Monday, January 8, 2018

My Love/Hate Relationship with FaceBook

Some times I love FaceBook. Some times I hate it. I love it when I can share a story and show pictures of something cool in my life. I hate it when I feel like I have to share something when I haven't done anything worth sharing. I love seeing and hearing about the important things in the lives of my FB friends, but I hate that my time is too often wasted with compulsive clutter. I love it when I can freely indulge in creative word play with a response to a post. I hate it when I am otherwise busy with my own life and yet feel compelled to take time away from living to look at what everybody else is doing. I love the attention of others, but feel like I am betraying my own humility by always making it about me, me, me.

The people that surround me are the most important part of my life. I meet a lot of interesting people I would like to keep in touch with and do things with; FB is a great tool for doing that, so I cannot abandon it for very long. Still, there are times when I avoid it completely. Then I miss it. It is said that everybody lies about how much fun they are having, about the things they are doing, about the places they've been. Not everybody certainly, but we all do exaggerate some of the time; we're human after all.

You've got all these friends and their lives seem to be so exciting and full every day. Then you look at your own... eh, and what are you? You're in your pajamas reading about everyone else's life. So you make up something and post because you feel like an insecure and inferior wannabe. You keep looking back at FB throughout the day - five, ten, twenty, a hundred times - to see if you have followers, to see who “likes” you. The more likes, the better you feel. Not what you had expected, you get depressed because you're not as cool or popular as you would like to be. So you post more!

Not everyone, but a lot of people are pumping up their lives on FB, a retreat from the real world. Who really has this morning-to-night lifestyle of coolness? Who doesn't want to lead an enviable life? Everybody wants to have that life where you get to do what you want to do, when you want to do it, where money isn't an obstacle, where everybody loves you and you get a lot of attention. (Yeah, that's me!) On social media, there are no rules that say you can't be that person. So an endless loop is created out of this vulnerability in human psychology. Make a post, get a squirt of dopamine; make another post and keep the dopamine drip coming. Like me. Like my photos. Yeah, but is that all there is? For an increasing number of people the answer is becoming “yes”.

When you are spending a lot of time giving attention to and responding to the lives of others, focused on the computer screen or smart phone, you are doing so at the sacrifice of your own life. When your life falls short of those you compare it to, what is lost? Spending too much time sitting around thinking about how you would like to do what other people are doing, thinking about how you would like to be like them is psychologically unhealthy. This is the trap, especially for young children, the trap of substituting what is very often not real for experiencing a productive life yourself.

So what to do, what to do? Oy vey!!! Maybe I'll post this on FaceBook and see what everyone else thinks. Maybe my “friends” will like it. Maybe I'll get some smiley face emojis. I'm already feeling better. Think I'll go out for a nice long run first, though!!!!!!!!

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