At the beginning, social community websites were different from what we see now. They were made up of profiles, but there were also groups with discussion forums. That was the essence of socializing: groups of people with common interests, discussing or sharing their ideas on forums. There was a quantitative rank (the number of posts) but there was also a qualitative, emotional connection (what were you talking about?, who were you by the way?…). I hosted such a group for more than 10 years and this enriched me immensely; I learned to write in English, I learned to moderate a forum, to keep the balance between opinions, to seek sometimes the compromise and sometimes to allow others to state their opinions without the fear of being excluded. I made friendships that last up to this very moment, with persons from around the globe and of different ages.
Then Facebook came. The idea behind the website is essentially good; connect the world. But something pushed to the extremes always creates the opposite effect. Too much connectivity ends up by creating superficial contacts. Excessive emphasis on our egos generated this malign concern about our popularity, about how many “likes” we get. Reputation is great for a business or product, but for a person?
Now I rarely use the private messaging system of Facebook. The few remaining friends I still keep in touch with prefer to e-mail me or phone me. I sometimes get some “likes” telling me that there are some friends out there who actually read what I share. But there is no exchange of information or emotion; only a stroke, a poke…
Every 6 months I do a cleanup of my friends’ list. I keep only old friends or truly inspiring people. But there are always some friends who jump back to re-request friendship, believing there is a technical problem (which sometimes occurs, but not too often). Yet, no message from their part, just a silent request for a friendship that has lost its meaning. This is also the reason why I have more connections on LinkedIn (which is professional) compared to Facebook (which is personal).
We’re fast approaching the moment when our presence on the internet will be a constant monologue. This is the trend. That’s why I write on a blog and not on social media; it’s my way of resisting to a change of which I don’t see the value. That’s why I’ve chosen the current name of this site: a meeting space, a space that can be shared with others. And that’s why there is a distinct chapter in the menu of this blog called “guest writing”. It’s the opportunity I offer to my friends to leave a piece of their soul on my website, because I believe that this is the mechanism of socialization: leaving a part of you in the other one and receiving a part of them in yourself.
Some of you have noticed perhaps that there is a little Facebook box on the side of my WordPress blog for some days now. It exists because I created a Facebook page for this blog, separate from my profile. There people can “like” my work and the stuff I share, and I’m grateful to those who do it. It is part of my vision to bring more authenticity in my online relationships.