Social media is a trip. I could not have imagined as a child the universe that awaited, communication so easily accessible. It is truly a wonder-arguably the eight wonder of the world. I love my FB time but confess it as a guilty pleasure.
It is not always inspiring. There is gossip and filth crabbing virus-like from person to person, more than can be believed. The personal nature of revelations are often shocking. Acquaintances own up to thoughts, spilling opinions I never would have guessed at. Our boundaries have obviously been rewritten since Grandma advised my generation to air our dirty laundry in private.
Stories rage like wildfire, and few do research or check facts before forwarding the latest tidbit. A meme can make us laugh aloud or feel instant outrage. We are compelled to add our two cents to the conversation, even if it is someone we haven’t seen in person in forever. After all, they posted it so they are seeking our feedback. The reflex is almost that of when the telephone rings. You hear the call and must answer.
There is a phenomenon newly known as virtue signaling, when someone posts something like “I gave money to the homeless today.” We love the feedback, thrilling to see that someone approves of what a good person we are. The more likes a post receives make us feel valued. “I got nearly a hundred likes on my post- Man, I am smart and popular.(insert smiling emoji here).”
Or of course, the opposite happens and no one comments. (crying face, poop pile, crying face). We are then relegated to the depths of the lonely and under-appreciated. Facebook is ego gratification at its finest. You did notice how beautiful my granddaughter is, didn’t you? It provides the comforting feeling of connection, that someone else cares about what matters in our lives.
It is a fantasy world into which we drop our fears and dreams, begging the universe for validation of ourselves. It is undeniably fun. It is also deceptively addictive . It encourages us to become more self-absorbed. We are narcissists briefly touching one another for our own gratification.
Facebook is not evil. Like anything else in this life, it is simply what we make of it.
I love being able to reach out quickly and effectively to the people I care about. I love the posts that make me laugh. I play two games through the site that are fun and keep me occupied. I have met people from foreign countries who share my interests, indulging in conversations that I never dreamed I would. I have shared photos and organized happenings. It is a useful tool. I appreciate what it can do.
It is interesting to me that my children, now mid -twenties, are recognizing the shallower aspects of social media. Some have even become bored with it, deleting their walls. They are independently choosing to limit their online time in favor of face to face interaction. They choose not to get drawn into drama but add commentary when they feel it appropriate. They are aware of the pitfalls and give me hope for our future.
My sons’ egos are not dependent on social approval but rest within their own knowledge of themselves. They have learned balance. I wish I could say that I gave them that gift but frankly they have always been more media savvy than I could ever aspire to. They reached this place of reason on their own. It is fortunate they see true, for their children will enter a world reliant on technology in a much more complex way. I hope they enjoy it. I hope it serves their needs. And I hope they always retain their human magic, deftly interacting in the good old fashioned method: face to human face.