There is a virus going around right now. You have probably seen it, or even caught a strain of it yourself. It thrives on your need to be seen and be a little self indulgent and it encourages you to become the vapid narcissist you always accused Jennifer Lopez, Paris Hilton and Madonna of being. This virus is called Facebook. And it is eating your soul.
I am no judge here, I have fallen victim to it myself, but I have now seen the error of my ways.
In the past few weeks, a harmless little not has been circulating the on line community of my “friends”. It is called 25 Random Things About You… Now, at first glance it is a cute little note in which you share with your friends some little tid-bits that may have otherwise gone unnoticed. When I posted this myself, I was happy to find that my REAL friends already knew all of my so called Random facts. Why? Because they are my friends. I wrote of some quirky habits and that I like to sing. Not real news to anyone who knows me.
In the past four months or so, people that I knew in high school have been “requesting my friendship” on Facebook. Again. At first it was a morbid curiosity to see who got fat, what people looked like 20 years later and see what they were doing. Now, I am a bit put off by it. I think there is a reason i am not friends with most of them anymore. I have nothing in common with them. I have realized this after reading some the random things about these people.
I now know people who: Are scared of ALL Muslims. Think Barack Obama is going to lead America into the 7th ring of Hell. Take pride in the fact that they worked as a “war Contractor” – or War Profiteer as it should be called. Think George W. Bush was someone to be thankful for. Think Global Warming is a “myth”. Belong to the NRA. Think war is the answer. Hate gay people. Have more money and “stuff” than god and complain about the state of the economy. Think that “protecting their children” means hating.
You get where I am going here. If wouldn’t tolerate these people in my “real” life, why am I doing it online? Because we have a shared past? We had the same teacher in the sixth grade? We grew up knowing the same people? I don’t know if it is enough, and I don’t know if I can keep letting myself get upset and annoyed by how ugly some people have become. I don’t claim to be perfect by any means,and i am not intolerant of a “conservative” viewpoint. I just do not understand the need people have to broadcast it to the world.
If you are stupid enough to “publish” your burgeoning relationship on the site – the world knows when you have broken up. Your friends now know that you are shit at scrabble and that you read books like “The Da Vinci Code”. You feel special because yo have so many friends. They know you are a poor speller and they stalk you daily. Possible employers look at your page and wonder about your habits, hobbies and your wife. It’s just all out there and it’s out there because YOU did it.
I know what you are thinking. “Alicia…um…what about this blog?” Well, let me defend myself by saying – FIRST: this was created because I am lazy and didn’t want to email everyone I know when I moved to Europe. SECOND: It is you choice to read it. You have to actually seek it out.
This is not the case on Facebook. I am constantly inundated with peoples every thought and feeling whether I like it or not. That is just plain intrusive. I spent years cultivating a life that is pleasant and that involves positive and uplifting people from all walks of life that share similar and opposing views to my own. Now i feel trapped in these fake friendships that i was fine living without. Sure, I have reconnected with some people on Facebook that I have missed over the years, and I have found the new friendship to be just as rewarding as the old. but, I guess you just don’t know that until you “Accept” them as a friend.
And I guess that’s the point. I don’t know that I do – accept them – that is. And maybe they feel the same way about me.