Monday, December 23rd 2013, 0028h.
Facebook, dear babies and gentleflock, is a drug. And as with any drug, it leaves you craving for more. Every time you see a little thumbs-up ‘like’ icon, endorphins are secreted within your dainty little brain because you feel acknowledged and accepted – even perhaps loved. It’s merely a game of popularity that you are playing with yourself; thriving on the attention of others and their “approval” of you. When you are spending too much time consistently tapping into the illusory world of ostensibly loving, popular acceptance and affirmation that is Facebook, you likewise experience a sort of mild depression and peer-related angst when you share something and hardly anyone (or no one) likes it or comments on it.
It’s a ridiculous waste of time and emotions, because the truth is that most people generally don’t care about what you think or what you have to say. They are just scrolling Facebook (probably like you) looking for little easily-digestible chunks of melodramatic, analgesic gossip and fables, like a young child sitting with eyes glued to a television and watching cartoons; the longer the child sits there in that drug-like state of mind constantly needing more entertainment, the more difficult and emotionally painful it will be for the child to be removed from that environment. Essentially, it’s a matter of greed: needing more and more; wanting, wanting, wanting; me, me, mine, me, and mine.
What I’m saying is not that Facebook is evil or a completely selfish and greedy use of your time, but that it is a place/thing where overuse leads to an addictive approbation of self-grandeur, not to mention that probably only one out of a million things that occur on Facebook lacks the label of “a completely unproductive waste of your time.”
As we continually connect to more and more people, we inversely disconnect from our real relationships, and they grow thusly shallow. Aristotle said, “A friend to all is a friend to none.” Now, I doubt he was thinking of Facebook when he said that, but there are various ways you can interpret his maxim. The more time you spend trying to be a friend to everyone, the less time you are actually giving each person; so the term “friend” gradually becomes more of an “acquaintance.” A true and deep friendship takes time (and I’d wager typically physical presence): you create memories and inside jokes and memories of inside jokes and inside jokes of memories; you talk in real-time about anything and everything; you laugh together; you eat together; you listen to music together; you go places and have new experiences together; you overcome challenges and grow together. In all, you (hopefully) learn to love life more from the unique experiences you share.
I have increasingly cut back on usage of Facebook, and I’ve personally discontinued use of Twitter and Instagram, as I find them of no substantial value to my life in any way whatsoever. I won’t even get started on talking about all the other forms of social media.
A large part of the problem - sadly, a very prevalent one - is that all of these and more are mobile-compatible, so we exchange our short and precious time with one another by trying to connect to some other person who we (if we were actually with them) would likewise exchange our time in their presence to attempt connecting to yet another person. And the cycle spirals onward – or perhaps inward(?)
If you are with people (especially if you are with people who you choose and mean to be with), and if your phone is too much of a temptation for you to simply ignore, then for humanity’s sake; turn your damn phone off! No one wants to be with someone who is always using their phone and ignoring the conversations at hand. What happens is that you aren’t fully engaged with the other person/people because you’re distracted by your phone, so eventually they will grow tired and/or resentful or whatever else of you caring more about your little handheld pile of configured plastic and hardware than them. The more that happens, the less they will actually want to be with you; but the thing is that you aren’t trying to truly engage with them or anyone, so you will always have the desire to spend time with them or whomever; that desire, however, will never be satisfied unless you actually do what we as humans innately desire to do: be with other humans.
At first, it will probably be much more difficult than you initially suspect (as I said, it’s a drug; and it’s more than likely a habit, whether you realize it or not), but you may well be surprised and even amazed by how replete life is with resplendent beauty and joy. Challenge yourself to experience more of what and who is actually around you; challenge yourself to be a better friend.
Life is beautiful. Go live it.