Facebook is turning out to be a worthwhile forum, IMHO, for political discussion and shared disgust. Yet Facebook and other social media have become “places” where people are “living” their emotional lives. Virtually and vicariously. If we’re not careful, our days can be spent broadcasting a successful life while not living one. We are encouraged to spend our hours making sure everyone knows we have it. But do we? And what is it? See! Look at this glamorous dinner/ selfie with friends/ exotic locale/gorgeous house I live in. Posting scenes from life has taken the place of living a life. I’ll say it again. Living has been replaced by posting .
We have been swindled out of having a personal experience, enjoying a private feeling, figuring out, for ourselves, difficult emotional events. Swindled by masterminds of technology, we volunteer to give ourselves up. I believe people are sizzling with anger and unhappiness, even as they madly text and post their next meal. Unhappy because they are missing their lives, deep down inside. Even if they don’t know it. Why else, if not internal rage and despair, is there so much hate and growing enemy wars right here in our country and our neighborhoods?
UsingWe have happily bought social media living, aka virtual living. Shall we fall in line and choose to swap our lives for it? Sure, self-promotion was always the way in our society. But now that social media is where we live, this means that we live a 24/7 public relations life. We forget that life is short. If we spend all our time snapping selfies for other people to judge us by, where are we?
Whether it’s failure, depression, loss, or the inability to function, we hide ourselves in a social media blur where we have private groups to soothe our public bouts of despair. But we have traded in true connection, so our grief is unending. The shared emotional moments on Facebook are met with emoji support that serves as a quick fix of feeling liked and supported. These are “highs” that evaporate on the screen. We are ultimately alone with ourselves, and lonelier with our secrets. I know it is hip to spout addiction stories, sexual abuse experiences, and all forms of nightmares, due to the Oprahization of our culture.
Bringing our pain “onstage” seems to be the goal. Sadly, personal shame and true vulnerability have gone underground via this societal shift to the “reveal”. While reality shows, politicians, and celebrities demonstrate our worst potential behaviors, we have stopped bettering ourselves, stopped implementing true connection and disclosure in our lives! Here’s the thing about having a real life. Not always fun! Inconveniently, we have to handcraft it ourselves, often without encouragement or recognition from society. However, without having a real life, we are hollow and unable to feel.
I understand how many people would rather not feel, because some feelings are deeply painful. These are often the same people who celebrate technology and the wondrous experience of being personally “off the hook”. No need for face-to-face living. What a relief it must be. I see how these same people remain ghosts to themselves, unable to touch or be touched. We are all snapped up to some degree by technology’s demands and charms. Yet some of us are fundamentally fed by virtual life. If that’s you, and you want to live before you die, make sure to consistently turn away from the screen and face the real. We must demand to live our lives off the screen.
Take those warm, energizing political discussions and bring them into your living room where people physically sit together and talk. Make a note of Facebook friends who you want to know off the screen. Take action, even if it’s just to speak on the phone. Make moves to really know people. It is simple to gather a following on Facebook where you are celebrated for who you want to be. And coming soon, we won’t even have to drive our cars or pretend to think. Artificial intelligence is taking away those annoying human activities! For those of us who stubbornly want to feel life, i.e. drive our own cars and hear the human voice, we can make social media and Facebook work for us.
Social media is an add-on. Pull the good from it, plop it down in front of you, use it. Don’t give up your real life for it.
ABOUT CHERYL PAPPAS
Cheryl is a writer, psychotherapist, and media fanatic, zeroing in on how the news, and its delivery, impacts our lives. At work on her elusive first book, she writes about celebrity, music, design, politics, and the media's influence on human behavior, all with a psychological eye. As she herself is known to mutter, "Someone has to analyze our confrontation with the manipulative underbelly of power and influence!" Her rants can be found on the Huffington Post and OpEdNews.