Splendid Isolation Part II

Romanticism at its greatest... Caspar David Friedrich's The Wanderer Above The Mists

We’ve made such a big to do about how great these new forms of social communication are – and the tools invented to further entrench their use and adoption by society. There’s a great book I read a while back when researching a paper for a Global Media class called “Here Comes Everybody” by Clay Shirky, who is a prominent academic in the area of not only media studies in general, but specifically new media with regards to how new methods and modes of communication are changing the way we interface on an individual level up to a national and global level. But I’m not here to review his book. I honestly don’t feel enough attention has been given to the negative aspects of these tools and trends in our increasingly global society.  There is such fanfare around the idea that tools like Facebook and the internet in general, perhaps, are the impetus behind a the growing of interconnectedness and awareness around the globe. Surely, this is true in the sense that I might stumble across a posting on a friend’s wall about a ship sailing to Palestine or some other global event, and was thus singularly made aware of it through the actions of another individual. Surely, this is one of the hallmarks of this age we have entered. But I’m starting to become disillusioned.

Very disillusioned. I find there are certain people who I follow on Facebook to track certain developments around the world. I’m thankful I have friends who devote their status updates to awareness of global issues, such as the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. It’s nice to see that kind of passion and devotion to ensure the spread of awareness and the exemplification of that passion. But that’s maybe about 10% of all the activity that goes on. The other 90% is just rubbish. Sure it’s nice to know what my friends are up to, it’s nice to keep track of people half a world away. But I find it so self-serving, or at least Facebook generates people in my feed that I just don’t give a damn about. I’m tired of having 750 friends. That’s too many to keep track of. Yeah, I could narrow it down, but I don’t want to be mean and defriend people for no reason.

But I’m just tired. It seems to have grown from something that initially seemed to hold so much promise and now appears to be so self-serving. What do I mean by that? Self-serving? It’s just this sense that individuals use tools like Facebook to really just communicate things about themselves. Perhaps that’s somewhat poorly stated. I mean that is what its meant for after all. It’s a broadcasting tool, first and foremost. Perhaps not in the sense one might usually associate with broadcasting, but that is what it is in its essence. You broadcast to the world what you want it to know. And this is the thing. With 750 friends, I find it too difficult to even follow those people who I am closest with. I’d rather just see those people on my feed. Nobody else.

I’m trying to remember where I saw a statistic recently that Facebook was way above Google in terms of the number of minutes people spent on the site. I can’t remember what the figure was, but it was astounding. But there’s something sickening about it. Something wrong. To spend so much time sitting there as the news feed drips the latest. It’s a live feed after all. There’s no appointed time of the day. It’s always happening. There’s something that makes me rather uneasy about this. It’s like we’ve been sucked into something that’s impossible to get out of. Do we forget so easily that Facebook is a corporation like any other, fueled equally as all others by personal interests and greed. You don’t think they want us to spend every minute of the 24 hours we have in a day on there? It’s merely their market share that’s at stake after all.

Anyway, I’m as guilty as all of you that are reading this. Unless you don’t have a Facebook and renounce other forms of online communication. But of course, we must remember, that the problem isn’t only restricted to Facebook or other sites like it. It’s a global – internet – problem. The idea that the internet was supposed to open our minds and allow us to be constantly informed about things has been realized in some ways and failed in others. I get the general sense that the majority of people who use the internet merely use it in a way that reinforces their existing beliefs. They read things that espouse their own opinions, rather than challenge them. And this problem isn’t even restricted to the internet itself. It’s a problem in all of global media. I mean just turn on Fox News or any of the MSM (Main Stream Media) networks. It’s all self-serving crap for the most part. We aren’t challenged anymore.

All we’re told to do now is sit around with our eyes glazed over while the latest status updates trickle down a back-lit screen. It’s numbing. I suppose I’m trying to explain why this has lead me to desire isolation so much so in order to rid myself of this numbness. This is bigger than heartbreak. I’ve generally liked to attempt to live my life predicated on the idea that everything in moderation is good. It’s best not to polarize oneself. And I find that the Facebook increasingly does this. Polarizes oneself to extreme narcissism.

There’s a great article I need to post soon about loneliness and the internet. I mean, you don’t think each one of these status updates, or at least a large majority of them are cries of desperation? A cry to be heard? By someone? Anyone?

Things are just moving to fast. I’ve tired of having to log on every 10 minutes to check the latest in my news feed. I’d rather write here about a topic. Or read a book. I mean for Christ’s sake… our society’s obsession with Facebook only builds upon a collective national mindset that is increasingly oriented around instant-gratification. We should listen to our Mother’s more. Yeah, I realize there are plenty in the political sphere who like to speak of America’s inevitable Imperial Decline… but you know it’s not even about that. It’s our collective failure as a citizenry. All we care about its ourselves, and we couldn’t give a shit about anyone else. It’s all about me, me, me. And the Facebook is perhaps the epitome of that.

So I will not be deactivating my Facebook. Wait a second. After writing that tirade against it, you’d think I would, probably. Well, I’ll tell ya what I’m going to do. Undoubtedly, it would be far more liberating to simply deactivate the whole damn thing and just sit down and read Thoreau by candlelight. But I do have people that I am close with who I have no way to stay in contact with except through – you guessed it – the Facebook. As much as I crave isolation, I must at least alert my close friends in Lebanon and around the world to contact me by email or another method. I must update my status, I must broadcast, in the most self-serving manner, my recusing of the Facebook and ultimate withdrawal into isolation from such tools of communication.

Gotta love hypocrisy. In America, we practice it as an art. Ha. Anyway… to end things on a lighter, more humorous note… here’s my cry of desperation at the moment. I used to have a boyfriend who took interest in what I said and wrote. I think… I think I would like a man who does precisely that. No, not a man to follow my Facebook status updates, to check who comments on them or ‘likes’ them. But one who takes a genuine interest in what I write, who can challenge me on what I write. I used to know a man like this. But he disappeared in human smoke (also the name of a very good book about the Interwar Period). So to conclude, if you are between the ages of 18-28, are male, preferably athletic, and you enjoyed reading this and would like to engage in some good, old fashioned discourse, please drop me a line.

Good day to you all.

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One thought on “Splendid Isolation Part II

  1. the last generation used TV to try to get rid of its loneliness. now we’re using the internet, and in some ways it seems intuitively better – these are real people that we’re talking to at least, even people we’ve met, so that’s a step up right? except you’re right in that the general figure of the internet is bending more and more towards self absorption and narcissism. which only leads to more of the loneliness people were trying to get away from in the first place.

    oh and hey thanks for your phone message! my phone is all fucked up and unstable, as is my internet, so I might not get a chance to talk to you until I see you in person.

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