The answer to both questions is yes. I am happier. But I do miss it. I'm lonely. I just moved to a rural area in a new state where I work at home. How am I supposed to make friends without social media? But I also find that I'm not as close to ANYONE as I used to be. Is it me? It's partly me. I've been really busy with work at the computer, and when I'm done with that, I don't really want to spend any more time on the computer. But I also got to thinking...is it ALL me? Maybe not.
Then mainemilyhoon just summed up everything I was thinking, even though she had no idea I was thinking it. (The collective unconscious is cranking this week!) I used to spend a lot of time online in meaningful, conversational interaction. Livejournal, mailing lists, message boards, email and chat rooms. Almost all of those forms of interaction have now been replaced by Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Goodreads...basically, websites that encourage either very short, quippy posts or the sharing of images, links, reviews and tips. I am amused and delighted by adorable cats and captions, but I am not really getting to know the person who posted them, and the meaningful stuff gets lost among all of the reposting of funny stuff and petitions and blah di blah.
What really drove this home to me was the other day when I former Livejournal friend posted on Facebook about some kind of family tragedy or illness--I couldn't quite tell what it was. If there was an earlier post about an accident or diagnosis or surgery, I missed it. A lot of people were commenting and making reference to what had happened so I don't think it was any kind of a secret, it seemed more likely that I had just been missing some updates. But I didn't want to ask. I just wished them well. But I felt bad that I no longer knew what was going on in a friend's life, likely because Facebook is too clogged with other junk and shows things selectively or in a weird order.
Today's social media also makes me feel left out...even when I'm not. Even when I was tweeting regularly, Twitter is such that you have to be on it all the time not to miss things. I would see remnants of friends talking to each other about something cool and think, "Damn, wish I'd been on Twitter when that conversation was happening! Now it's too late." Livejournal was something where comments could go on between people for days. You didn't have to be "on" Livejournal constantly to catch good moments. It also seems like a lot of Twitter is about tweeting how awesome your life is in the moment. "Woo! Having a great time at #ALAMidwinter drinking in the hotel bar with (insert 3 mega famous authors here)!" "Our plane just landed in Italy, gelati here I come!" etc etc. Which always makes me feel like everyone is having an awesome jet-setting life but me. It's different when someone blogs about a trip. It's like, if your friend went on vacation, came home and gives you a call to tell you about it vs. your friend calls you from a restaurant, describes her delicious meal and then hangs up, leaving you to stare despondently at your frozen pizza. Am I being neurotic and competitive? Probably. But I just...never USED to feel that way, certainly not to this degree. No doubt, the nature of online interaction HAS changed drastically and obviously the new way does suit a lot of people, but it doesn't suit me.
I have been pondering solutions to this problem, though. More later.