23 July 2014 - clay

Curators of our own pride

Facebook-logo-PSD

I’m using Facebook as the primary example here, but feel free to insert any other social media site you want in its place. 

I love Facebook.

It helps me to keep up with some of my friends who live great distances from me. It allows me to learn just a bit more about those who are near and dear to my heart. It allows me to post a link back to this page so that I have actual readers instead of just shouting into the ether.11. Because let’s be honest, that’s how most of you came to find this place, right? Through Facebook, I can find out about events in my friends’ lives and offer congratulations or condolences.

Facebook is one of the first things I read in the morning and one of the last before I finally give up for the night. It’s a wonderful tool, a window to the greatest things in the world.

I hate Facebook.

I hate the way it makes me feel when I see pictures of a party that I wasn’t invited to. I hate how people keep selling stuff all the time and my news feed turns into a churning pool of advertisements for weight loss and home decorations.22. Secretly, I think there is one company out there that makes all this crap and just sells it under different names. I can’t stand people who are negative about their life all the time, as if nothing ever goes right. I can’t stand the people who are positive about their life all the time, as if nothing ever goes wrong. I hate it when friends post pictures of the theme parks they are at when I can’t go there.33. OK, this one is really true. It’s a side effect of having lived in Orlando.

Facebook is one of the largest cesspools of humanity in the world. People divorce because of affairs that start on Facebook. People commit suicide because of being bullied on Facebook.

Facebook is a window into the tortured soul of humanity, and folks, it isn’t pretty.

OK, so I might have used a bit of hyperbole there. All except the last sentence. Facebook is a window into the soul of humanity. The unfortunate fact is that it’s usually a rose-colored window. Things are worse (and better) than we really think.

17 “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.

2 Corinthians 10:17-18

Facebook is a museum to ourselves. We curate the things we want others to see. We pick and choose the pictures and the status updates that will make us look better, sound funnier, and be more exciting than the rest of our friends. And if that isn’t enough, we curate the things we want to see as well. If someone upsets us, we hide them from out timeline. It would be rude to unfriend them, so we make our silent protest and shut them out.

Facebook is like the town crier, only with a shriller voice. Instead of ringing a bell, we hear a notification beep, announcing a witty comment, a like of something we have written, or a new friend. We become like Pavlov’s dogs, conditioned to wait for that next beep in order to fill up the hole inside. We only want to put our best out there so that we receive more and more likes and comments, and soon our entire world is wrapped up in a web site.

We put so much stock into what happens in a piece of software sitting in a server farm somewhere that we forget about real lives and real people. If our only interactions are online, then we’ve lost the ability to touch, smell, and breathe life with other people. If we are too busy crowing about our own accomplishments, we aren’t listening to the cries of those around us.

Look, there are positive things to Facebook. The things I named at the very top are reasons that I won’t finally delete my account. I have friends from Alaska to Honduras, from Brazil to Australia, and in most of the United States. Some of them I would hate to lose contact with and Facebook facilitates that communication in a great way. I believe that one of the worst things we can do is to have local friends on Facebook. Instead we should be having meals with them, going to parks, and just generally spending life together. Our primary communication with someone five miles down the road shouldn’t be through a web site.

What do we do then? We stop putting ourselves first. We throw our pride away and live, online and offline, as humanity was intended to. In community with others. We stop looking at Facebook as a required utility and begin to see it only as a convenient way to communicate long distances or to groups.

We pull the plug every once in a while and make some memories worth keeping. And we don’t post the pictures to Facebook.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. 1. Because let’s be honest, that’s how most of you came to find this place, right?
2. 2. Secretly, I think there is one company out there that makes all this crap and just sells it under different names.
3. 3. OK, this one is really true. It’s a side effect of having lived in Orlando.

Culture

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