Confessions of a Facebook Addict

One is a lonely number. In fact, it is the loneliest number. Adam knew this when he took account of all the animals in the garden. John Donne knew this when he once declared “No man is an island entire of itself.” Even the very idea of the Christian God does not exist apart from community–the Holy Trinity is quite the awesome company. No, you cannot get lonelier than one.

I was submerged into this sort of thinking when I found myself, in the middle of the night, clicking on random Facebook pictures of people whom I don’t really even know but consider “friends.” I was pining over their glamorous married lives and their newborns who look as bald as their fathers and their extravagant dinner entrees and their spectacular trips around the world and Pluto and what have you. All of which worked to remind me, of course, about how unspectacular and dull my life has become–there was no Like button for my life.

What I really wanted, what my soul truly craved, was community. Connection. The opportunity to sit before a real life flesh-and-bones human being and be able to share a drink and talk about God, relationships, Kobe or the next Tarantino film. I think four years of college trick you into thinking that community is automatic. That you don’t have to work for it, that you are entitled to it and it just comes. So what’s as close to being automatic as turning on your laptop and clicking on things all from the comfort of your seat? I wanted community, but what my mind had mistaken–and really had settled for–was instead a faux community that brings people together to spy and stalk each other from our isolated chambers of comfort.

I had a talk about this with David at a bar in downtown Los Angeles. I told him how tricky this whole social media thing is, how one might try to fulfill that desire for community but end up feeding more into it after hours of browsing. “It’s like people can have 25 days of the month that were totally horrible, and perhaps five days that were good. And yet all you see are those five days because that’s what these people post up. And they make you think, ‘Man why isn’t my life that good?’ It creates this sense of falseness.”

I agreed, though I am no better. I’ve been in that. In fact, I still struggle with it. Living in the age of digitalization and instant-everything, I feel like there is a constant need to edit out the good parts of my life and put it out on blast, to build this mirage that my life is like a party at Bel Air everyday. So that you can peep my carefully fabricated life and feel bad about yours and have you try to make amends by doing the exact same thing.

But truth is many of us are probably as miserable as you.

David said he doesn’t bother with social media as much anymore. And I can relate. But still, as much as I like to bash on it, I feel this medium could be used for great purposes. To organize real life events. To find lost or old friends. To connect people so that they can take it a step further and connect in real life.

Not replace real life interactions.

I don’t want to live my life through pictures on Facebook. I don’t want cyber-reality. I want substance. It’s always been the same order for food and conversation and people–give me real meat. That’s what I’m praying for.

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Death By Facebook

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.