Sunday, April 25, 2010

I'm back, baby!

I've been away from the blog for quite some time.  While many things remain the same (like the fact that I still hate Facebook and still miss many of my departed expat buddies), there's lots of change shakin' in our household these days.

So while I haven't written in a while, I have been thinking about what I would write when I finally did return. And the fact I was still thinking about it told me it was time to just do it.

While on my self-imposed sabbatical, I did find myself reading quite a few blogs by other expats.  Some of them are funny and help me feel more connected to others by knowing I am not flailing in isolation, but others made me want to spit at my monitor and bemoan the fecklessness, foolishness, and lack of appropriate punctuation. It got me thinking about why we write blogs in the first place.  I always said I would never do it as I find it completely self-indulgent and, frankly, a little narcissistic to think anyone would care enough about what I have to say. 

This thought translates to all forms of social media, actually.  Early on in my blogging career (which, mind, spans less than a year), I described my efforts to be more connected by means of technology. Almost a year on, I realize I don't want to be *that* connected. In replacing real social connection with technological interaction, relationships become strained and false. Now don't get me wrong - I keep a Facebook account and a Skype log-on as I rely on those methods to keep me connected to people with whom I want to be connected - people with whom I would write letters and talk on the phone given no other speedier, full-color option.

But excessive technological connection actually degrades the quality of our real relationships by leading us to believe that we are truly connected to people because we 'friend' them. However, with no real follow up or investment, these friendships feel false and empty as we think, on the surface, that we have a great social network. But when it comes down to brass tacks*, how many of these people really play an active role in our lives? 

We all only have so much energy, so I have made the decision to focus my little bucket 'o glee on fostering those relationships that represent more than a voyeuristic 'through the keyhole' glimpse at someone else's life by way of an online profile and instead try harder to connect with those people that mean a lot to me by growing our friendship.  And I might even use a little technology to do it.

A lot has been written recently about the mental effects of having too much access into another person's life with whom you do not have a close friendship. Knowing that the long-distance friend who does not seem to have time to respond to your latest email but has the time to post 15 status updates in an hour can be unnerving.  Or what about the friend who was really more for a casual acquaintance but now feels the need to comment on every post you make? Or the person who spies photos of a party on your wall and realizes they weren't invited and kicks up a fuss? Even Kahlil Gibran, author of the ubiquitous wedding reading, "The Prophet", advised us to "let there be spaces in your togetherness". Now if only there were an option for that in your Facebook privacy settings.

So that all being said, I've always thought myself to be a little self-indulgent and narcissistic anyway (hey, man, we all are), so I'll keep blogging away, just perhaps a little less often and a lot less about my personal life.  Watch this space...
* Ever wonder where that phrase comes from?  Wonder no more. I'm not sure I really care, but when I looked it up and saw there was reference not only to my motherland of Texas, but also to the hometown of a bestie, I thought it worth mentioning.  Spread the word.


  1. Welcome back! I'm glad you haven't disappeared.

  2. I've just discovered your blog (as we're considering a move to Norway, a year from now, when I finish my PhD in Scotland). I hear you, on the way connections seem to drop; when you provide too much of a view into your life, it seems that people simply sit back and watch, while not realizing that you're attempting to have them engage and connect. It's frustrating.

    Hope you did get rid of the FaceHook. We have, and find that it's quite wonderful, not to be hooked into all that insanity.