I remember that I opened a Facebook account right before going to college about 8 years ago. Back then, you needed to have a college email or be “accepted” into your network, and it was just expanding to networks of cities and maybe even states. Who knows… One thing I do know. The Facebook craze has exploded in our faces in the last few years, and what used to be an exclusively elite networking computer program seems to have become the one common factor uniting the globe. From people fighting against repressive governments in Egypt, to a young kids in the rural United States, from your grandmother’s best friend, to your boss.
And now everybody is on everybody’s face.
Facebook is a ton of fun. Don’t you think?
You look through pictures of your cousin’s party and reminisce on how much fun it was, your friend posts a picture of you two when you were in diapers and the sweet nostalgia of your childhood kicks in, people share music that makes you dance, poetry that makes you cry, the hysterical “what does the fox say?” video that you cannot stop watching… It all seems fantastic. You reconnect with friends that you have lost touch with because of the years gone by, and keep the bonds strong with the people you do not get to talk to because they live in far away places. Facebook, as people say, has connected our world like never before, it has brought people together, it has created communities and it has even been a major tool in leading revolutions in countries were repressive governments have tried to silence the people. Facebook is more than a computer program… its a lifestyle that makes the world go ’round.
Ok puppies, sunshine and rainbows. Let’s burst the bubble now….
In my sincere opinion, Facebook also sucks.
Facebook is a new form of Xanax… It is the opium of the people. It has become this weird spin-off of reality TV, where you can now become part of the show, and expose your life to whoever you grant access to all across the world (in the meanwhile, some big guys are making bank from your online activity). You and your “friends” get to participate in this weird contest, where you get to showcase your life for the world to see.
Who has the pretties profile picture, you may ask yourself? So you change your picture every other week in order to keep up with your most up-to-date self. You have to perfectly fill out the About me, Quotes, Favorite Books/Movies/Music in order to portray the most appropriate “you”. Which are you going for? The I don’t-care-what-you-think-because-I-am-amazing-but-I-still-accept-you-as-a-friend-in-order-to-get-to-4,500-friendship-requests? Or the, I-don’t-give-a-crap-what-you-think, I-like-PBR-and-awkward-mustaches-and-pictures-of-odd-objects-but-I-still-want-you-to-“like”-my-Hemingway-tribute-poem-and-if-you-don’t-you-are-not-a-hip-intellectual-and-therefore-I-will-delete-you-from-my-friends-request?
Maybe you are neither of the above…but you have a friend who might be. And you yourself might just have a little of the essence from these two characters. Which is? The need for illusions to feel accepted and part of this world.
Where did she go this summer!? And most importantly, who is that with his arm around her!?
No way…. Did you see what she posted? Ohhhh No she didn’t….
I cannot believe that they find it appropriate to share those things on the internet…
Did you hear she got engaged? Oh yes, I read it on Facebook!
Ugh she looks so gross in that picture, why would you even think about putting that up.
He posted a video praising Rush Limbaugh…can you believe he is so close minded?
Both you and I know that we have been guilty of such gallant comments about human interactions on the web, and we are all guilty of the same sin: getting sucked into the Facebook vortex.
And the vortex sucks for a few reasons….
1. Facebook takes away the most valuable thing to many in our world…TIME. How many hours a day, a week, a month do we spend glued to the computer (or the phone) scrolling down the news feed, liking a post, and swooshing through the hundreds of thousands of pictures on yours and your friends profiles. Many people would agree that too many hours are spent on this computer program….way too many hours. Think about all the other things you could be doing instead. Cooking some good food, making yourself a dress, learning how to fix a car, spending time with grandma! You will already spend about 1.5 to 3 years sitting on the toilet in a lifetime…that’s enough sittin’ and shittin’ your time away, don’t you think?
2. Facebook is NOT REAL. Plain and simple. It is a tool that yes, is very useful in terms of quick and easy communication, yet it does not portray accurately, or for that fact, truthfully and honestly, a persons life. It builds “relationships” based on carefully chosen moments that you allow your friends to see. You choose the person that you want to portray to be, in all your glamour (or not glamour if you are the hiking, happy go lucky, granola folk out there, yet still you portray a “self”) Yes, it is based on reality, but how many of those friendships do you feel are honestly real? How many of those moments where people connect to your happiness, and your road trips, parties, vacations, graduations, are truthful when the way we connect is by “liking a post” or commenting on how much fun it seemed to be. What would your relationship with them if they were physically close to you? And even more, when they are physically close to you, how REAL are you without the use of this tool? I say that the people that matter are the ones you make an honest attempt to stay connected with. The people you call and have a conversation once in a while, the people you write letters to over the holidays, the people that you text once a month even to say “Hey I’m thinking of you!”. There are other tools to communicate in a more personal way to people who are far away from you. Tools that do not make you feel lonely…which brings me to my third point.
3. Facebook will only make you feel lonelier. Even if it seems like your friend’s list is growing, there have been recent studies out there (google them) that are starting to talk about the effects of social media, like Facebook, and how it actually makes people feel more lonely….and honestly, and you might agree with me, I don’t think we even need a study to prove that. How many times have you been scrolling down your news feed on you couch at home, wishing you were somewhere else, like your friends in the pictures. How many times have you changed your picture and felt so good every time someone liked it? …and how long did that feeling last? When scrolling through Facebook, have you ever felt jealous? Have you ever felt excluded? Annoyed? Have you ever felt truly connected with all of these friends on your list? Are they really your friends? Can you trust them with a secret, or confide in them your deepest sorrows, or just cry on their shoulder? How many are truly friends? How many are just acquaintances?
4. It blocks you from being in the present. How many times have you stopped enjoying a beautiful moment so you could snap a picture and post it on Facebook? Way too many times. Way too many times do we start recording instead of being present in the moment, and when the moment is over, we don’t even feel like we experienced it because we were too focused on archiving it for the world to see. How many times do you find yourself spending a day out with your friends, check your phone because you got a text, and when you look up to see, every single one of your friends is looking down to their little screens checking on their telephones too? Disconnected from the present. All the wise folk in the world, dead and alive, always tell us, in different ways, “live in the present”. They say this for a reason, and it is heartbreaking that we are slowly pulling away from those wise words. De-volving in a futuristic society of “likes” and “posts”.
So like always….”WHAT TO DO?”
Boycott Facebook! Easy….. Only a one-step program.
Now, delete your account.
Mushpa y Mensa, aka Cara Elaine and Maria Emilia, as individuals, have been Facebook free for a year now.
In my experience, I do not feel any more or less connected to the world around me, even though other people might miss my presence in the realm of the internet. I keep in touch with the people that matter the most to me, and the ones that truly care are the ones that make the effort to keep in touch through other means. I keep in touch with family near and as far as the equator using for example this really archaic tool called, “Email”. ; ) That’s an easy one. Skype and other video calling programs are useful too and I even use Whatsapp to text.
I am by no means removed from the world of social media and communication, and I still have many critiques for many of these communication devices. I do live a reality though, and removing myself from the one I saw as the most toxic to real human relationships was a good first step. If each of us slowly detaches from this monster of a vortex, then I think that we can focus not only on truthful and real relationships, but furthermore, on living these relationships in the present as well…and hey, you might even find yourself with time to knit your grandma a sweater! : )
The Mushpa y Mensa Reality
Mushpa y Mensa is a small crafty arts business. We are still little, yet we are blooming. We will become successful because we believe in our magic and our beauty.
Many times we have been tempted to open a Facebook account, or for that matter an Instagram account (which is owned by the same people and is basically FB without words). It seems to be the easiest way for people to connect with us, to “Find us on Facebook” and “Like” our page. Every successful business model you see out there has the same logo-icons at the bottom of their page…Facebook, Instagram, Twitter…and the same resounding message: With these tools, people will connect with you, and without these tools, your success is questionable.
We say **** that! We will not give in. We believe in what we believe, and sticking to it might make things challenging, it might make future projects difficult to work with, it might make us stretch our resources thin, BUT it will push us to be more creative in how we connect to people in this world. It will force us to truly connect to the people who enjoy supporting our work. It will make us create a beautiful website instead of a generic Facebook page. It will be jumping with our eyes closed and landing where we should land.
As the wise Mushpa said to me the other day….
“We Want You to Love Us, Not Like Us.”
And that, my friends, is the truth.
Until my next essay,