Embracing change and not clinging to anachronisms
April 18, 2012 8:34PM
Updated: May 20, 2012 8:27AM
I felt like Bilbo Baggins. OK, so I didn’t outwit Gollum, burgle treasure from Smaug or hang out with Gandalf.
But I did go “There and Back Again”— by re-establishing a Facebook account less than two months after systematically deleting it. I grappled with the decision—especially because the idealism of my Feb. 8 column had been so strong. And so public.
Epic fail? Not by my standards. I, too, had a noble quest. Armed with the “Shield of Nostalgia,” I had charged into battle against the Tyrannical Regime of Social Networking! But I realized it’s not a war worth fighting, nor one that I believe in any longer.
My original thesis was backward: In 2012, social media does define us. Whether you use it or not is a statement about your identity.
Because in this fragmented media culture of the 24-7 news cycle, there’s no common denominator. In the 1980s, everyone watched Johnny Carson.
Today, the only thing comparable is the Internet and social media. Indeed, relentless digital connection is the new cultural imperative — and that was true long before Mark Zuckerberg invented Facebook.
What unites us is the struggle to come to terms with what that means for us, and how to preserve the sacred aspects of our lives. How do we define and enforce boundaries for dividing our time between digital and offline activity? That’s what I wanted to learn by deleting my account.
So I started asking co-workers and random people what they thought about the relevancy of social networking, and the role Facebook played in their lives. How often did they log-on? Do they like it anymore? Do they use it at all? And people put down their smart phones and talked to me. Making eye contact, every person I asked was eager to discuss their theories with me, and through discussing our online lives, we connected.
I could have waited longer to return — six months, a year. But it would have been wasted time, merely a testament to my own pride.
Yes, I can function without a social network. But like everyone else, I have a lot to do, and a lot of people in my life. It’s just too hard.
When phone calls, texting and email were my sole options for communication, I began to contact less people, less often. We can only prioritize a limited number of people.
I’ve been back on Facebook now about a month. I am rebuilding from scratch, which is refreshing and humbling simultaneously. My friends list currently hovers at a lean 96, rather than the original 439. I decided to build this friends list mindfully, and at my own pace. Adding and deleting is the natural cycle of social media life — and I’ve come to terms with it.
The wrong decision carries lasting social repercussions off-line, because our online interactions do not exist in a vacuum. Even draconian privacy settings do not safeguard your reputation or the content we choose to share in a public forum.
I’ve decided to embrace change and not cling to anachronisms.
But, you won’t find me on Pinterest! Yet.
Contact Amee Bohrer at