I spent five minutes on Facebook this morning, and I couldn’t wait to leave.
I commented on a couple of family posts and liked a couple of Hugh Howey’s posts, but I still couldn’t wait to get out of there.
I also liked posts by some of my friends, most of whom are on Facebook, yet it didn’t feel like a genuine interaction. That only seems to happen on our respective websites and blogs.
I know there are special interest groups on Facebook – like Indies Unlimited – that should be of interest to me, but I am so uncomfortable on Facebook that I’m never there long enough to interact with them.
I don’t know why I am so viscerally ill at ease on Facebook, but I would like to find out, so forgive me if this post turns into a form of digital navel gazing.
Okay, starting with the factual, the following graphic is a side-by-side view of my WordPress and Facebook pages. WordPress is on the left, Facebook is on the right:
What strikes you first when you compare these two pages?
If you’re anything like me, your first impression of WordPress will be that it’s visually restful. Your eye is drawn to centre stage for the main event while the ancillary functions stay modestly in the wings.
I’m no graphic designer but I have worked with images most of my life, and to me, the WordPress layout design is:
- easy to read
- easy to navigate
- and uncluttered
By contrast, as soon as I glance across at the Facebook page, my eyes start to spin. Everywhere I look, the realestate of the page is packed with information, all of it trying to get my attention in some way. I can actually feel my body tense up as my brain tries to sort the clutter into something I can work with.
And before you think I’m a neat freak…I’m not. I love the elegant minimalism of traditional Japanese interior design, but I loath the sterile feel of contemporary interior design.
My idea of warm and cosy is this:
In case you’re wondering, this is a mockup of the website I was thinking of creating about two years ago. I gave up on the idea for a number of reasons, the main one being that moving ‘house’ would have meant losing most of the visibility I had gained on WordPress.com. I’d rather have a simple blog that everyone can find than a snazzy website that people would have to find all over again.
Anyway…the background photo is of my actual loungeroom and illustrates the kind of clutter I love – warm, cosy, intimate.
[Slight graphic correction: the walls are not dark brown as shown in the photo; they are actually a warm, olive green]
To me, Facebook is not intimate at all. It’s like walking into a barn filled with strangers having a party. There’s no room to dance or do things so everyone stands around, drinks in hand, shouting to be heard over the high decibel background noise. And even when I find a group of people I actually know, I don’t feel as if we can have a deep and meaningful conversation because you can’t do deep and meaningful while shouting at the top of your lungs.
By contrast, all of my interactions on WordPress feel like an intimate dinner party, regardless of who’s hosting the meal.
And right there, I think I have my answer. I am who I am, and I take myself wherever I go, even online.
I’m not a typical introvert though. I’m not shy. I can stand up in front of a class and give a lecture without the slightest twinge of discomfort, but I simply can’t do big, loud parties. Never have, never will. I don’t even understand why other people enjoy them so much. It’s as if I’m missing the big party gene, and when I am forced to attend one, you will generally find me in the kitchen – if there is one – or standing in a corner somewhere, bored out of my brain.
In the real world, my preferred form of social interaction is dinner with close friends. While we eat, we do catch up on the minutiae of life, but once coffee and dessert arrive, the conversation inevitably turns to issues – political, ethical, philosophical, universal – and I’m like a pig in the proverbial. My brain is on fire, and I am totally in the moment. I could stay up all night because we’re all firing off each other. It’s wonderful.
In the digital world, I frequently have dinner at Pinky’s house. Pinky runs a salon where debate is the dessert served up with coffee. Or I might pop in to the Passive Guy to catch up with the latest issues in publishing. And then there’s dancing and trips to the Museum of Modern Art with Candy, or afternoon tea with EllaDee. Anne invites me in for an afternoon of botanical drawing, while David Prosser has me in stitches with his sly-yet-gentle humour.
Take a look at the people in the sidebar of this post. They are all my friends, not because we’ve friended each other, but because we’ve shared moments of mutual understanding. They are all kindred spirits in one way or another, and WordPress [for all its faults] makes our intimate communities possible.
Thanks WordPress, and sorry Facebook but this square peg will never find a home on your pages.