Channeling Alan Levine’s “Being There” thesis tonight:
It’d been awhile since I’d logged onto Facebook. Obviously the joint’s still jumping. Last time I’d checked in, though, it all looked very busy and co-optive to me. A superchatportalfeedgame environment. Carnivalesque at best, but the smell of all the funnel cakes and the strained voices of the barkers were getting to me a bit–at least, that’s how it felt.
But today I logged on again, not to experience Facebook, but to look for connections, accept some friend requests, find the birthdays. But that’s the Facebook experience, you say. Yes and no. Considered in the abstract, Facebook becomes a superchatportalfeedgame environment. But in it, even with all the blare and busy stuff, are my friends and family, and they’re enjoying the rides and keeping the ties a-binding.
I don’t want to say that I suspended my critical awareness while I was in there today. I don’t think I did, actually. But I did suspend something. Disbelief? Judgment? I’m not sure. I do know, however, that thinking in it instead of thinking about it yields different results. And that’s also something to think about.
Besides, I got two great links from my son who’s away at college, and who’s missed very much around these parts. The first was this thoughtful account of video games and diegeses and metanarratives. The comments are also quite a wonderful read. The discourse here would not be out of place in a senior English seminar–or in any introduction to film studies. Also, and it’s selfish of me to say so, when my son said “here, you’ll really like this,” and behold, I really liked it, I felt, well, understood, and close, and connected. Being there meant being with my son, for that moment; Facebook was simply the platform (though of course there’s nothing simple about that platform).
The second link was not directed to me, but I was curious about it because of the way my son framed the link with a short comment on his wall. So I went there, too, and learned more: more about repressive governments, gaming culture, dissidents, and my son’s own growing political awareness.
It wasn’t a dinner-table conversation, but the connection had its own strength, integrity, and authenticity. And the platform enabled the connection–but only if I was there and answerable.
Being there indeed. Thanks for the reminder, Ian.