fear of declaring

Two weeks ago, two women invited me to join goodreads via Facebook.

I have not yet joined.

Goodreads wants to access all of my information. They want my friends, my first born (NO! Dear daughter, fear not!), my opinions.

It’s too much!

I like reading. I love buying books, even. I’d probably get a lot out of it.

Or maybe not.

Why do I need to tell people what I’m reading?

(I know some of you are thinking why do I need to share here what my thoughts are about why indeed.

So more about that later.)

I am reaching my threshold of things to share.

I don’t want to lose my anonymity on some things.

The NYTimes published a piece on June 8th that’s gone all around the webuniverse by Jonathan Safran Foer about How How Not to Be Alone. Here’s just a snippet:

THE problem with accepting — with preferring — diminished substitutes is that over time, we, too, become diminished substitutes. People who become used to saying little become used to feeling little.

Most of the time, most people are not crying in public, but everyone is always in need of something that another person can give, be it undivided attention, a kind word or deep empathy. There is no better use of a life than to be attentive to such needs. There are as many ways to do this as there are kinds of loneliness, but all of them require attentiveness, all of them require the hard work of emotional computation and corporeal compassion. All of them require the human processing of the only animal who risks “getting it wrong” and whose dreams provide shelters and vaccines and words to crying strangers.

I will mention, in passing, Gershon Gorenberg’s response, also going around, in the Daily Beast about Shabbos being the perfect place to start unplugging.

Even Fast Company, which is all about being connected,  has been featuring manifestos on how to unplug from the onslaught of technology.

But then there’s this. We are in a new reality. We need to make friends with it. Or build walls. Or make whatever kind of relationship where we’re in charge. (Daily Beast indeed!)

And then, in the same ezine that publishes about how to step away from the Beast, there’s an article about Facebook’s Secret to Building Friendships, about ” how the social network leverages social design to spur friendships”.

As a primer, though, Adams has developed a three-pronged understanding of how people work.

  1. Identity “We’re all unique. That’s the most important part of how we see the world, what we say or don’t say, and we all have this desire to be unique. That’s identity. That drives a lot of things, what we share or say.”
  2. Connectedness “All the people we’re connected to–that’s another huge component, and it’s a bit of a paradox. People want to feel unique, but they want to feel part of something.”
  3. How we talk “How do we build our relationships? How do we tell the story of our life that tells our identity? The way I’ve been talking about that is, if you look at how people interact in the real world, it’s all lightweight interactions. You say something. I say something back. It’s not a monologue, and a lot is not just speech but light gestures and body language. All those tiny, tiny things. And what’s interesting is that the aggregation of those things tells an amazing story. It takes weeks, months, and sometimes years to form these deep relationships with people.”

In other words, to create meaningful relationships online, you have to model them after meaningful relationships offline. And those are often built by just being around someone a whole lot.


So what does that mean?

It means that we have added ways to be close to people.

It does not mean that we can or will and certainly not should replace the old realities.


Laughing with someone until you both start crying and when you see that you both are, you burst out crying again.

But isn’t it true that we can improve our lives by sharing ideas and stories and imagination in different ways with great benefit to all?

And that is what I gain from this. I share my ideas with the world and they share back their humanity.

Sometimes with more feeling than other times, no doubt. But it has been an enriching experience.

I’ll still keep checking in with Facebook, too, to see what my cousin is doing in New Zealand and what the new babies are doing. Maybe it should be considered our new form of sending postcards, sometimes with photos and sometimes “wish you were here”.

But wait–apparently you can sign up for goodreads without going through Facebook!

The things you learn can astonish!


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