Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Why I Mostly Like Facebook

It's very trendy, especially amongst the youngsters, to desdain Facebook.  I get it.  Just like anything else it's bad if you overindulge in it.  Back in the day, we got addicted to normal things like cocaine, heroin, PCP, alcohol and sex.  Nowadays, kids get addicted to electronic devices and get so strung out they can't stop looking at them even if it means forsaking important things, like learning math or how to read.  Sometimes, they can't put social media down when their very lives depend on it.  The other day I made a perfectly legal and safe left turn and some I-phone entranced chicky stepped right off the curb against the light.  I nearly killed her.

Some people might argue that, well, "it's better than being addicted to heroin."  Is it really?  If that girl had been on herion I don't think she would have stepped off the curb in front of anyone's car, let alone mine.  I don't think she would have stepped anywhere except perhaps in the pool of her own vomit when she finally came off the nod.

The point is-- God, it's so unprofessional and tacky when a writer has to say "the point is," having been so caught up in her own clever narrative she forgot what she was talking about-- that just because overuse of social media is most certainly soul-destroying and as destructive as any other addiction, casual use fills some needs that don't otherwise get filled these days.

Gone are tight communities in which we're nurtured by regular and habitual social contacts.  In a way, this is good-- no one gossiping about the number of empty wine bottles in your garbage can every week, except in my case in which it can hardly be missed-- or about how shabby and greying the underpants hanging on your clothesline are.  But in another way it is very bad.  Humans, like all primates are extremely social creatures whether they like to admit it or not, and we need affirmation that we're not all alone.

I don't imaging this affirmation is hard to come by if you're Jane or Joe Regular.  If your sense of wonder is limited to where you last left your cigarettes, what time Fox News comes on TV, or whose going to play in the Superbowl, There are probably millions of like-mindeds you can hob nob with each and every day, feeling entirely socially and spiritually fulfilled.  But if you're not this kind of person, it's easy to feel a little marginalized in this world.

With Facebook, I occasionally have conversations with people who think in ways similar to mine.  Sometimes, rarely, but with a few individuals, I can have intelligent conversations. Yeah, yeah, the "echo chamber" thing is there.  But I'm 59 years old now and while there was a time in my twenties, maybe even into my thirties that I genuinely entertained conversations with people who think trickle down economics is a good idea, that Ayn Rand was a good writer, or that if I don't accept Jesus as my own personal saviour then I'm going to burn in Hell forever, I don't anymore.  Most of my friends are kind, loving, somewhat thoughtful people with values if not exactly like mine, similar.  I've arranged my cyber world in the same way I've arranged my regular world, only with fewer dogs.  The friends I have on Facebook are mostly like the friends I have or would in real life.  It's just that time and distance precludes us from seeing each other as often as we'd like to.

Some people have zillions of Facebook friends.  But if you let that many people into your world for the sake of accruing numbers, then ultimately you're faced with two choices.  You either never say anything of substance or consequence, in which case you're down to posting pictures of your meals and kittens,or you wind up with a bunch of bothersome weirdos you'll eventually have to "unfriend." The whole "I hate Facebook" thing, while legitimately earned-- people in cyberspace can become way more creepy than they can in real life-- comes from relying on it too much.

And then stepping in a pool of your own vomit when you finally get off the couch.

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