Regular Life

Regular Life

In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on. – Robert Frost

Sporadically Yours

By the time this hits the web, my son will have been fasting in preparation for closed reduction surgery on his right arm. That’s when the parts of a broken bone haven’t lined up properly during the first couple weeks of healing, and surgery is required to avoid subjecting a 7-year-old to a 6-9 month healing period. Okay, so that might not be the generic definition, but it’s the one that applies in this case.

Almost everybody reading this is a friend on Facebook and already knows the above, and that brings me to the main thrust of this post.

Posting out here will become more sporadic, as the social aspect of this blog has dwindled to almost nothing. Also, work trips that once provided content have been reduced due to a shift to remote installs. I’ll still post when a thought or a photo hits me just right. Closing it down completely just doesn’t seem right, after all the work that’s gone into it.

I started blogging after first moving to a new state, and discovered other bloggers through the comment area of an online serial novel by the inimitable Cheeseburger Brown. A few of us became online friends and kept our respective comment areas busy. Thanks to RSS feeds, we knew when someone had posted without having to go back to the site every day. Sometimes a post would get 20-plus comments, often from only three or four of us going back and forth, and stat counters showed many more were reading but not commenting.

We weren’t setting any records for unique hits, but we were having fun. In fact, eventually it led to three of us meeting up in person and hitting it off well. We have met annually ever since, once with spouses in tow, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen this year.

Well before those last two annual meetings, the blog posts became increasingly sporadic, and we communicated primarily via e-mail. I had run out of funny stories from my past, and my staying up late to write fiction had to stop. Combine that with Facebook’s meteoric rise in popularity, and where some of us would have developed a thought into a full blog post in the past, we settled for a mere status update on Facebook.

Despite what some of them tell you, most writers love nothing more than a large number of readers, and my blogging friends and I are writers on at least some level, if not attention whores (there’s a difference?). I suspect that the veritable ghost town left by the desertion of the blog readers also left some of us craving the attention we once enjoyed. The large number of people on Facebook satiated that thirst.

However, I still feel that there’s something missing from the days of reading a few pithy entries written by a few people, rather than hundreds of throwaway missives written by 300 to 500 of my closest friends. A certain intimacy has been lost, and because I can check Facebook only at home or from another wi-fi connection, the folks I might care to keep up with get buried under the inane status updates posted all day while I’m at work.

To combat this, I created a Facebook group called True Friends. I culled about 100 friends from my full 300-plus list and put them in that group, and then set everything on my profile visible only to True Friends by default. I also set my Newsfeed to show items only from that group. Although it has helped a little, I’m finding that 100 still is too many.

I have used the Notes feature a few times to cross-post thoughts from the blog, but I suspect most Facebook users see anything more than a few sentences as too long. In fact, I’m surprised you’re still reading this.

In some ways, logging onto Facebook is like showing up to a huge party and flitting about from person to person, giving a shoulders-in, butt-out hug to each before saying a few words and moving along. I’ve always preferred small gatherings with a few friends, and I get the opposite experience on Facebook. I think that’s why I see the decline of our blogging community as a loss.

4 Responses to Sporadically Yours

  1. I think we all go through this Mark… a bit of malaise if you will.
    Hopefully, you’ll get past it and on to more posts and even more stories as you have in the past.
    (also hoping I make the cut for “true friends”)

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  2. As do I.

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  3. Thanks for sharing, Mark. I understand how you feel. I am more of a large party than a small gathering type person, so FB fills that need, but I’ve got smaller, more intimate groups of people in my life (our church small group that meets once a week, my local Jeep club that gets together monthly and rides trails or BBQ’s and “talks” on a bulletin board system during the month…) that anchor me and provide real attachment. I appreciate your blog and your writing and I applaud you for culling the herd when it comes to larger social media not meeting your needs. Kudos to you.

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  4. I think FB is, or has become, a commentary symbolic of Life itself. It’s nowhere near satisfying or gratifying the way blogging is/was… but serves a purpose in a time-starved busy world. I don’t like it much but would rather not be without it.

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