Listen to Pilot Light

Monday, July 18, 2016

Facebook and Noise

(Warning. A mild rant follows. Not suitable for people who don't like re-evaluating things)

I get lots of inquiries from people asking me to follow them on Facebook. Inevitably, if I respond at all it's to say that I don't do Facebook. I tried it once and found the noise level horrific and overwhelming. Little on "my" page had anything to do with me.

And most things didn't actually seem to be ON Facebook anyway but, as with twitter, links to thing somewhere else. Facebook was just the medium for sending me where the person wanted me in the first place. All the political rants that seem to assume I agree with them anyway were nauseating (often worst when I did agree with them). Pictures of people I don't know eating food were not entertaining. (Pictures of food? Give me a break.)

The thing is, life's too short for that nonsense. It was nice to be able to communicate with people, when it worked, but I couldn't be sure people saw my messages unless they specifically answered, and for that, I have email which is nicer, more "me friendly" as it were. Most important, other than going through myriad servers, it is just a communication between myself and another person, one not categorized as a "Facebook Friend"--a strange marketing label if ever there were one.

Very quickly my enthusiasm for checking my Facebook page waned, and shortly after, I deleted it. That was about eight or nine years ago. I don't honestly think I've missed out on anything important in doing that (but how would I know, right?) but I do know it gives me more time, and time is a precious commodity.

Every day it seems that my "friends" on other sites invite me to join them on "the new Facebook"--something I believe the world needs about as much as it needs another Enron. I don't reply. I don't join. It isn't that I am not interested in what other people are doing, but I figure if you want me to know, there are a lot of ways to send me a message about it, and the point of all going to some site every day is rather lost on me. I'd prefer to hear from you in a unique way. I have one or two friends who call me on the phone. What a concept!

I do participate in a few online things that I consider marginal, but only because they are nearly automatic (take zero time from me) and I view them as relatively harmless. Increasingly this chaotic world makes me seek out the relatively harmless (in the wrong hands, nothing is entirely harmless).

If you love Facebook, if it works for you and what you need, I'm glad. It must work for a lot of people or they wouldn't bother (I hope they wouldn't). But I won't be there, and it isn't because I'm not your friend, or don't like you, but because I don't see it as a substitute for whatever it aims to substitute for. The truth is that there is not a global online community. There are online interactions, but not a community. And sticking "global" and "community" together as a single term... well, think about it for a while. If it still makes sense to you, then fine.

Recovery TIme

It's been a long time since I updated this blog. Most of June was spent traveling 4100 miles in our van, Mobi. We left Silver City and camped in Navaholand, then went through Monument Valley north, caught hwy 95 to Capital Reef in Utah. Spectacular colors and rock formations. I'm not sure why people make such a deal of Monument Valley, because once you turn onto 95 the views are amazing.

We camped there one night and then drove a short distance to Calf Creek Campground where we stayed two nights. Beautiful. And hot. It was well over one hundred degrees, and roasting in the screen tent during the day. We took folding chairs and sat in the creek most of the day.

Then we went toward Bryce Canyon, turning north and heading west on I-50--billed as the loneliest highway. Now there is a road that lives up to its billing. We camped in a KOA, for lack of a better alternative. 

We made it to California the next day, camping in a free campground about 100 miles outside of Shasta in a lovely treed area along a river. The next day we made it to Hilt, California, our first destination. That's where Dagny's son, Lorenzo, lives and we got see the amazing young ladies his two daughters are becoming.

This trip was all about visiting kids, grandkids, and my mother, who just turned 95. That meant a few days in Hilt, then heading to Seattle. We did arrange to camp south of Portland for one night, getting together with my old music-writing pal, Frank Milan (formerly of Silver City), then the next day we got to Federal Way, where my mother lives. My brother Jim lives there and our youngest brother, Dan, and his lady Naomi, made it up the same day, so it was a reunion of sorts.

After a lovely visit, we headed to Bellevue  WA for a few days to see Dagny's daughter Selene and her two boys. Again it was great to see how they'd grown.

Then we came back. Constitutionally unable to retrace our steps, we headed down to Eastern Orego, went into Idaho and Wyoming, then into Utah. We did have to backtrack a bit, and we wound up in Moab where it was again scorching hot. At 4 am it was 77 degrees and headed above 100, so we packed up and left, getting home the next day.
We got back before the July 4th weekend started and hid out. Now, in a few days, I'm going on another road trip, this time with my friend Javaid Qazi. He'll be by here to pick me up and we'll be going to Marshall, IL, taking his wife's ashes back to her family for a ceremony there.

It's a lot of miles, and in between I've been writing. The last trip, driving a 22-foot Uhaul in convoy with two others from Portland to Silver City, gave me an idea for a short story. In particular, staying in a freeway motel in California was... inspiring, let's say. I just finished a draft of the story and will let it sit for a time, then get back to it. It's called Motel Endings, and came out with a rather Raymond Carver flavor to it, in tone, if not language.

I'm hoping all my trips will give me material for fiction. Travel is supposed to open your eyes, after all, and a writer with open eyes is handed diamonds. Usually they need a lot of polishing, but life isn't supposed to be easy.