I’ve taken a step back from social media recently, including this blog.
Think about a woman or man you find particularly attractive. You see them every once in a while. Part of the appeal is the mystery of who they are, everything about them that you don’t already know. The fun of getting to know a new romantic partner is learning about their interests, their hobbies, their quirks, and their beliefs. Over time, this morphs into even the smallest details, from the way she stirs scrambled eggs with a spatula to the way he clears his throat every time he’s about to say something sarcastic. The mystery can go as deep as you want it to, but the relationship often thrives on that mystery. As time goes on, the surprises wane, but there’s no mistaking their role in falling in love.
If you were allowed to follow a potential romantic partner around via live video feed, twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week, observing and evaluating them, and becoming acquainted with even the minutest detail of their daily behaviors, it’s unlikely that any such partner would pass the test. The mystery would be removed before it ever served its purpose. It would no longer inspire conversation. Rather than bother asking anyone about themselves, you’d simply tune in to the video feed and answer the question yourself, through direct observation. You might even come to believe that you know that person in a superior way than you would have if you had relied on face-to-face conversation and personal interaction.
In this way, the always-on world of social media plays itself out to boredom. But it need not be this way. You could uninstall Facebook and go back to asking people what they’re up to when you see them. The mystery would return. You’d pass the time in conversation, rather than in observation. This won’t cure all social ills, of course, but it will help you retain the value of really sitting down and talking to someone.
There is an element of this in my relationship to my blog, too. Early on, the blog helped me organize and catalog my thoughts. This was important when my thoughts needed better organization. It produced a rather extensive personal philosophy, which I refined over the course of ten years, and which I have implemented in my own life. It helped me keep track of important running- and fitness-related ideas that I could refer back to later. It even inspired me to conduct some formal research in pursuit of serious knowledge.
Now, though, I’m familiar with my thoughts and my ideas. They’re still evolving, but much less needs to be stated explicitly. These days I am more apt to apply existing principles than develop new ones to handle new situations. So the value of explication is much lower, and as a result of that, I’ve discovered that I’d much rather do than say. I’d rather be out there, exercising, running, playing music, playing with my daughter, having a good and fulfilling life. I don’t really want to waste time talking about it, I want to live it.
Maybe I’m just older, and I see more value in carpe diem than in carpe dictum. Or maybe I’m finally getting comfortable with myself and no longer feel the need to justify every thought and action. Or maybe I’ve been running a blog without a real audience for ten years and have better things to do than figure out how to SEO my way into libertarian super-stardom.
Who knows? The point is, I’m not here. I’m out there.