As anyone who has known me any length of time can tell you, I have struggled for years with how to do Facebook. I love Facebook. I also hate Facebook.
I love being invited into people’s lives, to see the pictures of their families, to know what they are passionate about, to hear about their dreams, fears and even frustrations. Allowing me to see into your life is a holy and beautiful thing.
But it is also overwhelming. Because of how Facebook works, it becomes a firehose of information, with there always being something new to see, something new to be angry about, something new to like or dislike. I am pretty certain the human animal is incapable of paying attention to thousands of people. I am absolutely certain that I am.
For ten years, I have used Facebook as an address book of sorts. If we ever met and had a good conversation, I added you. If you moved down the street from me, I added you. If you asked me to add you, I added you. If I just wanted to get to know you, I added you. If we went to school in the 8th grade and I haven’t seen you since, I added you.
The result is that I have several thousand people who now have a piece of my attention, most of whom I do not really know, and who do not know me, but whose life streams across my screen 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
I have long rationalized that because of work – I am responsible for raising money to pay salaries for myself and other people – it behooves me to “know” lots of people. And it does. But it’s just not sustainable. That level of attention kills my creativity.
And about that creativity – all of that attention I am paying creates a cognitive load that is, frankly, exhausting. I am not doing my best writing, my best thinking, if I am consuming all of the time. And that is what I am doing – just consuming everyone else’s lives rather than creating mine.
This way is fraught with peril. Back in the winter I took a Facebook hiatus for a few months. It was incredibly peaceful – but I also felt isolated, realizing just how much I depend on Facebook for connection with people I genuinely care about.
So here is what I am doing: I have created a new personal Facebook account. I am adding my family and some trusted friends… and then I will deactivate my old one. I am sending a spate of friend requests to some folks – if one of them isn’t you, I hope you won’t take that personally. I am just trying to make my intimate world smaller, so I can share my non-intimate world with more people.
That’s right: My radical plan is to only be Facebook friend with my actual friends. Some people are upset at me for this – which is a whole ‘nother blog post, about the way people feel entitled to the consumption of other people’s experiences.
But there are lots of options for those people who want to see how I move in the world. On Facebook there is the Rev. Hugh L. Hollowell page and Love Wins Ministries page, and I personally am on Instagram and Twitter. Those accounts are wide open, and where I will be doing the majority of my public sharing from now on. I hope to be doing more writing here – you can get an email when I update this blog by going here.
And, as a reminder, I send an email newsletter out every Monday morning that tells a little bit about what I am up to, and has links to five beautiful things. You should subscribe.
Is this the magic bullet? I don’t know. But I hope so.