At the end of last week, Every Time I Die and The Damned Things frontman Keith Buckley posted a long and obviously well-considered blog entry onto his website. On January 1st 2012, Keith deleted his Instagram account, and removed the temptation to post to Facebook and Twitter constantly by deleting the apps from his phone (although not deleting the accounts, because that shit is hard to get verified).
The piece itself runs at over four and a half thousand words, but his writing style makes it an easy read, and you should definitely go and check it out. No, seriously.
Tl;dr? Fine. Essentially, he wasn’t liking what he saw from friends and other people who, without these outlets to spew forth their every thought, would keep certain controversial or plain retarded opinions to themselves, and he’d be much more inclined to spend time with them.
So, rather than unfollowing/unfriending, which would undoubtedly cause that frankly bizarre overreaction people have to digital snubs, he has instead opted for a full black-out from social media. His decision is summed up perfectly by this:
“So while it may not be ‘polite’ to remove myself from your inexorable stream of self dick-suckery, if you’re that offended you can bring it up in conversation. Unless we don’t have any, because we’re not really friends.”
I’m sure extricating one’s self from the web of social networking is something many of us have considered at one point or another. This fear of offending someone you vaguely once knew, and instead watching them blathering on about how terrible their life is in a detached and uninterested way is ridiculous when you think about it.
I’ve managed to avoid it myself to a certain degree, particularly as my Facebook inbox filled up with friend requests from people I went to school with but barely knew (or, indeed, those who made my life a misery at times), or clearly didn’t value the relationship enough to maintain an ‘IRL’ friendship, but it has extended into realms untrodden. I get requests from band members, bedroom musicians, and a variety of industry types, and I don’t really know if I want them to know whatever it is I’ve forgotten to hide on my profile, but I don’t want to appear rude – which is ridiculous with regard to people I’m never likely to meet.
I often feel the pressure in reverse, too. People I know are friends with this big musician, or that respected community person, but when their friends list stretches into the upper hundreds, do they really give a fuck if I friend them or not? Or am I second guessing what would be a gesture of friendship that might be a big boost to this website to which I give so much of my free time?
So from a personal perspective, I respect the decision. As a creature whose self-loathing for his somewhat reclusive and anti-social antics (read: lazy and set in my ways), I also respect the desire to forge old friendships anew, and to make new ones the old-fashioned way (with alcohol and awkwardness). For all the benefits of social media (and don’t take this as a rant agin’ it, because I am well aware of the up sides), the internet is a lonely place. Those inane updates, taken mockingly to the extreme of “lol pooping brb”, but in reality not always so far off, are often a cry for attention. Keith puts it rather poignantly:
“We are forced out into the open because people (myself included) think that if we don’t have anything to share, then we must not have anything at all and we ignore the fact that our darkest moments are actually our most human.”
As I said, I know the value of social networking, and won’t be deleting my various accounts (and there aren’t that many compared to others), but I hope this gives you pause for thought. I think Mr. Buckley has the right of it. Go outside every once in a while. Pet a dog/cat/child (your own, obviously, if you have one)/narwhal. Throw a snowball at your best girl and get down to the funky music tonight.