Caroline, I think you may have misunderstood this essay. I’m not advocating that anyone abandon social networks (I didn’t abandon Facebook… I still have a presence there through my Facebook page). In fact, I’m all for social networks and for the incredible way they create connections between people who would otherwise never know each other. I think it’s fantastic.
In my case, I had two places on Facebook where people could connect with me: the Profile and the Page. Most of my friends were already following me on the Page and my time on Facebook was already being spent interacting through the Page. Deactivating my Facebook Profile did not shut me off to anyone. (My friends can’t be ‘deleted’ anyway… what a silly concept.)
So yes, I’m still very much on and accessible through Facebook (and Twitter, and Google+). The point of this essay was that in the age of instant connectivity, it’s dangerous to identify and give priority to all connections with the same level of attention. When I’m sitting with a friend face-to-face, or writing an email, or replying to a comment, I am doing those things. I am being present to where I am.
I’m not saying that we need to put people in categories or buckets, ‘mark’ them as friends, acquaintances, contacts, and then treat them accordingly. Not at all. I think of everyone as a ‘friend’, but I also make conscious choices about where I invest my time. I may feel like a stranger I pass on the street is a ‘friend’, but if the friend I’m walking with is talking to me, I’m not going to ignore him to listen to the stranger yelling at me on the street. If a million people ask for my attention tomorrow and then at the same time my mom asks for my help, obviously I’m going to invest my time with my mother.
On Facebook, as far as interaction goes, there isn’t even a distinction between my mother and my friends. Obviously I still know the distinction, but my point is that social networks currently encourage not being conscious about how we interact with others, so it’s something we need to watch out for.