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The Neverland of Facebook

As one of my Facebook contacts pointed out last night, her wall “is often filled with substantial posts, or the opposite, or something in between”. You find all sorts of things on Facebook, that’s a truth I can’t refute.

I had commented quite categorically that “one should not search for substance on Facebook”. In my experience, substantial information is for the most posted as a link on Facebook. So FB becomes a means of distribution, not the source of substance itself.

In general terms, I find the private use of FB mainly turns the platform into a Neverland; a symbol for childhood (or childlessness), immortality and escapism. I would say that the instant recognition of the likes appeals to the child within us, that we seek to immortalize ourselves through the documentation of happy moments or deep thoughts, and that we try to escape reality, boredom or our daily chores by constantly checking what new status updates have come up on our wall.

We post everything on Facebook, what we are proud of, what makes us happy, sad, angry, etc. For the most, we fail to realize that our posts are like a cry into the wind that has very limited relevance to anyone but ourselves. Even when realizing this, we post anyway, because as the ad goes, “we’re worth it”.

Among others, Facebook is the land of make-believe, of self-promotion and self-staging. Danish journalist Heidi Vesterberg has written a good reflection about self-staging on FB. Here is Heidi’s post in Danish

She argues that we have always tried to present our better side, like we do on FB today. And that we still have the ability to see through the falseness of it. I agree that it’s human to present our better side in a social context, but I would argue that the reach of social media is unprecedented and actually changes our social behavior. So that the nature of our interactions, our conversations, our opinions are affected by the media we use. And thereby also their content and substance. We’re all busy checking what we missed out on in the last five minutes. Mass consumerism has taken over our personal relations too.

Don’t get me wrong; I like Facebook as much as I dislike it. It is a useful tool, and not even the reprehensible fact that Facebook experiments with its users without their knowledge or consent has stopped me from having an active profile.

But I do resent the effect that FB has on me. I resent using too much time on irrelevant information from people that I seldomly see or that I see everyday, quick fix articles of the type: “5 reasons why you should quit doing this or that”, and I resent that I keep coming back for more.

So whenever I feel that I’ve had enough of it, I take a break, and deactivate my profile for a while. I can then put my time to better use on other media which I feel is more agreeable. And then there is “downtime”. Time without internet connection. Scary. Might have to do that more?

Do you feel you have sufficient “downtime” away from social media? Do you also have mixed feelings regarding FB or other social media platforms?

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2 comments

  1. Hi Ana🙂

    I love the drawing you included in the post! The thoughts in the post are interesting. I am not on Facebook. I made an account to go with the blog site because my sister told me I should and then use it to put up links to the posts. I haven’t made it to that point of the to-do list yet. I only use my Twitter account to announce the bog posts. I use my Twitter feed as a news reader and to let me know when blogs I read have new posts.

    I have mixed thoughts about the Internet. For me, it has been mainly beneficial. I used to live in a small town in the middle of corn fields. Now, I live in a larger metro area. It is still the case, though, that I find all kinds of information on the Internet that I wouldn’t be able to find locally. I get to read and “talk” to interesting and kind people I wouldn’t otherwise meet. I do ration my time online. I can’t, for example, be connected to the news all day long. I still believe that there are more good things than bad things that go on each day. The news, though, is filled with the bad. If I spend too much time reading it, then I get depressed. I feel like there are things I need to do as well as want to do before my life is over. I am older. Time is of crucial importance. I have a certain amount of time I spend online each day and then that’s it.

    I think it is generally true that we like to present our best selves to the public. It is like not wearing pajamas in public or not going outside without brushing one’s hair.🙂 I do sometimes see people in what look like pajamas at the grocery store and often see people in pajamas walking their dogs around the apartments. I couldn’t do it, though. I still have my Mom’s voice in my head when it comes to those things🙂 It is an interesting question whether the desire to put one’s best self out on social media changes people. I doubt I will have much of an online presence other than the blog. The last twenty years of my life have been hard going. The upside is that they helped me figure out how to be happy. And it is that happiness that I wish to share on the blog plus a little bit of philosophy mixed in. I am the same person when I write and “talk” to people there as I am in person. In my younger years, I was both quiet and painfully shy. I grew out of the shyness somewhere along the way. I am still relatively quiet. I do have thoughts I want to share and I have found that people are more likely to listen if I approach them indirectly. Illustrate rather than explain. I didn’t realize there were blogs until 2009. I was busy with other things🙂 And it took another few years before the light dawned that I could start one of my own. And then another couple of years before I summoned the courage and time to start it.

    Speaking of blog posts. I have one to write today about owls🙂 It seems that owl I saw back in the winter was one of a family of owls living in the trees next to these apartments. I bothered them back in May by following them around with the camera trying to take their pictures. They have a big advantage over me because they can fly away which they kept doing. I managed to take a few photos of them even so. Good luck with your week! Coming back from vacation can sometimes be a let down🙂
    Take care.
    Sarah

    1. Hey Sarah, thanks for your comment. I agree with you that the internet is mainly beneficial and gives us many opportunities to learn, share and reach out to people that we would otherwise never get to meet🙂 I like what you say about dosing your time online. I wish I did that more. I also sense that you write from a place of peace and beauty. I look forward to your owl post!

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