Thursday, August 02, 2012

I'm squelching Facebook

I’m squelching Facebook.

As a kid, my family took road trips up and down I-5 – from Oregon, going to Washington or California.   

When we traveled with friends, we had a CB-Radio to communicate between vehicles.  

CB- Radios were imperfect – and a significant amount of “noise” – rattling-rustling-screeching noises -often came through the CB Radio speaker.  I didn’t understand how it worked, but I remember how my dad would dial the “squelch” button back & forth and the chaotic noise would dissipate, at least a little bit.

I’ve thought about this “squelch” feature with a growing angst I’ve had about how I engage Facebook – and how my friends engage Facebook.

The “squelch” feature on a radio transmitter adjusts the level at which the radio responds to a signal.  If the squelch is turned down, all the noises come through – and it sounds like chaos.  If the squelch is turned up, only the strongest, clearest signals come through.  “Breaker, breaker, this is M&M .”  (M&M was my “handle” – for Marty Michelson, of course!)

Over the next few weeks I’m going to work on adjusting my “squelch” feature on Facebook.  (No, this is not a real feature !)  I’m going to be adjusting what I tune-in – and what I tune-out – and how I turn on Facebook entirely.

Squelching Facebook -

I’m going to refreshingly tune in to many things I love about Facebook:

I love reading about joys and sorrows in the lives of friends.  I’ll tune in for that.

I love updates on life that give insight into maturity, achievements, growth, development, weddings, graduations, trips – and festive occasions or situations of grief.  I’ll tune in for that.

I like pictures.  I’ll tune in for those!  I'd prefer a few pictures - I won't go through your entire album.  I'd sure like to see the highlights!

I like being able to stay in touch with extended family.  I’ll tune in for that.

I like knowing specifically about what is going on in the lives of former students.  I’ll tune in for that.

I enjoy connection with persons I’ve gone to school with, been in conferences with, or parishioners or other friends from over the years.  I like knowing how people are doing.  I’ll stay tuned in for existential connection to meaningful events and maturity in life!

I enjoy reading about specific and deliberate causes that people are invested in with their time  - the specific events of solidarity and activism that engage people’s lives.  I’ll tune in for that.

If you blog, and write something cool in an extended way – or if you know of someone who has written something important – and you send a short clip or summary of it – more than likely I’ll click on your link and tune in for that.  I care about what personal friends think, feel and share.
I’ll tune in for the funny in life.  The silly things your kids say.  The fact that you spilled your coffee and left an awkward stain before your job interview.  The quirky conversation you have with your boss.  I love these things.  Share your life’s humor.  I’ll like it!

If you have life-shaping-personally engaging religious views – I’d like to read about them.

I'll come by to wish you a Happy Birthday or Happy Anniversary!  Days to celebrate for sure!

And, I’m going to tune out a bunch of other things.

If you’re posting any of what I call the “generated” pictures or images designed for use in social media.  I’ll tune that out.

I read News from around the Globe, daily, from a variety of world sources.  But, I don’t come to Facebook for politics (unless it’s about or from an individual I know who is actively engaged and invested with their life – then I’ll read with enthusiasm.)  I particularly don’t tune in for personal assessments on party politics, in the U.S.  There are lots of other things to read about in the news - on news websites, not Facebook. I’m tuning that out.

I’m happy that many of my friends like this-or-that type of sport – or this-or-that specific team.  But, I don’t tune in for updates on your favorite players, the recent scores of any game, nor do I need to know that any friends (in Oklahoma City, in particular) are “Thundering Up!”  If you go to a game, post a pic of yourself, I’ll like it.  If you (and every other fan) is tweeting about refs, scores, rebounds, touchdowns, time-outs, or goals,- and that’s all you have to say -  I’ll tune that out.  I don’t come to Facebook for ESPN commentary.

If you have a narrow religious bigotry – or if you Facebook is a “tool” for you to push your beliefs on others (outside of the side-linked blog entry that I can elect to read  - or not), I’ll probably tune you out.  I’m a Christian myself.  My life is bound up in that as my identity, but I don’t come to Facebook to convert others – nor do I want others to criticize or ostracize my religious commitments.

If you direct message me on Facebook – or invite me to an event – I may or may not tune in – I’m not sure.  I come to see what it’s going on in people’s lives – and to share the things going on in my life, so some evites are helpful!  If you need me for something in a work or deliberate way – send me an email.  If you want to send me a ‘status update’  direct note to me on my wall – super!  If you need me for an appointment or review or work – I’ll tune that out.  Facebook is not work.  No work gets done there!  (Trust me, I see the evidence of the lack of work on Facebook in University classrooms!)

If you've read a unique book - or seen a great movie - and want to sing it's praise.  I'll probably check it out.  If you've just read the same book that every other person is reading on the New York Times Best-Seller list - or seen the same movie that just took in millions on the most recent opening night of whatever year - I'm not sure that your post will inspire me that something remarkable is happening.  Maybe. 

If you’re into a cause you support, faithfully – you genuinely might make me a believer with you.  I believe in causes that promote Good – the good for the all!  If you’re posting about the latest trending subject that everyone else is posting about in the trending need to supposedly support this trend, I’ll probably tune it out.  I believe Kony should be stopped and peace should be fostered – but I don’t think it does much good to jump on the latest bandwagon of tweets &updates . . . while months later, Kony still isn’t stopped no matter how many people tweeted it, status updated it, or shared the video!  Facebook is a rallying place for a bunch of nothing when it comes to actually changing things or making the world better or different.  If you’re just commenting on the latest trending subject or cause – I’ll probably tune you out.  If you’re rallying around the latest cause with a venomous “shout” that ostracizes or hurts others, I might unfriend you.  The world needs more generosity and kindness, not another place for bullying or belittling.

And, I’m going to turn-off Facebook, too.

As I monitor my squelch on Facebook, I’ll also be turning it off more than I’m turning it on!  Some days, I might come to connect for an hour or more.  Most days, I’ll just be here to share birthday wishes and like your latest pictures – for a few minutes.  

As I squelch out much of the chaotic noise of Facebook – I’m going to tune in my signal to other great things in my life!  I’ll share that in due time!

“Breaker-breaker.  This is M&M.  We gone.”

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