MARFA, Tex. — Not long after Katherine Losse left her Silicon Valley career and moved to this West Texas town for its artsy vibe and crisp desert air, she decided to make friends the old-fashioned way, in person. So she went to her Facebook page and, with a series of keystrokes, shut it off.
The move carried extra import because Losse had been the social network’s 51st employee and rose to become founder Mark Zuckerberg’s personal ghostwriter. But Losse gradually soured on the revolution in human relations she witnessed from within.
The explosion of social media, she believed, left hundreds of millions of users with connections that were more plentiful but also narrower and less satisfying, with intimacy losing out to efficiency. It was time, Losse thought, for people to renegotiate their relationships with technology.
“It’s okay to feel weird about this because I feel weird about this, and I was in the center of it,” said Losse, 36, who has long, dark hair and sky-blue eyes. “We all know there is an anxiety, there’s an unease, there’s a worry that our lives are changing.”
Her response was to quit her job — something made easier by the vested stock she cashed in — and to embrace the ancient toil of writing something in her own words, at book length, about her experiences and the philosophical questions they inspired.
I really hope you’ll read the whole thing. It raises familiar, but still provocative, questions about the way we use technology. This really hit home:
Many here have mixed feelings about the transformation, even as they accept that rising technology has been crucial to Marfa’s growing economic health. “Most of the people who live here have very complicated relationships with all forms of media,” said Tim Johnson, 34, an artist who moved to Marfa in 2006 and now owns the bookstore here.
Yeah, I would say that’s me too. I find that I’m fairly exhausted these days, and am feeling increasingly reclusive. Someone pointed out to me the other day:
Think of all the things that have happened to you in the past two and a half years. You moved your family from Dallas to Philly. Your sister got cancer. The magazine you were hired to develop and edit was abruptly shut down after three weeks. You were not allowed write for a year. You changed jobs. Your sister died. You moved your family to Louisiana. You wrote a book in six months. No wonder you are so tired and sick.
Yeah, that makes sense to me. I wish I could just unplug and be still for a while. But even though I live in a town the size of Marfa, a great place just to chill out and replenish, there’s the Internet. I make my living from it. And I really don’t want to unplug from it. It makes no demands on me, not really, other than reading the occasional comment from jackasses, some of which I post, others I send to the spam bucket. Yet the whole thing feels like a massive suck of emotional energy. You know? I mean, look, it’s after midnight, and I am completely worn out … but here I am, online. As ever.