For me, Facebook is like a drink to an alcoholic. But the problem is, I conduct a lot of business on Facebook. I need to check-in, to update client pages, to post to promote my own creative endeavors as well as those of a few businesses. It’s what I do, this Facebook dance.
But I have a problem with Facebook. It’s more of a problem with the always-on-connectivity that seems to be so prevalent in our modern lives. My phone becomes a third appendage, a vestigial tail, a flask of vodka tucked under my shirt. And Facebook is the elixir I most crave when I’ve been OFFLINE for any extended length of time.
What are the things about Facebook that are so addictive?
- Updates from friends.
- Trending news, according to friends.
- Community around current and local events (The recent Austin floods brought out some of what is best about Facebook and social media: people responding to and taking care of each other.)
- Funny cat pictures.
- Buzz-worthy videos, Vines, or other social artifacts that I should be aware of.
- Business and advertising opportunities.
- Just the thrill of opening mobile app or the webpage and seeing the little red flags of Messages and Updates.
And is there an inherent problem with Facebook as a platform, or is it our connective-addictive iPhones? I went for a walk this morning and made a conscious decision to leave my phone on the kitchen table. Sure I wanted to track the miles I was about to put in. And like yesterday morning I wanted to take and share pictures of the amazing sunrise in my nature-rich neighborhood. But I didn’t bring my phone. I unplugged, even for an hour. No music in my hears except for the birds and flow of the swelling creek. No photos except those in my mind. And most importantly no email, no texts, no updates or selfies.
We have, I have, become addicted to narrating the story of my life through pictures, songs, and messages. LIFESTREAMING is what we used to call it. And now with apps like Meerkat and Periscope we really can stream it, but I’m not so much into real-time event as the capture and broadcast of cool things that I see or do. And yes it’s all about me. Facebook is the modern equivalent to Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself. We are all proudly crowing about our joy or angst and looking for people, “friends,” to respond.
And when they do, as in a few pictures I’ve recently been tagged in of my significant other and I, the thrill of celebration and pseudo community can be quite satisfying. Satisfying what, exactly, I’m not sure. Maybe that’s the issue.
This narcissistic song that we sing and share is some sort of call to our community to celebrate us too. See me. See what I’m doing. And chime in if you have something nice to say. Let’s all give each other a bunch of virtual High-Fives. And why not? What’s the problem with that?
For me Facebook is not the problem. For me, the problem is my desire to connect and be reflected by all of my tribe. Of course I do my share of celebrating their posts and photos too. I AM A CONNECTOR. For me the problem is the split focus I develop between experiencing an event (a live concert, for example) as an event and not as a sharable moment. If we all spent more time seeing the show rather than video recording the show on our iPhones for later, we’d be a lot more present.
So for me, the digital consumption of my soul is about presence and quality of life.
Today I am going to take connectivity holidays for hours at a time, everyday, from all of my devices. I’m going to breathe. Maybe put in a 5 minute breathing meditation in places. And just NOT BE ONLINE. For me it’s not Facebook, for me it’s my compulsion to share, to shine brightly, to broadcast MY STORY.
I am already building The Song of Myself online. I have 4 blogs, a number of books, and several active social networks. (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn) I don’t need MORE content, I need MORE presence. More awareness. Better listening, in real-time to real people who matter to me. People who I spend time with at 100% awareness rather than split awareness (Just a second, let me tag this and share it and I’ll be right with you.)
I’m not pointing fingers at anyone but myself. I do recognize the sad addiction in others, but I do my best not to pass judgement and to focus on MY LIVING and MY EXPERIENCE rather than what they are doing.
Let’s STOP, LOOK, and LISTEN. Breathe and move on. No update, no check-in, no picture, no post, no tag. Nothing. Just living.
Wow, what a concept. (I think, satisfactorily, as I finish this post and prepare to share it broadly.) Is that the definition of IRONIC? Or is that hypocrisy? Maybe just humorous.