the ole back-and-forth

I go back and forth on it. I vacillate. I am mercurial. I fluctuate, waffle, alternate. I waver like Brett Favre considering retirement.(1)

Sometimes I love this online life. We can make(2) ourselves into whoever we want to be, present the sides of ourselves that we’d rather the world see. My friends and followers(3) online never have to know that sometimes I’m a little meaner to Switters than I want to be. I don’t have to tell them how angry I get when he pisses anywhere but the litter box, for no apparent reason. I can hide the part where I shut him in the bathroom for a little while when he misbehaves.

Instead, these ‘friends’ and followers can just read the funny stories I have about him(4) and, in the spaces between my words, read how much I love the little dude. My life online doesn’t have to be filled with the negative things that make up much of life offline. And who wouldn’t want that kind of life, a life without negativity, without having to deal with bad things?

This is the appeal of social networking. We don’t have to deal with our ‘friends’ other than a quickly jotted line or two. Maybe we throw a big, squishy hug between asterisks and say: there, see? I care. Because asterisks mean that this is exactly what I would do if I were there.

If the Lutheran faith is Catholic-Lite, as I’ve heard it called, then by the same measure, social networking if life-lite. It has everything generally found in real life, with the addition of being able to quit it without any significant effort, resolve, or consequence.

The little x in the corner of our browsers and program displays should be called the Suicide Button.

This is why I vacillate.

Just like everyone else, I like to be lazy. I don’t want to have to spend an hour on the phone with a distraught friend, when I can just toss out some asterisk-encapsulated salve of commiseration.

But I value the few (and ever-diminishing) friends(5) I have so much that a quick little line of sympathy doesn’t at all communicate how much I care.

And so it’s because of this watered-down-ness, this lesser-life that is online life, that I can’t make up my mind whether I want to be part of it or not. I’ve log subscribed to the ‘do it right or don’t do it at all’ dictum, and online life violates that dictum in my opinion.

Often I think about quitting the whole damn thing. On a couple of occasions, I have. I gave up Facebook(6) a while ago, and have given up on several blogs. Twitter, I think, is headed the same way with me.

Yet, I keep coming back. I keep creating new blogs because after a while I feel I have enough stories to tell. For days at a time I’ll leave Twitter be, but then something will happen(7) that simply has to be tweeted.

I understand why I’m always leaning towards quitting the whole thing, but I don’t understand why I keep coming back.

So I vacillate. I waver. I consider and reconsider. If I’m

  1. But for real, instead of just pretending to waver so I can end up on the team I want to be on.
  2. Or, perhaps more accurately, re-make.
  3. Let’s consider the devaluing of the word ‘friend’ that social networking has caused. Filling me in on your life by updating a status is not a friend-type-thing to do. In this case, you’re treating me exactly as you’re treating the former-high-school-classmates who you don’t talk to.
  4. Like how his new favorite sleeping spot in the Christmas tree and, even though I worry about him being in there, it’s just about the cutest thing ever.
  5. Note the loss of the quotation marks here.
  6. Never did the MySpace thing.
  7. Usually restroom-related.

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