I thought my previous blogging absence was long, but two and a half years–ridiculous. Obviously, no new book out in that time. (See future posts.) It’s not that I haven’t had anything to say in that period of time–God knows! Most likely, Facebook has taken over as the forum for this lazy blogger’s opinions and publicizable life events. As I’ve posted, the opportunity to get away from Facebook, an opportunity readily available in Beijing, is both the good news and the bad. Why do I say this?

For one thing, Facebook can occupy a lot of time and function as a major distraction and procrastinating factor for writing and other activities. Second, it’s begun to creep me out when I run into or hear from people who know so much about my life from FB posts. Some are what I call “Facebook voyeurs” who never post themselves but only observe the posts of others. Still others have expressed anger that we have visited their cities and not seen them, unmindful of the fact that Facebook friendship is not necessarily anything like the real thing. Which leads to the question: can FB damage friendships and/or elicit and reveal latent damage?  A recent exchange with a longtime–real (we thought), not just Facebook–friend aired his disapproval of my kids’ Beijing residence for environmental reasons. When Eli and I cut it off as politely as we could, he defriended us.  Should we have just ignored the comments? Was the exchange just an excuse to end a relationship that, unbeknownst to us, was already frayed? And, finally, on a global scale, Facebook has earned a bad rap as the enabler of the Russian interference with Election 2016.

In China Facebook, most major US media, and everything Google are blocked on the average internet server. Many foreigners and Chinese have VPN’s (Virtual Personal Networks) that allow them to leap the Great (Fire) Wall and access forbidden sites and information. Hotels don’t, but my son does, at home, so we can catch up. It’s ironic that his job with the New York Times encompasses editing the Times Chinese website. Obviously, enough Chinese access it to make it worthwhile to sustain. 

While a break from Facebook and other real news from around the around is welcome sometimes, an official policy of NO ACCESS is a whole other unacceptable story.

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