Saturday, March 2, 2013

A Society of Social Network Addicts

Warning: explicit adult language is present.

Facebook, what a pill!

Having backed away from Facebook after too many negative interactions, I've noticed a big change in my sense of satisfaction (or lack thereof) in socializing. Considering the fact I don't actively participate in any other social networks, my involvement with others has dropped substantially. And that's a bad thing because it means I have an out-of-balance socialization habit which counts on virtual interactions too much.

I work remotely from home mostly because I am a contractor so face time with people at work is limited. And school isn't much different. The students in my class never quite bonded together and there is little if any talk at times. Most of the time it is silent when we are working on the projects.

So, with neither work nor school providing any solid connections, it leaves me feeling empty and frustrated. That realization was hammered home by the fact that Facebook was evidently too much of a crutch substituting for real interactions.

Even though things are lonely, I believe it is a good thing I backed away from Facebook. Like the Wizard in Oz, Facebook provides a faux social life that doesn't allow us to do what it is we were born to do, mingle with others while riding the roller coaster of life. Facebook presents us with an alternative. Is it the red pill or the blue pill?

To some extent, it's not much different than Twitter where people are so busy getting their twee on (not squee, I hate that vile word) that they only superficially interact with others and sometimes ask you to follow them on Facebook: "Thanks for following me, please do the same for my Facebook account at addicted-to-squee." Really? Tweeting to people to ask them to follow on Facebook? Now isn't that ironic.

Facebook is no different. Most people zip in and out, commenting enough to make their presence seen. But most of them don't have a real part in my life. When I feel crappy, they only know if I make a post about it. When I'm pumped up and in the creator-mode, same thing. None of them have to listen to my single-minded talks where they have to say, "Hey, cool it! Let's go out and get some barbecue because you, my friend, need a break." And they will not get to see the risque side of me when I'm about ready to crawl out of my car or truck because of a girl I see. Wait, that might be a good thing to not see. Well, you get the idea. Real life is a mixed bag of good, bad and indifferent and sites like Facebook hide it because we present one-sided facades typically.

The final straw that set me off on my tirade against Facebook was when someone was commenting on a cross-post of an article from this blog where they acknowledged they hadn't read the actual blog post itself. My Facebook timeline was serving merely as a tool for them to talk with their other friends. Not that it's a bad thing for them to talk with their friends but it's sort of irritating to be minimized when they imply they not only haven't read the blog but only took time to read things that interested them. I'm going to be extremely crude here and say, what the fuck? Insult maximum! Enough is enough. Forget Facebook and forget acquaintance like that. Anyone who has taken the time to truly get to know me (and a few people have) well, they will recognize what is embedded in the prior sentence.

Essentially, I think Facebook is an addiction which stops people from interacting in real scenarios. We become dependent upon Facebook to find out what our family, friends and acquaintances are doing. But isn't that a poor substitute for face to face interaction for those who are local? I realize long distance friends or family can't go out for barbecue at that really cool restaurant you just found but there's always Skype or other video services where you can talk with them directly. Of course you can't have multiple people interacting easily with Skype but it is more personal and at least you can talk about that night out eating barbecue.

Seems like there is a strong trending for dissatisfaction with the plastic friendship Facebook promotes. An article over at Online Courses about Facebook Fatigue has some graphs showing how at least half of the Facebook network is or has taken a break from the fixer. I'm hoping to find some of those people and connect with them... through other means. Online interactions are important, don't get me wrong. It's a quick, easy way to send an update to someone but it shouldn't be the predominant form of communication. We have hands, feet, faces and especially eyes for communication. Facebook minimizes this. I can't see your eyes to see what it is you mean when you write something. Was it meant to be funny? Was it meant to be serious? What was is meant to be? But if I interact with you face to face half the time, then I can at least ask directly.

I might be socially starved for interaction right now, but I'd rather do that than give in and surf Facebook. This will force me to make time to go out into society and find a way to fulfill my need to do things with others. Excluding the desire for intimacy with a female (I am a guy after all), the primary need I have is to find others who are fired up about the same things I am. Time to look for a meetup where people prepare art for exhibits. Real interactions, real people, real frustrations, real politics and real life, that's what I crave. Not some fake Ken and Barbie fantasy Facebook world where people simply go, "Meh, I don't really care about you. Where's my next Facebook fix?"

While some may take objection to things I've said, including the use of strong language, this is life. I swear like a pirate at times so this is part of who I am. I'm not going to tone myself down to create a fake western front facade. I'm primitive at times. I chase women, I swear, I over-indulge in certain things (which should be easy enough to pick up on from what I talk about). This is who I am and you'll never find out who the real me nor will I find out who "you" are if we both live on Facebook. Get with it and get real. Live life not the Ken and Barbie Facebook facade where we are asked to swallow the blue pill. Ever notice how Twitter uses blue? Think about it. As for me, give me that crappy red pill. I want gritty reality.