I don’t have any “friends”

31 12 2009

Or: Why I got off Facebook

[Continuing with personal posts for the few who are still reading this blog…]

Well, I finally deactivated my Facebook account. It was really just getting too boring to read. First of all, I was never the “Facebook whore” that some people are. I never had more than about 80 friends, and most of those were either relatives, people I have met, or known readers of this blog. And they apparently have very boring lives, and fairly uninteresting thoughts. (Sorry.) Secondly, I figured that if people really need to contact me, my e-mail address is in the “About” section of this blog, and all hate / fan mail usually comes there anyway. AG used to get on my case for spending too much time on Facebook, so to all of those who posted about how much you love peanut butter or videos of puppies playing guitars, thanks for making my relationship a lot smoother.

The real shame about Facebook, and perhaps its evil twin, Twitter (which I have never been on), is that I am convinced that it seriously dumbs down the already mentally challenged nature of Internet discourse. All of those stupid Facebook status updates about your gardening or cartoons you liked when you were a kid have distracted lots of intelligent people enough to prevent them from writing more intelligent, extended thoughts on real issues. I know at least a few friends for whom this is the case. It also contributes to the hyper-personalism that I believe is a true plague on modern discourse. One should automatically realize that your team losing the game or your cat coughing up a hairball is not a worthy subject for written correspondence. Such social networking sites often become a magnifier of people’s small scale megalomania.

There is a certain horror vacui that such sites feed off of, the truth of human existence that what happens in our daily lives is ephemeral and fundamentally unimportant. As I have written before, modern existence is allergic to the perennial; it has no time for truth that transcends the personal. Read St. Thomas Aquinas, or listen to a work by Guillaume de Machaut, or look upon an anonymous work of sacred art in a Baroque church, and then try to tell me what the artist or author was “really like”. It doesn’t matter what they were like, because what they have created has touched the transpersonal and unchanging realm of Ideas; they have invoked a Beauty and Form that can be found everywhere yet belongs to no particular age or circumstance. In its own very superficial way, these Internet sites contribute to intellectual vice based on the sentiment that only the personal is important. Real art, thought, and beauty come from the opposite sentiment.

Going back (ironically) to the personal, I have always thought about how I could probably advance in my own “writing career” (not that it is a career at all, just a hobby for now) if only I could cater to this “personalist” culture. What if I wrote my own memoir of growing up poor in the barrio, of my religious wayfaring, of the various struggles that I have had in my life? I could totally ham it up and it might sell like hotcakes, because people eat that sh*t up. But what real service would I be doing? I know I would not feel 100% good about it.

But people can argue that I am being a hypocrite since I have a blog, and what is the difference between that and Facebook? Well, nothing in principal, but for a little over a year now, I have tried to make this blog more into a notepad and a forum for the thoughts that I don’t think anyone else would publish. And to tell the whole truth, while I find lots of authors that I like in books, in terms of the Internet, I find 95% of the stuff there to be completely boring and banal, especially the sites that have pretenses of being “erudite”. I write the blog that I would want to read. Maybe that is the ultimate megalomania, but hey, at least I don’t post pictures of my cat.


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18 responses

13 05 2011
guadalquivir

I came here to look up some baroque music videos I had seen here two or three days ago and to report that it seems to me that this kind of music or your selection of it is very sad.

Since basically I can’t understand orchester music I had better not try too hard in that case.

13 05 2011
yomeentiendo

I am not in Facebook, have never been, and I am shocked at how popular and nearly obligatory that membership has become in just a couple of years. Abominable.
For instance, I am writing on a shared computer, and for a time I still had the habit to click on “like it”, and then saw that it registered in somebody else’s name! Awful.
And to make it an aim to collect friends like trophees! Dozens of them, as if it were even possible to get to know so many people.
But the truly ominous thing is only how little time it took to make all these sheep sign up, maybe even (as requested) with their real name. Geez!

4 01 2010
Eric

Yet, I see you are still on Yelp…:)

3 01 2010
the previous anonymous

The world of difference I think you’re referencing sounds to me like the difference between something you like and something you don’t; So I guess the content does make the split, but only so much as you do. Seriously no one here has intelligent friends that write long articles on facebook related to theology or music or sex? It seems obvious that the mediums are one and the same.

2 01 2010
Walt C

I like Facebook to keep up with friends and family for major events or get togethers. I know some artist and musician friends who also post their works there so I enjoy that. Goin’ on a beer run during NFL Sunday, your cat pictures, and finding lost cows on Farmville are not major events so I ignore that stuff.

Arturo, this blog is “brain food” when it comes to religious topics. The blog entries I’ve read here have been “appetizers” to go out and read more extensively on certain subjects. At the least I feel it’s time well spent.

2 01 2010
FrGregACCA

Yeah, well, speaking of things to ignore on the Internet…

31 12 2009
Anthony

I like Facebook for personal and professional reasons and have no plans to give it up. That said, Arturo’s one concrete complaint about it — the annoying status updates — is right on the mark. (Fortunately, there’s an easy remedy: just “hide” the worst offenders and you’ll never see them on the home page again.) This is one symptom of a larger problem: we learn far too much about our friends on Facebook. I have found that I respect my friends less than I used to, now that I am exposed to so much more of their thoughts, opinions, interests, habits, etc. Ignorance really was bliss.

31 12 2009
Sam Urfer

If you wrote a book, I’d buy it. You have had an interesting life, and you are a good writer. This is a good combination. You wouldn’t have to gussy it up for marketing purposes, either, the unvarnished truth could sell itself here, I think.

31 12 2009
Sam Urfer

Everyone is more of an asshole when they post on the Internet; that’s just life.

31 12 2009
Christopher I

Funny, I was thinking the other day that I hope AV does get around to writing a book. Surely, he will be driven off this medium by his better senses sooner or later, and we will be deprived of his particular insight into the universal.

31 12 2009
Jonathan Prejean

I am too sated after several days of Natchitoches meat pies to actually be irritated that you suggested Facebook to me and *then* left me with all the crazies. (OK, the truth is I’ve deleted most of them and told the people who are still friends with them not to bother me with crazy talk, so I’m actually quite content with FB. And I bet AG would disagree with you about the importance of Aggie football. 😉 )

In any case, none of this matters, since you have already been targeted as an e-pologist by one of the Calvinist drones of James White. Truly, there is no more vicious punishment for spending time discussing theology online.
http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2009/12/of-mary-there-is-never-enough.html

31 12 2009
Ed

I don’t get the hostility to Facebook, as it is (there are reasons to be hostile to Facebook – privacy invasion, etc…to be sure) – no one forces you to “friend” anyone. You don’t have to accept the “friend” request of the guy who beat you up in elementary school. You can ignore it. You can limit your Facebook “friends” to twenty of your closest relatives and friends, control your privacy so no one else can see anything about you on FB, and use it as a handy way to communicate news.

If you complain about all the meaningless interactions you have on Facebook, that means you have friended people you shouldn’t have and gotten involved in stupid applications and games that are a waste of time. Facebook can be very private – although you have to constantly keep a watch on to make sure that the Facebook gods aren’t lifting privacy restrictions without you know it.

People use FB as a family/friend network. They use it for PR & marketing. They use it to promote themselves. So? Use it the way you want to.

31 12 2009
Christopher

There is a world of difference between Facebook and a blog, and especially this blog: content. Facebook, by its nature, discourages intelligent discourse and encourages solipsism (and they censor you, or at least they censored me…but that’s another story). Of all the Christianity blogs I know, Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, etc. this is easily the best of the lot, and I’m not Catholic.

I ask myself two questions on a near-daily basis: 1) Why am I not Catholic? and 2) Why am I still on Facebook? I always find reasons to stay where I am, as we all do; but these words from Umberto Eco leave my future stances in doubt: ‘f you interact with things in your life, everything is constantly changing. And if nothing changes, you’re an idiot.’

31 12 2009
Arturo Vasquez

There is a difference: at least here, I don’t pretend that any of you are my “friends” just because you read my blog. I am pretty sure most you don’t know me in “real life”, and for all I know, most of you may very well hate my guts. If it’s any consolation, AG has even said that I am more of an asshole on the Internet than in person. In real life, I am all sweetness and light. Can’t be helped, I guess.

31 12 2009
Leah

I built a Facebook page only to realize that I didn’t have anyone in real-life or Internet life to friend. That still depresses me…

31 12 2009
Anonymous

You are right, there is no difference between your blog and Facebook.

31 12 2009
Sean

I deleted my facebook account (a more arcane process than deactivating it) 3 weeks ago and, after a few days of DTs, haven’t looked back. The tipping point for me was when I realized that one of my “friends” was somebody who never even spoke to me in high school and another beat me up every day after elementary school. I was also disturbed by the recent, and I believe deceptive, change to the privacy settings.

What has been truly shocking are the reactions I’ve gotten as friends and family realize that I’m no longer there… some have reacted like I’ve slapped them across the face with a glove and others think it cause to have me declared incompetent.

31 12 2009
Manuel

If you wrote a book about you being “Latino” and Catholic in the USA that would sell like hotcakes. Heck, I’m wasting my time, I should write a book about me being Latino and Catholic in the USA! Your right: those neoCaths and WASPs would eat it up

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