Social Isolation

A terrible thing is happening.

I’m falling out of love with Facebook.

I think this must be how a heroin addict feels.  You hate heroin, but you love it.  You never want to see it again, but you can’t live without it.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I couldn’t live without social media, or, more specifically, Facebook.  And yet, it holds me.

It holds me.

I’ve been thinking a lot about social media in general lately, and it’s really sort of a sad testament to our culture that our main form of communication occurs without ever having to actually see or talk to anyone.  Even family.  I’m just as guilty.  In all seriousness, probably 90% of my contact with friends and family that I stay in touch with is via social media.  So, here’s the question: is that a bad thing?

Maybe it is.

I wonder if we are becoming a people who has zero social interaction skills.  How ironic that Facebook (and Twitter, and whatever) is called “social” media.  Maybe it should be called anti-social media.  We can allegedly fulfill our familial and friendship obligations without ever leaving our reclining chairs (which is, incidentally, where I am sitting right now.)  We don’t ever have to send a thank you note, write a letter, or, God forbid, talk to someone.

What’s worse, when you actually do talk to someone, I think the lack of social interaction is showing.  No one looks anyone in the eye anymore.  Usually that’s because they are busy checking Facebook on their smart phones.  Texting also fits into this category–again, you don’t actually have to talk to anyone.  I guess if it wasn’t for politicians and Baptist ministers, talking would go out of fashion altogether.

Even though I just made a lot of compelling points about why social media is going to be the downfall of modern society (I didn’t really make any compelling points, but who cares), the real reason I am falling out of love with Facebook is because it is making me hate people again.

I hated people before, you know.  Long ago.  I was a bitter, hateful youth.  Then I sort of mellowed out.  Well, a little, anyway.  I can usually ignore people who really annoy me.  But with Facebook, I can’t ignore them.  It’s like I’m drawn to the annoying-ness, then I get some sort of pleasure complaining about it.  How sick is that?! No–how sad is that?

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So now I’m starting to hate people again, and I’m afraid I’m not alone.  So you see, this is yet another way our social media is isolating us from each other.  Not only is it making me indifferent, it’s making me want to actively hurt people in the face.

I mean, seriously.  Don’t you get that?  Don’t you read some of the statuses and just want to die? Or kill someone?  You know what I mean–the ones that go on about how wonderful their lives are.  “I woke up in my satin sheets this morning in my mansion and went for a walk around our private island, and some sand got in my nose, and when I sneezed, dimes flew out! How wonderful! Then the kids went and built houses for poor people and then we went and all bought complete new wardrobes for the week! We are so blessed!”

Yeah.

Or it’s the opposite–you know, the ones who are always on the verge of death.  But still, they are blessed.

And then there are the ones who feel compelled to share every single detail of their personal lives.  Take my word for this, folks–no one cares about the color of your BM.  Really. And some of the stuff you are sharing shouldn’t be shared.  In the old days, if you wanted to find out about people’s dirty laundry,  you had to rely on gossiping, or Jerry Springer.  Now, just turn on the computer.

I’m starting to think maybe I’m the problem.  Maybe someone with my personality defects shouldn’t be exposed to others.  Maybe it’s better if I just sit in the house and avoid social interaction of any kind.

Except Facebook, of course.

I can’t give that up.


 

Good Ol’ Days

     Some people are pretty dubious about social media–Facebook, Twitter, MySpace–but I’m a fan. I usually have to listen to snarky little remarks from my husband about how the only way to find out anything about anyone is to read it on Facebook, but I don’t care. He puts up with quite a bit of snarky from me, too.

     One of the biggest benefits for me personally is that I get to talk to friends (and family!) that I otherwise wouldn’t. Just a few days ago, for example, the brother of one of my best friends in elementary school sent me a friend request, and long story short, I have now chatted with my two very best childhood friends.  It seems like a small thing, but it makes me very happy.

     To my kids, I’m a fossil. In their minds, I caught a ride to the one-room schoolhouse in the back of a covered wagon and did my homework at night by the light of a lantern.  The thought of me actually having friends and playing and having sleepovers is almost unimaginable to them.  However, though I’m much older now than I was then, I’m not so old that I can’t remember those times, and I remember them fondly. I’m sure everything wasn’t perfect, but through the lens of time, the bad stuff sort of fades away, and only the good things really matter.

     Were those the best times of my life? Great question. I don’t think they were. I think now is the best time–when my kids are still small and growing up around me. Seeing them laugh and grow and change and learn, that makes this the best time. I will make one concession, though. Those were by far the easiest times of my life. Now, when I was actually living those moments, I’m sure I thought they were anything but easy. All kids think their lives are incredibly difficult. I know my son is especially prone to this mentality. And I try very hard to be understanding and not make light of his problems, because I DO remember what it was like to be that young.

     For example, I moved away from my childhood home when I was very young. I left the only home I had known, and the kids I had literally grown up beside. I was devastated. I declared I would die, that I hated the new home, hated the new kids, all of the typical childhood angst. The truth is, I don’t know if I ever did have any friends as good as those I had when I was a little kid. It seems to me like friendship is something that isn’t as important as it used to be. Allow me an old person moment to say that kids these days just don’t make and keep friends the way we used to. I think being a good friend means being unselfish and loving someone more than yourself, and I think as a society in general, we suck at that.

     I have a couple of very good friends now that I love very much. I’m very thankful for them. But I do miss those days, and I miss my friends. Once I moved away, it was never the same. The area I moved to is a very rural area, and very different from the one I left. If you’re not from here, you are never from here. Even though I am slowly creeping up on the thirty year mark of living in not only the same area, but the same house, I am still an outsider. My views and beliefs are always just a little to the right or the left of most of the community. Another interesting point–my very best friends are not “from here” either, in the same sense that I am not “from here.”

     Where I grew up, I belonged. We were all coal camp kids, our dads all worked for the same company, we all lived right around each other, we all just fit together. All of that is gone now, even the school where we spent our earliest years. Those kids? They’re gone, too. They grew up, and got jobs, and had kids, and left behind the “easy” of childhood.  But the memories of those kids are there, and in my heart they’ll be little kids forever.

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