Not real in the real world…
Several years ago, during a dinner discussion that involved the topic of social media, a friend suggested to me that,
“Facebook isn’t the real world”.
Ironically, it was Facebook that had reconnected she and I, and placed us at dinner that evening – after a decade of not seeing one another. She’s no longer living, though her Facebook page is still quite active. People post to her memory regularly as though she is actually seeing those posts. Perhaps she is. Even if not, maybe this is a modern, more interactive twist on laying flowers at the graveside.
Several years ago when I realized Facebook had become too large a distraction for my level of discipline, I told another friend I was going to delete my Facebook account. I had every intention of doing it that night. When I explained this to her, she responded with,
“Please don’t! You spice up my feed”.
My ego got the better of me, and that lone comment kept me from deleting my account. I look back at that decision with regret, and as a pivotal point in my recent life.
That friend and I bantered quite a bit on Facebook early on, but we eventually went our separate ways, and are no longer in communication with one another. And here I am three years later having invested far too much time into something with far too little return.
It’s all about Roy…
Rather than focus on editing my book, walking my dog, reading, or asking my elderly neighbor to sit by my fire pit and chat, I spend countless hours with my eyes fixed to a 17” window to the world, all for the instant gratification of a like, a comment, or the mindless amusement of a cat playing a xylophone.
When I ask myself why I post things on Facebook, why I comment, or which friend’s posts I choose to comment on, the only honest answer I can give must be reduced to some combination of the following:
– To impress others
– To seek the respect of others
– To be perceived as knowledgeable or intelligent relative to a subject
– To please others
– To experience instant gratification during an otherwise tedious moment in my life
– To demonstrate my senses of humor
– To share something I feel others might enjoy, or benefit from
There are probably a few more reasons which branch off of these, but I believe these to be primary. That last one though, to share something I feel others might enjoy, or benefit from, is the only reason that has legitimized Facebook for me.
Friends with benefits…
There are positive reasons to use Facebook. Among them are connecting with likeminded people I would not otherwise have access to at a given moment. I love that I can have a conversation with friends around the world about music, philosophy, or whether or not there is such a thing as clutch hitting in professional baseball. Facebook, in a sense, is a global campfire.
It’s hard though, to distill the good conversations, from the bad. That is where I struggle the most – in facing the relentless political and religious thrusting of opinions and positions at my psyche which is not looking for such information. I have come to despise those moments for their ability to ruin other moments. I tend to increasingly begrudge those who force that negativity upon me. Even the topic of fitness, which is both my passion, and my livelihood, has been bastardized and abused by social media to the point where I have come to hate the ideal of fitness.
Because of this I recently deactivated my Facebook page, with one possible outcome being that I would never return to it.
When I deactivate my account, roughly 20 people out of the 300 or so friends I have reached out to me by email or by text to find out if I had unfriended them. It had not occurred to them that maybe I was taking a break, or perhaps unfriending myself from a time bandit with a greater downside than upside. One at a time, I assured those who were truly concerned that no unfriending was done in the course of my absence. I simply needed a break.
I’m single, I live alone, and I don’t own a television. Facebook had become a large part of my social and entertainment life. Feeling like I was missing something, I thought about bringing Facebook back, but I vowed to disconnect for at least one month. If you are reading this by way of Facebook, then you know I lasted exactly 3 weeks. I’m good with that.
What I missed most…
Like any form of entertainment or any tool, what one gets out of something is relative to what one puts into it. I have always struggled with the blurry lines in life. I believe the medical term for that is, being Jewish.
Sunday mornings. Waking up with hot coffee under the cool pacific marine layer. Sitting on my back porch with my laptop on my lap top, and my dog at my feet. With the slight electric sound of Cowboy Junkies framing the mood, and with my view to the creek and the egrets in the immediate foreground, I get to share that very scene, some level of fun, and some amusement with 300 or people, many whom I have come to truly appreciate.
Those Sunday mornings are among the best, most calm moments of my week. I look forward to them. I enjoy trading jokes with my brother, and our friends in the Midwest. I may get to discover some new music. I see some interesting photographs which might make me smile, or fill me with awe. For those reasons, and a few others, I won’t turn my back on Facebook – yet. I will though, use it less, and manipulate out of the picture, anyone willing to spew hatred as a means of pleasuring their own narrow mind. Be well… rc
Please check back in 2 weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from David Lindley, and GE Smith. Enjoy…