, to maybe even reconsider their brittle, sound-bitten reviews. so when more negative reviews poured in and it became clear that my contribution would not be taken up in any of the ways i'd hoped, i took my thoughts down. weak. i know (i have never proposed that i am strong, Helen Reddy, notwithstanding). but it's also an indication of how powerfully fb affects me and not always in productive ways. and but then is it fb? or do i simply not have what it takes to engage in a conversation where i am completely in the minority? (and if so, what am i doing in rhetoric?!). whatever the case, this has me wondering again about fb and the powerfully lingering effects it generates, despite the brevity (or, perhaps certainly because of the brevity) of the assertions that express themselves there.

and it's all just fine. but i am once again pricked and insecure following what should be a simple fb thread. but so maybe i need to learn ... again ... to be quiet, vewy qwiet. and that's probably for the best (she says, from out in patriarchal, group-identity-generating Utah). or f*ck it. maybe not. maybe fb is not "surface" at all but a useful tool for reflecting precisely upon our own trends in rhetorical action and group participation (and if so, i wish i'd had it in first grade).

Comments

Anonymous said…
well, I had to come over and see what you were going to say, of course.

I think that the way conversations get configured on FB has something to do with the semi-private nature of people's wall space--where if others take over the discussion, it kind of feels like you have a group of people arguing on your lawn (complicated by the fact that it also perhaps draws attention to your wall in ways that you may not want certain of your FB "friends"--like your mom or your boss--to see).

For example, I can think of a recent status update by a high school teacher protesting the negative reaction to Obama's speech about schools a few weeks ago that generated an explosion of responses (mostly arguing with her and with other supportive responses to the post). After about twenty posts where two people in particular (not her) were arguing with each other, my friend was like "jeez guys, shut up already," and I sympathized with her.

So, point being, FB is not really a good place for in-depth conversations, probably because one's page is connected to so many other people. When I post any sort of update, I'm mostly hoping for fairly shallow and plentiful reactions, so that I can get a laugh and a small dose of social interaction. Whereas blogs, obviously, do allow for longer and more thoughtful responses. Even though blogs are also semi-private spaces, they're not the same kind of "push" medium as Facebook (i.e., even though I assume some people will read this comment, it won't be as up-in-peoples'-faces as if I were to leave a similar comment on FB).

OK, that's my thesis for the day. whee!

jodie