Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Friend Fights Facebook

You can take me down
To show me your home
Not the place where you live
But the place where you belong
You can bend my ear
We can talk all day
Just make sure you're around
When I've finally got something to say

Toad the Wet Sprocket

I will refer to my friend as a variable: He is person (X). Nevermind, he is Chris. Though communication has failed us through the years their are great memories so that when we cross paths it is a gift to continue the friendship. He is eccentric, different than I, so though we share certain truths (small T) his foundation is appealing in its difference. We happened upon each other the night of the election and engaged in a virtual dialogue surrounding the historic event and the possible consequences for man and country. Subsequently Chris began to comment with a certain degree of unexpected frequency as to the word salad ramblings from my fingers. Personhood was a topic that was just getting good when Chris dropped off Facebook. His reason...the egoism and self-serving nature of the medium was just too much and he could not philosophically reconcile his participation on the application.

I was not taken aback by his comments as there was some virtual discussion in the not so distant past in which he raised the question of why people might care about others to the extent that so much his shared on the internet. Valid question. I have, for the most part, been a proponent of community and the joy the other takes in what you disclose to them. Although I would not agree in majority to a Hegelian view of man in society, I do agree to an extent that the self is further defined by society and hence our need for community. But mediums like Facebook raise the ante a bit and Chris forced my hand.

For example, why do folks use their "status" as a means to express opinion? I have done it so I can answer for myself: I do it to get my point across on a grand scale as it forces anyone who can see to become a part of my thinking. If I put it in a note or on my wall it might never get read. Chris is therefore right...egoism...selfishness. Why do I believe that anyone cares? My reaction is to turn the question back on him: why do I care if anyone cares? If my purpose is to share a part of me I am opening myself up in the hope of a response and hence dialogue. In turn my efforts at community are satisfied in that a specific relationship is better defined. I simply don't see it as a negative. At times it is an annoyance and surely there are those who have seen my "status" and wished I would, in a virtual sense, shut up.

Chris's sentiment did ?inspire? me to blank out my status though I haven't remained true to that agenda. To a greater extent it forced me to reconcile my cynicism with my hope once again, a contradiction and hypocrisy I accepted many years ago. Rather than be disgusted by the "look at me" perspective I could take with respect to Facebook I side with the perspective that there is a level of sincerity in my "friends". Rather than their sharing be a need for them to be affirmed or seen, I will accept that they are merely wanting to be known for the sake of community and the happiness found in friendship.

Surely there is a level of Truth (big T) in both positions that Chris and I take. However, Chris has (and for the last time he claims) deleted his Facebook account requiring that I now utilize email or phone as how we communicate. I'll miss the pictures and other updates to his life. I respect and understand why he had to do what he did. I hope he changes his mind...again.

Egoism is the very essence of a noble soul.
Friedrich Nietzsche

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