Facebook makes me unhappy.
Let me explain that. In the last few months, I realized that the time I spend on the internet is split into two different categories. The first is social networking like Facebook & Twitter, random entertainment sites, and things of that nature. The second area is blogs, Flickr, educational sources, and the news.
It is the first area that really gets me, that makes me angry. I do not feel good when I am spending time on sites in the first category. Every day I feel more inclined to disengage.
Now, I’ve been bumming around the internet since I got my first AOL screen name in 1997 or so. I’m not against the internet, it is marvelous.
However, there is a subtle drag on my spirit when I read the Facebook news feed. As a friend put it today, “I just want to live in the moment!” I am living other people’s moments, over and over, in a stream of information that just doesn’t stop. I don’t have my own stories anymore, and the stories that I DO have are uninteresting, banal, and incredibly lame. I feel this insatiable need to know, but I don’t really need to know!
The second category makes me happy. I like the creative side, I love the tools and education I come across on the internet. There are so many positive things that have come about because of the development of the web.
A mechanism of world inter-communication will be devised, embracing the whole planet, freed from national hindrances and restrictions, and functioning with marvellous swiftness and perfect regularity.
(Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, 1938)
The internet is a tool, a piece of human creativity and knowledge, but it is becoming life for some. We reference the collective as if it is alive, as if we are somehow obligated to keep feeding this machine simply because it exists.
I highly recommend Jaron Lanier’s You Are Not A Gadget, it is a fascinating read and a wonderful encouragement to think about the history and modern-day trends of the Internet.
“[You are Not a Gadget] delivers a powerful reminder of the limits of the Web’s capacity to meet our needs-and its power to shape us to its will . . .” -Matthew Battles, The Barnes & Noble Review
I still have not figured out where my frustration is taking me. I have friends who limit or delete their Facebook profiles, who refuse to even get an account. I am stuck, in a way. I use FB to inform, advertise, keep in touch with friends, and keep track of events. Twitter has enabled me to communicate with friends that I wouldn’t normally have time to contact. I am so entangled that deleting profiles is almost unthinkable. Now I must take steps each day to reduce consumption, to slowly wean myself off the flow, and to live my life away from a computer as much as possible.
Stories are not created by sitting by myself in front of screen. Real thought and contemplation does not happen in status updates and fleeting moments.
I am utterly overwhelmed and consumed by information.
Quite frankly, I’m exhausted.