Personal Diaspora

Yesterday I posted this on Facebook:

“Yo: what strategies have people come up with for getting off facebook and maintaining the online community and camaraderie we’ve developed around here? Honestly: I just want to take a bunch of you with me to some cooler place that’s not so corporate and evil. I imagine that the new place will develop from a whole bunch of smaller places, that the new way is that we’ll link communities together as we want to. In the meantime, I want to be a part of one of those smaller places and I’m seriously thinking about starting a blog on this website I don’t use much for my book. I’ll just post stuff there and have it set up to post here too. If you get an invite from me sometime to join something else it’s cause I like you! Who else is doing this?”

Then a bunch of people responded and this is what I wrote:

Sascha Altman DuBrul thanks for the input everyone. this is actually quite a heartfelt issue for me. Daniela,
i can totally imagine a scenario that if i left fb i’d lose most of my contacts and i’d gain some unexpected ones. at this point i can’t image actually leaving fb, i’m similarly in the position that my livelihood depends on being visible enough that people can easily find me. i just don’t like that it’s the center of my social interaction and that everything i write here and all the responses to it disappear into some bizarre wormhole that no one ever sees and that i can barely find. i want control of my writing and i’m happy to share it where more people will see it, and communicate over here as necessary, but I want it somewhere else too. i also want some control of my social network, the people i actually care enough about to be in touch with off this platform. but the truth is there are a bunch of things i fucking love about Facebook: like how I get to communicate with everyone from brilliant Chilean radio personalities to Palestinian Bedouin renegade artists living on the West Bank to the kids I went to elementary school with who are now rabbis and doctors to folks I haven’t seen in person since we were in the streets getting beating by cops during the Tompkins Square Riots in 89. In many ways FB is the great leveler. My old Communist grandpa in California is on FB and so are my fellow social work students at Hunter and my mom and singers of old punk bands I idolized as a teenager, and…that’s a tiny tiny drop in the epic petri dish of humanity that’s floating around here. i even like the surrealness of figuring out who the evil spambots are that try and infiltrate the icarus group, it makes me feel like i’m living a bizarre science fiction movie.

I look at the Quirell kickstarter and I imagine a future where there are partnerships andalliances between groups with similar political and social affiliations where the platforms would connected to each other. I can imagine Icarus being a part of something like that in a not too distant future. Granted I don’t have a grasp of the technology and how it would actually work.
Right now I’m just wanting a place to gather my friends and keep track of them so we can be in touch with one another when it’s necessary. Maybe I just need a good mailing list with tags so I can reach out to people geographically and related to specific issues. Maybe I just need to use twitter more and have it posted to the front of my wordpress site and fb at the same time (I would have to learn be less verbose if I do that.) There was a time in my life before Facebook and Myspace where I was a connecting point between a lot of people, that’s part of why Icarus took off the way it did, because I was a good networker, I just knew lots of interesting people from growing up amidst the squatters movement in NYC and working on cross-border radical activist campaigns for years. When Friendster came out and I signed up in like…2004? I was amazed to see a design platform that looked like the inside of my head: who knows who? how are they connected to each other? I just naturally think like that, I’m fascinated by groups of people, and i feel held in a spiritual way by feeling connected to networks of people and their connections to history and physical location. If I have a religion it has to do with the connections between human beings.

Maybe that’s part of what I struggle with: I think there’s actually something divine about our communication with each other and I feel like it’s happening on such a profane medium that’s sucking our souls (and all our personal information directly in the service of the marketplace) and I want to have a more sacred space to talk about our inner worlds and how they intersect with the outside world.
Just to be real, part of the reason I’m tripping about this is cause I’m turning 40 in a couple weeks and I’m thinking a lot about WHO MY PEOPLE ARE: my tight family people, my immediate community people, my old friends i still love, all the folks i’m tied to through pouring our hearts into social justice work together over the years, the ones i want to make sure i hold onto that are far, far away, the ones i’ve been communicating with about visions and ideas but we’ve never even met face to face, the ones I’ve just met on Facebook but we’ve had really deep connections. i want to be in touch with my extended community. and i don’t want it to be happening all on Facebook. I want us to have community control of our personal networks.
Anyway, I think I need to go through all my contacts and put them in a google doc and tag them. I think I want to write a form letter and send it out to all the folks on Facebook who’s contact info I want to have off of Facebook. I have some work to do with my little website, which is all kinds of janky. All of this is separate from questions about what’s happening with Icarus. What I’m talking about with the kind of divine community where people are being very real with each other and its focused on support. we actually had that for 1000s of people in the Icarus phpbb forums for years before there was a mass migration to Facebook and the complexities of community moderation got too much for our organizational capacity, but that’s a whole other story for another time.”

Then my new Chilean friend Happy stepped up and put a blog on my website so I can post stuff like this, and that is what I’m going to do. Happy, you are amazing and I am so grateful.

 

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