Keeping up

artfest Lalicich People for saleThe Internet has changed our world completely. To know that you can so easily have access to current news or past history, that you can consult a dictionary, use a calculator, connect with friends living 4 or 5 thousand miles away… you can’t deny there is a certain magic to all this. Today someone posted a picture of a newborn of Facebook to introduce him to the grandpa’s friends. But are all changes brought by the Internet that good?

Sometimes I have the feeling that everything that needed to be said has already been said. Take Facebook again for example. People post and repost words that don’t belong to them. In certain way, we have all cheap preachers,  teachers, aspiring sages. I’m afraid that popularity has become more important that being truthful, authentic or meaningful. What’s the point in all this sharing of bits of wisdom?

Facebook and the like have become overwhelming for many people I know. I use my personal account on Facebook to read news, mind you!

It is impossible to keep up with all that is being said. These Internet sites, anything “social media,” and not counting time playing games, is consuming most of our free time even though of course you don’t read all your friends post. I see people on waiting rooms, on Starbucks, in the restaurants, and even driving! with their eyes on the iphone. And that’s a problem, because for the sake of socializing online we’re not socialize in real time.

Besides, everything has become public: the grief experienced after a significant loss, the anniversary of your mom’s death, the first time that your child used the potty, what your boss told you this morning, the brand of the toast you ate. But do we really want or need to know that much?

I’m on the alert for anything that ends up alienating us and preventing us from exercising our critical thinking.

I can see how the social can be an instrument for change and it’s great to reconnect with friends from the past that we haven’t seen in ages. But, with a few exceptions of advocacy and protests that have gone viral and generated change, Facebook and other social media give us the illusion of a connection that doesn’t really exist. If we were feeling lonely before this madness exploded, we are even lonelier now. Dependent on a like click.

Just think a little. What’s a friend? Who is a friend?

Solitude in the times of Facebook

For years now, and even though I am a guilty participant, I have been expressing my frustration with social media. Gloomy_morning____by_jeremi121As many of you have probably gone through, I also joined Facebook with the desire to “connect” with friends and family members who were away.

It worked. At least at the beginning. Or maybe it was just an illusion?

I started to find people long gone from my life and, to say the truth, some even from my memory. With most of them it was only that I said hello, they said hello, we shared how many children we had, what we did for a living and a little more than that.

Occasionally, those who had been a little closer to me also shared some pictures, quotes, links or interesting articles. But that has been pretty much it. You don’t really express feelings openly in social media unless you want some attention or… Maybe  you want others to see what a kind, evolved, smart individual you are. Let’s be frank. These days, image is all there is. You want others to come to you, buy from you, “like” you.

With very few exceptions, the desired connection really never happened even though I now receive more wishes for my birthday these days than ever before in my life. Not because now my “friends” keep track and remember my day but because Facebook reminds them.

In social media you’re supposed to display your wit and/or show kindness. There is not much place for real, healthy debate with a few exceptions.  And then you get those obnoxious friends of friends who meddle into a conversation to shut you down with an insult but with no consequences since everyone can get in and out of a chat at any time without this being considered rude.

One of my favorite cousins, a friend on Facebook, recently sent me an interesting link to a video (in French) depicting how social media reshape our brains and lives and we’re lonelier than ever now that we have Facebook and Twitter and what not.

Psychologist Sherry Turkle talks about this paradox in TED: “Connected but alone.” This is our 21st century reality, she says. We avoid intimacy (we fear intimacy, totally being ourselves in the presence of others) and carry on the illusion of companionship. However, we are no longer connecting with our feelings, we’re not truly relating with others.

You know this. Facebook will never fill the void of a good conversation over a cup of tea, looking into each other eyes, comforting the friend with a pat on her hand or shoulder.

These days, we don’t really know if someone is listening to us. Most of the time, we feel they are not and we are probably right.

To conclude… we are becoming increasingly narcissistic and very lonely.