I have over a thousand friends on Facebook. According to the social networking site, I am very popular and well-liked. This means that I should be happy because everybody wants to be popular and well-liked. But I’m not.
I’m not happy because I actually feel lonely. I’m not happy because it’s trying to cover a hole that it cannot fill. I’m not happy because I know that the numbers are lying, and yet I still fall for it every time I log in.
I know math is supposed to be objective, but this time it doesn’t work; the numbers don’t add up. They tell you I am socially healthy but a second opinion says I’m suffering from anorexia. I am starving for a real connection and I am not being filled. The numbers are lying.
I guess the numbers are lying because I’m lying, too. I like to post nice pictures of myself and stories about my adventures and links that the general population reveres just to get people to “like” them–to like me. I am creating a fake self so that my thousand friends whom I never talk to or care about or even really know can cast their judgments on me, opinions that hold as much weight as feathers and change on a whim.
This is the paradox that I am finding. I am exposing myself more than ever to the world, and yet I’ve never felt more hidden about who I am or how I feel. I have never been so well-connected–to people, TV, Internet, media, e-mails–and still feel so detached. A thousand friends on Facebook, and not one can tell me what’s really on my mind. Don’t believe the status updates.
I’m spending too much time trying to be social that I’m no longer spiritual. That instead of meeting up with a friend to talk face-to-face I’m now settling for 20 “friends” that I can drop 20 “Hey! How’s it going?” lines on their profile walls. The constant stream of social media has belittled me. I am no longer a body with breath and movements and words and expressions–I am just a picture with links and typed words.
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Maybe what I need is to be alone. To be alone with yourself: to find the beauty of solitude that allows your inner self to rise up; to meet the waves of conflicting thought and reason until the anchor settles; to train yourself to hear the old familiar voice you had once known to be yourself–and not the synthetic voices; to truly understand what is meant that God speaks in a still-soft voice. To be alone with other people; to share space, thoughts, awkward and uncomfortable silences; to engage in conversations that move your mind; to connect in moments and not by clicks; to discover others, and in so doing, discover yourself.
Sometimes I get lonely. But I’ve come to realize that what I’m longing for isn’t more friends–I’m longing for myself.