Interdependent Web: The faultiest of tools, the heart of blogging, Austin on edge

Interdependent Web: The faultiest of tools, the heart of blogging, Austin on edge

A weekly roundup of blogs and other user-generated web content about Unitarian Universalism


The faultiest of tools

I hardly need to say that Facebook is in trouble. People are cutting back, or cutting out their Facebook usage completely. I’ve been an enthusiastic Facebook user for a long time, but even people like me are disturbed. I deleted the Facebook app from my phone this week. It may not be necessary—or even possible—for some of us to leave Facebook. But all of us need to be less naive about the real costs of this “free” service.

The irony is that so much of the conversation about Facebook’s flaws is happening on Facebook. In one such discussion, UU World editor Chris Walton wrote that “it’s not fun anymore.”

I’m not walking away yet, because I remain grateful for the connections I maintain here and because journalists depend on the site for contacts and readers. But the promise of a social network where we can simultaneously be pen pals with cousins and crack jokes with friends and share photo albums with grandparents and keep up with the news and conduct our denominational business and mobilize activists and shop for clothes and chat with people who share our obscure hobbies and lol at video clips was always too good to be true. (Facebook, March 20)

In a letter to her congregants in the Church of the Larger Fellowship, the Rev. Meg Riley describes our conundrum.

Here’s the thing: no other platform has the reach nor the familiarity that facebook does. I’ve joined every new one that has come out, and they have been ghost towns compared to the robust presence of people searching for us on facebook. . . .

We live in a radically imperfect world. We are part of it, and this is further supporting evidence of that fact! Still yet, wondrous people live, beauty abounds, and real connections are made with the faultiest of communication tools. (Church of the Larger Fellowship, March 22)

UU World managing editor Kenneth Sutton offers a list of ways to moderate Facebook’s influence in your life.

  • If you see great information or entertainment (on Facebook or elsewhere), take the time to go to the original source and share that link on Facebook. If you are not already familiar with the source and confident in its veracity, try to confirm the facts first (or, you know, just don’t share it). . . .
  • Recognize your own role in whatever you think is a problem. Learn how to set your privacy settings; be skeptical; unfollow or unfriend people and pages liberally; remove the app from your phone. (If you can’t stop checking Facebook, that’s not Facebook’s fault, that’s something you need to figure out a way to deal with. /end cranky old man mode) (Homefries, March 22)

The heart of blogging

Tina Porter writes about falling short of her New Year’s Resolution—to “shut up and say thank you” when someone compliments her.

I should have called her by now, or written a sweet thank you note, but instead I’ve been replaying that stupid scene in my head trying to figure out what the hell I thought I was doing—here, she had said these beautiful things about me, about what an example I was for her, and instead of simply hugging her and being grateful about it, I took all my insecurities and poured them into her. I’m thinking of how much courage it took to stand up and say all she had and I … called her a jerk. (Ugly Pies, March 21)

Liz James writes about her journey back to herself—one that leads, along the way, to divorce.

We’re taught to hold on to marriage until it is ripped from our clammy, clenched fists. I had this story of tremendous judgement in my mind. I thought that, when that all ended, people would accuse us of not working hard enough, not taking a stand for what matters.

I spent months reminding myself that I am not a thing, and steeling myself to endure what people would say.

What they said was “I’m so sorry. How are you all doing? How can I help?” Because, turns out, they love us and care about us and want us to be happy. However that looks. They never thought we were things. (Liz James Writes, March 16)

On edge in Austin

The Rev. Erin Walter describes what it has been like to live in Austin.

Here in Austin we have added bombs to that deeply sad list on the heart, the list that has no name, the list with school shooting on the top.

I know what everyone thinks of thoughts and prayers. They are not much without real work. But I know police and investigators and neighbors and families are working hard, so I think we will take your prayers of support too. Send them. (Facebook, March 19)​

The Rev. Joanna Fontaine Crawford walks carefully through the spring-blooming bluebonnets in Austin.

“Would you even know what a trip wire was, if you saw it?” I asked myself, mocking.

It felt ridiculous, but there it was, a warning we were hearing from radio, tv, and internet. Be on the lookout for strange packages, trip wires, backpacks.

This is how terrorists work, of course. They put everyone on alert, everyone on edge, moving through your ordinary day in a most unordinary way. (Boots and Blessings, March 21)

Content for your ears

With apologies to mindfulness practitioners, I have discovered that podcasts make washing the dishes—and other dull tasks—much more tolerable. As I push away from Facebook and other screen media, it’s good to have something I can listen to, leaving my hands free for the tasks of parenting and homemaking.

In the most recent episode of her Reverence Road podcast, the Rev. Audette Fulbright interviews her family, finding out what it’s like to be a minister’s partner or a minister’s child. Fulbright also posts a Reverence Road daily practice on Facebook.

Steady yourself in your day today by pausing and taking three deep, full breaths each hour. . . .
Breathing in, recall to mind the deep beauty and goodness of the world.
Breathing out, send love for all beings, beginning with yourself.
Your mindfulness, this attention to your own experience and awareness of your interconnectedness, blesses the world. (Facebook, March 20)