In the past week, an author I admire, Paul Kingsnorth (he’s also a co-founder of the Dark Mountain Project) announced that he was starting a gradual withdrawl from social media.
He was starting by deleting his twitter and personal facebook accounts, keeping his ‘professional page’ up for a while. He’s drawn a mixed reaction from people, some admiring him (whilst also stating that they couldn’t do that…), others deriding him and pointing out that without social media, he would not have managed to get some of his work published (a fact he accepts).
Then last week, author and ‘Moneyless Man’ Mark Boyle said that he was doing the same after a ‘not so sober’ meeting with Kingsnorth. Here’s what Mark said on Facebook:
Mark Boyle. 29 November at 20:52
After a few afternoon pints with Paul Kingsnorth, in our little nook in the wilds of Ireland, we came to the not-so-sober conclusion that the time was long past for leaving the realm of social media, and to instead spend those precious hours doing the things we dearly love doing, with people we dearly love doing them with.
Unlike most decisions made after an ale or stout, this one seemed like an even better idea the next morning. So from next Friday onwards, I shall be on social media no more.
Instead, I intend to spend those hours rewilding myself and the land; creating sanctuaries for people who, like I, have had enough of industrial civilisation and the violence it inflicts on Life; to spend time observing the natural world, and becoming part of it once again; making love unrushed; reading by the glow of a wood fire; and writing – from now on with a pencil and paper – about things I care about, on the off-chance they may be useful or enjoyable to someone else. Fiction, from here on, methinks.
Paul has written an excellent short blog on his website (where you can find his excellent writings) about why he is doing the same. Ditto to all Paul has said, as he says it better than I:
I also intend to move away, one step at a time, from all complex technologies, whose production lays waste to all I love, and to reclaim my life from the bombardment of emails that we’ve somehow accepted as normality.
If you’re ever in this neck of the woods, or need respite from the city and the speed of industrial civilisation, there is always a bed and a hearty meal for you here in The Happy Pig at An Teach Saor. I can’t always guarantee I’ll be free to hang out, but you’ll be welcome nonetheless. If you want to know where that is … find out the way we used to before social media was invented a few short years ago, and then follow your nose. Lets reclaim our sense of adventure.
Lots of love to you all, and thank you for all the wonderful interactions over the years.
One of the things that both Kingsnorth and Boyle have managed to do with social media is get their message out and promote what they were doing.
For example Mark Boyle used crowdfunding, promoted heavily through social media to get the money he needed to build his ‘free pub’. It’s fairly likely that without the exposure afforded through social media, whether directly or indirectly, he may not have been able to proceed.
So what does this say about these guys? One might say that they are selfish and now that they have what they want, they’re telling everyone to ‘get stuffed’, or could it be something else?
Personally, I think they have decided that it’s time to do what you love. Be with the ones you love and spend your time very wisely. There are many, particularly in the environmental movement, who feel that it’s impossible to effect change through government. We can see this right now at the COP21 climate talks in Paris as governments lobby for the ‘best’ result for them – one which doesn’t affect them too much and certainly doesn’t affect their ability for economic growth.
Maybe Kingsnorth and Boyle have accepted that change will not happen this way, that you can’t change the course of consumerism and capitalism, so you need to create your own reality and watch the rest crash and burn?
As Boyle says “Instead, I intend to spend those hours rewilding myself and the land; creating sanctuaries for people who, like I, have had enough of industrial civilisation and the violence it inflicts on Life; to spend time observing the natural world, and becoming part of it once again; making love unrushed; reading by the glow of a wood fire; and writing – from now on with a pencil and paper – about things I care about, on the off-chance they may be useful or enjoyable to someone else. Fiction, from here on, methinks.”
So where do I stand on this? In truth, I’m not sure! There is a part of me that has given up on governments and most people making rational decisions about the future of humanity, and in that sense, there is no point banging on about stuff on Facebook or Twitter (or WordPress!). But there’s also a part of me that would not want to loose the ‘connection’ to people that social media has given me. Perhaps, these electronic friends are surrogate friends and maybe, in an appropriate community, I would be awash with real friends, negating the need for electronic friends. Maybe, but when you get to know people, and like people, real or otherwise, it’s hard to give them up isn’t it?
I’ve also written a little more about Mark Boyle in this blog.