Unhappiness on the Internet
It stands to reason that Facebook has brought many joys to the life of those not still in high school. Yet in the adult population half of all marriages still end in divorce, and an eight of all these divorces have roots in Facebook. Whether it is just a scorned woman who simply decides enough is enough and scrolls to the “divorced” option, or an unflattering photograph of a husband behaving wildly was tagged unknowingly. We will never know the specifics of how Facebook falls down the grapevine on their divorce proceedings (it seems this should be the topic for further study) , but the simple fact is that this ever connecting social innovation has completely revolutionized information management through the networks we are a part of. The changes it has brought about in the way we communicate are a thing we could have only dreamed about just five years ago, and everybody claims these changes are bringing us closer together as a society – broadening our social networks and increasing our ties with our communities. Yet drama, a thing not only for high schoolers, seems to follow Facebook’s reach and extend into the lives of every user on it. God put us on this Earth with a plan, and whether that plan involves a perverse amount of interconnectedness with each other is beyond me. The only thing that is clear is this: for 800 generations of the human species 650 of them were spent without fire, only about 15 with electricity, 2 with the invention of the internet, and one with the facebook. We weren’t made to handle social groups large enough to connect North Carolina to Dubai, yet they exist. And they are flourishing, and until we are able to intellectually catch up with this technological advancement we will always be unhappy.
Quick question: have you ever seen a Chinese finger trap? Where you put your finger in and can’t get out without slowly and patiently touching your fingers together and apart? Facebook is kind of like that on a global scale. The tighter the networks get, the harder it is for any one of us to get away from it. A concept that, in itself, can get under the toughest of skin, yet when you add the intrusion of Facebook into everyday life gets a lot creepier. Rumor has it that Google holds all of your searches for seven years. That’s not even creepy compared to the fact that every single piece of information you have logged into your facebook profile is there for good. In cyberspace forever, and even after you delete it will still be accessible on the servers of Facebook for some time. I am not alone when I say that this angers me, and in all honesty, it really makes me scared to upload anything. However, what choice do we really have? Facebook has monopolized the social network industry. If you’re not on facebook what possible means of widespread communication (be it with peers, office workers, friends or family) do you really have? Snail mail isn’t a concept anymore, phone calls are soon becoming obsolete, and save face to face talking facebook is the easiest way to leave a message with someone and almost guarantees they will read it and respond in a reasonable manner. Throughout my entire existence (or the 10 or so years I’ve been aware of some of these issues) nobody has ever liked monopolies. Bell phone company sucked, Duke energy has power outages all the time and takes ages to get back running, there are around 5 or 6 major cell phone carriers in the United States and they all charge exurbanite rates for services that are essentially free. (Case in point: cell phone text messaging rates usually cost about $20 extra a month. Text messages actually piggyback on the signal your cell phone automatically sends to satellites, meaning that the phone company is charging about $20 a month per plan for an essentially free service.) We hate being duped, and we hate feeling that we have no other options. Facebook’s reign has pretty much created a fear culture that leaves us wondering what will happen next. Our discontent with their services is nothing personal, at its foundation it is merely the dislike for big government and corporate capitalism. Sorry you have to be the bad guy on this one Facebook.
Additionally, even if you wanted to do something about the injustice of Facebook nobody would have any idea how to put it in motion. You simply don’t have any realistic options. What would be your first attempt to resolve these grievances? Send Zuckerberg a friend request? An E-mail? Poke, snowball or mafia request? It simply isn’t feasible to do any of those things expecting an actual response that will solicit any sort of change. Another option you could have to engird change from the higher ups in Facebook would be to protest. But what would you do, switch to Myspace? Granted the popularity of
other social media sites like twitter is increasing, but save for Google, nothing comes close to the spheres of influence Facebook has. Moreover, Facebook’s recent acquisition of instagram for $1 billion makes a statement solidifying its place as a dot com supergiant. Like sleeping in on election day this fall will make absolutely no impact whether Obama returns for another term, your voice in the matters of Facebook’s corporate world make absolutely no difference.
It sucks to be pregnant, obviously. Also, babies are disgusting, especially babies who haven’t been born yet. For some reason mothers-to-be still think it is appropriate to blast pictures of their new family member all over social media sites. If gay marriage is strong enough to get ignorant knee jerk reactions and pull voters to the polling booths, I don’t feel so bad admitting that I would vote for whichever president could make posting pictures of any living being from conception to post 6 months of age. This might be Mitt’s only way to get ahead, so he should take this suggestion without a grain of salt. Baby, fetus, and ultrasound photos do have a part in my daily ritual of stroking my ego. I can scroll through status updates and humor myself by seeing what horrible lives other people have and why I am so much better than them. Conversely, it also shows me the areas of my life that are lacking substance. All those awkward, ugly, annoying band girls bloomed late after high school to become beautiful young women, the nerdy kids are graduating early from Berkley, and that burnout kid who did lots of acid and dropped out? Yeah, he’s a big time drug dealer now and just bought his first house. There’s no way to spin some of the crazy things you see on facebook and you are left to assume that your life just isn’t as great as you thought it was fifteen seconds ago. Facebook’s dual function of making you think you have both the best and worst life in the world creates dissonance within our conscious realities. Our social identity feels good because it could be worse, yet our personal identity suffers because we doubt that we have lived up to our full potential. The split in our ego leaves room only to feel disgust at the thing that brought about the schism. Facebook’s credibility as a source of happiness is further mauled as the pain of our own lives grows yet a little more visible.
The old joke has always been that the more friends you have on Facebook, the less you have in real life. While obviously not completely true the merits exist that those individuals who spend time sending and accepting friend requests to individuals they may or may not know are may only be doing so as a front to their impaired social status in their actual relationships. For fear of feeling as if they have walked on this earth for eighteen years without making a difference in the lives of even one individual. This fear we can dub status anxiety exists in all of us and can be seen in every area of our life, not just Facebook. Take for example, your disgust at the sight of weeds in your lawn. The reason you pluck the unsightly weed out of the ground is twofold, but the weights of these reasons are vastly unequal.
First and by far of lesser value, is the fact that you think the weed is an ugly sight on your property. The second reason will be that you do not want others to see the weed and judge you based off of this one blemish. They may label you untidy or lazy, even when you may not be. Your insecurity of this latter point is the main draw to having a perfectly manicured lawn; this status anxiety of how others view you controls your behavior more than your own view of yourself. Perhaps instead of attempting to impress others with a large number of facebook friends, you may want to go out of your way and do something nice for the friends you already have? It’d be a shame for me to actually challenge you to experience life, since if you are reading this, you’re probably the type of person I would care about, even a little. Or you could do the bidding of Mark Zuckerberg and continue to use the shit out of his site, I mean, its not like he doesn’t care about you too. He only screwed over his best friend.
5-15-12 1:42 A.M.