Tuesday, February 27, 2018

If a blog post falls in the forest

Saturated.

That's the word that comes to mind: saturated.

There is just so much - so much to do, so much to consider, so much to discuss, so much to fight for, so much to fight against, so much to worry about, so much to plan, so much to act on, so damned much. I'm saturated. The sponge is filled to capacity. I've started to leak.

Blogging used to save me when I felt saturated. It let me slow down and let some of what was in my mind seep on to the page, where I could shape it, reframe it, and share it. Then my friends picked it up, flipped it over, and helped me see it from a different angle. And in the process, I found that some space had cleared. Some portions of the sponge had been gently and carefully wrung, and I found myself able to do, consider, discuss, and all the rest, much more effectively.

But blogging has changed as social media has become more pervasive. In the old days, we made the rounds of our favorite blogs, stopping in on our friends' virtual front porches and leaving a supportive comment or a much needed laugh. These days, we flash a thumbs up as we fly by each other on Facebook. We read thumbnails instead of pieces, and we use the extra time to wage battle with the Russian bots. My friends only know if I've posted on the blog if Facebook tells them that I have. And, increasingly, Facebook will only tell them that I have if I'm willing to shoot them some money for the effort.

Even when people do find me through Facebook, the comment section - the slow and easy conversation we used to have here on the blog itself - has all but disappeared. The comments appear on Facebook, or, more often, somebody shares a post on their own page, and the comments unfold there, where I can't see them, can't engage with them, can't learn from them. And so, the Facebook numbers game - the shares, the likes, the "seen by" totals - they become the end game, and they add to the saturation. Instead of easing the frenzy, they feed it.

The lightning pace with which things are now shared and argued and refuted and celebrated and re-posted - it's exhausting. It has made me so fearful of shining the spotlight in the wrong place - of sharing too much of Bud's life, or of sharing the wrong things, in a way that they will take on a life of their own and the damage will be done before I've had a chance to reign it in, unpublish, and reconsider. The ubiquitous nature of social media has taken the joy out of blogging for me, and has replaced it with a passel of anxiety.

But I'm saturated. I need to get it out - to slow down and shape and think and reframe and share. So I'm going to do it, and I'm not going to tell anybody on Facebook about it. I'm just going to set up here on my porch with some iced coffee and freshly baked cookies, and if you happen to wander by, I hope you'll stop in.

Perhaps I'll find that without the boost of social media, I'm alone here in the forest - a tree that falls without anyone there to hear it. And then, I'll have some different decisions to make.

But right now, I'm feeling just a little less saturated than I was when I began writing this post, and that, at least, is a start.