Wednesday, September 12, 2012

It's not so easy to give up Facebook.

Facebook, the Opium den of the modern era.
I have talked to many people who have said that they want to stop using Facebook.  Many are sick of the drama, others don't like the amount of time that they spend on the site.  Some feel that the site itself does not "jive" with their own ideals.  That being the case, many of these people still use Facebook, no matter how much they claim that they want to give it up.

Recently I was asked about this blog by a couple of individuals.  One stated that she wanted to give up Facebook.  However, a few months have passed and the individual is just as addicted to Facebook as ever.  So, I ask, why it is so hard to leave?  What would a person be missing in their lives if they just took the time to step away from Facebook?

Many people who I talk to are scared of leaving Facebook because they feel that they will no longer be popular.  Often people will feel popular just by virtue of being on Facebook.  Suddenly one is connected to family, old childhood friends, and others when they get onto Facebook.  The thrill of finding a person you once forgot on Facebook is, for some, exhilarating.  Many spend their lives looking for that feeling again, logging on multiple times daily, hoping that they will uncover someone from the past.  Hoping that they will rekindle a long lost memory.  It's somewhat like a drug.

My friend is not alone in having wanted to give up Facebook.  Many people have ideals of having a Facebook free life.  Many are aware that they spend a lot of time on the site.  Others go to bed, often angry at themselves, for blowing an entire day on Facebook.  What is the answer for these people?  On one level, the person wants to leave Facebook behind and start a life free of (a)social networking.  On that level they crave the time where friendships meant meeting a person somewhere and doing something with that person in the flesh.  Now friendships seem to largely exist via the connection of the computer.  There is very little human interaction.  There is no sharing of laughter or of an event that unfolds before the friends. 

Further, most interactions on Facebook are somewhat phoney.  People can create their own fictional lives for others.  Granted, many individuals may do that in person, but one can not easily create an entire deception in person as easy as can be created via Facebook.  As many spend more and more time on Facebook, they find themselves comparing their lives with other people.  Many people do not want to be seen as normal.  Instead, they want to be viewed as extraordinary, with lives that are the objects of envy.  What is normal in the real world is not normal on Facebook.  It is hard to feel that your life is as great as others, when your life may include addiction, abuse, financial worry, stress, relationship problems, problems with children and family, health issues, and countless other issues.  Further, when a person sees everyone else living a life of materialism and success they feel that their life is not up to snuff (few people share all the negative issues on Facebook -- some don't share any).  As a result, some are compelled to log back into Facebook and compare their lives further with others, often feeling depression, stress, and anxiety over how their life is not as great as they had hoped.  However, the reality is that everyone's life is full of problems.  Real friends often speak of these problems.  However, on Facebook, it is easy to hide these problems or feel extra-embarrassed about them as others don't seem to be dealing with such issues. 

How does one who is depressed remove themselves from Facebook?  Many people who are depressed try to escape reality, and one way in which many people escape reality is through Facebook.  By leaving behind your escape, you are putting yourself out there.  I don't believe that escapes are bad.  There are healthy escapes in which one can get away from the stresses of life for a while.  However, one must face the stresses of life in order to grow and move on.  Being on Facebook and living a fantasy life is not a way in which one can easily grow.  In fact, many people seem to stop growing while they are on Facebook. 

If you are a heavy Facebook user, ask yourself if you have grown since being on Facebook, and if so, how much you have grown.  Consider taking some time away from Facebook.  You will be surprised how much you can grow when you are not constantly checking in on the lives of others and comparing yourself to other people.  When you start feeling happy with your own life, even if there are some issues (and everyone has issues in their lives), you will feel that you want to continue to grow.  Facebook stops growth.  Being constantly hooked onto (a)social networking does nothing to make a person really want to improve themselves.  Why improve yourself if you can say you improved yourself?  Facebook is all about talking, not about doing.  If you want to really carve out a great life for yourself you have to do things, not just talk. 

Try giving up Facebook for at least a month.  Then comment on your growth.  Have you noticed a change with your life?  It will be hard not to.  Perhaps there is a lot you want to achieve.  Ask yourself: Would you have achieved your dreams always connected to and living your life through Facebook?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

An Analysis of the site:

An article on the website opens with the following:
"If you're a loser with not much of a social life and few friends, chances are you don't like facebook very much."
Strong words for someone who claims to be offering "free advice for adults on how to make friends and become more social."  Sadly, the author of this website seems to think that Facebook is a "social" website.  He/she could not be further from the truth.

First, Facebook is in no way "social."  It is one of the most (a)social websites on the internet.  In fact, many people, some of which were social at one time, have become so addicted to Facebook that it has become their main window to the outside world. 

In this article, I am going to basically go through the points that adultsocialskills tries to make in it's article, located here and state the truth to each asserted fallacy one by one.  Keep in mind that the author of the site offers his ebook, "The Popular Club Instruction mManual" for sale with a monthly training program for $29.95
a month!  I can't imagine anyone actually spending money on this book and "program" after reading the things that are spewed forth on the website.
"When people look at your Facebook profile it's not so much the number of friends you have that is important. It's your pictures. Your pictures provide a true glimpse into the social life you have (or don't have). Loners may have large friends lists, but will have very few pictures of themselves with other people. This is a major tip off to the outside world that something is wrong with you socially."
There are many reasons why a Facebook user may not have many pictures.   First, not everyone on Facebook feels the need to use it twenty four hours a day and post hundreds of pictures.  Further, to do so would show that the user is more addicted to the site and less social than one is trying to appear.  To say that having a few pictures on Facebook results on one being more or less social has a very small correlation to the number of friends one has.  Further, just because a person on Facebook has a certain number of friends does not mean that they have even met the people who they are friends with.  Many people, who claim to be social, have thousands of friends, many who they have never spoken to more than once, and many who they have never seen in person. 
"If you've wasted, or are in the process of wasting, the best years of your life the last thing you want to do is be reminded of how great everyone else's life is. When you go on facebook, and see how everyone else is out having fun with other people, it can really hurt a lonely person's self esteem. It can make them feel the world is passing them by."
This is far from the truth.  Many people who spend their lives on Facebook have very little in terms of an "exciting life".  In fact, I would venture to state that many of those who are on Facebook are not living the best years of their life.  Why?  Because they are on Facebook.  Being on Facebook is passively living life.  There is nothing active about living one's life behind a computer screen, posting status updates about how "exciting" you think that your life is, or spending hundreds of hours playing games such as Farmville.  In essence, if you are on Facebook, the world is passing you by.

For example, when I spent time traveling to Thailand and Central America, I had no need or want to be on Facebook.  When I arrived back home I found that I was bored and wanted to be on Facebook.  I thought I was missing something by not "communicating" with others and sharing my life.  While I never posted on Facebook while on vacations (because I was actually enjoying my life), when I found myself bored with life, or thought my life was stale, I went back on Facebook.

In the end, I got rid of Facebook and told myself that I was going to actually live my life instead of look at the lives of others and post about the things I had done in the past.  Once I let go of Facebook and (a)social networking was when I saw my life really take shape.  The results of leaving Facebook still continue to manifest themselves in positive ways.  I continue to lose weight and improve my health (when I was on Facebook I spent too much time in front of a computer screen feeling insecure about myself), I am learning more than ever before (once again I have found my love for reading and am doing better than ever with college), I am spending more time outside of my house (traveling, involved with internships, seminars, and enjoying the city I live in), not comparing myself to others (I no longer feel the insecurity that I once felt when I was on Facebook.  Even though I had traveled all over the world and achieved far more than many of my peers, I felt that there was something innately wrong with me.  I felt insecure, as if I was being judged constantly.  Further, I felt that there was something innately wrong about "bragging" about my accomplishments.  I realized I could be proud of what I have done without broadcasting it to the world). 

Why should I feel the need to be on a site and see how much "fun" other people are having?  Why can't I have my own fun in life?  It is not healthy for anyone, either a "social butterfly" or a "loser" as this website has come to call those who lack friends, to be comparing themselves with other people -- many of who brag and constantly exaggerate their lives to the world.  Just because someone says they did something great does not mean they did, nor does it mean that they are happy with their life.  In fact, I would venture to guess that many people who are addicted to Facebook are genuinely unhappy with their lives. 

My experience with Facebook has proved to me that Facebook is an emotional roller coaster for many.  I have had multiple friends who would post about how wonderful they were, with status messages such as: "I love my children, my friends, my family, God, my life and my wonderful husband/wife.  I am so blessed."  Then, a few days later, they state: "I don't know who my real friends are, if you are my real friend reply to this post.  I am so sick of being someone different than who I am to please others."  Is this healthy?  When I continued to see such posts from people I realized that there was no place for me on the site.  Sadly, many of these posts were met with replies from many people, soothing the individuals once again as they went all emotional over Facebook.
"Facebook was built for real world connections, not cyber relationships. In the past, loners loved chatting online because it gave them an outlet to communicate with people without revealing their lonely, isolated lives. Facebook does the exact opposite: it reveals to people your real world social status."
What Facebook was "built for" and what it is in reality for are two different things.  Facebook was originally crated for the shallow purpose of comparing the looks of two college students.  In essence, it is not much different today.  Today Facebook hardly reveals to people one's real social status.  Instead it reveals to others what a person wants to show others.  Again, many people basically outright lie about their lives on Facebook.  One can easily omit the bad and exaggerate the good giving the world an inflated image of who they are.  It is not hard to not mention having credit card debt, addictions, STDs, receiving failing grades, being on a sex offender registry, and other negative things that are sometimes common to many people.  However, it is very easy to mention to the world things that sound better in text than they are in reality.  Facebook does not reveal anything to the world except what the author wants to reveal.  Facebook is not reality.

In the end, Facebook is not a real social experience.  It is the leader in (a)social networking.  It is quite possibly the worst internet site to have ever been created.  Facebook is a playground for the insecure and addicted.  If you think that being on Facebook makes you social, you really need to take a long hard look at your life.  There is absolutely nothing social about feeling the need to check a website multiple times a day (or even once a day).  There is nothing social about feeling the need to spy on other people and see if your life is better than theirs.  When you are on Facebook you are not hanging out with other people.  You are not involved in the world around you.  Instead you are a part of an imaginary world where few things are truly as they seem. 

Again, look at your life and ask yourself what it would be like without Facebook.  Ask yourself what you really want to do with your life.  Do you really want to spend it hooked up to an internet website where you are compelled to display your life to others, and do you really want to read about every small thing that other people do?  Further, is being on Facebook a rational choice that you would make, given all the alternatives, when you look at your life goals?  Be honest with yourself when you ask if you are addicted to Facebook.  Even spending an hour a day (1/16th of the average waking day) is a sign of an addiction.  When you get off of Facebook do you really feel good about yourself, or do you feel like you wasted time?  Do you feel like you are living a fantasy, or wish that your real life, your non-Facebook life was different?  Don't let websites that call people who don't use Facebook losers bully you into not making the most of your life.  Purge the urge to be on (a)social websites like Facebook.  Wake up and take your life back.  Believe me, you will be glad you did.

Lastly, the "program" states the following in it's terms and conditions:
"Our program contains some highly aggressive, politically incorrect, straight forward language that may not be suitable for everyone. Our methods for gaining friends, respect, and losing the fear of rejection may lead to some social side effects that some users may not be comfortable with, including, but not limited to the following:

- Being perceived by some as arrogant, aggressive, or overly confident;
- Developing an indifference toward the opinions of specific people;
- Being perceived as busy and less available than before;
- Not giving off an impression overt niceness anymore;
- Having people frequently move in and out of your life;
- Having to reject, ignore, and decline people;
- Creating drama in your life that may not currently be there;
- Using *dishonestly and manipulation in social situations;
- Developing an impersonal approach to some other people;
- Resentment from old friends and family members regarding changes to your lifestyle;
- Seeing people as objects or in a less personal way."

* Please note: While some of our methods involve dishonestly, it is that of a relatively harmless nature that is normal/common in the social world.
Do you really want to be that way?  Is that what being social is supposed to be?  I tend to think not.  

Do you have any thoughts on the website that you want to share?  If so, please share in the comments below.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Creativity Lost: (a)social wastelands Twitter and Facebook bankrupt creativity.

Recently I found myself on the campus of a large well respected university.  I overheard a new freshman talking to a friend, clearly upset with having to take a philosophy class in which he would be forced to write a paper.  The young man's friend was sympathetic, sitting there as the young man elaborated, "I made sure I took English classes in high school that didn't force me to write papers."  Yes, you heard right.  This young college student was upset that he had to write a paper for a college level course.  And why would he not be?  The days of being creative and writing blogs and journals are gone.  In their place, sites like Facebook and Twitter have emerged.  Sites that have made it so that young people do not have to use creativity to show off their ultra-amazing lives.  Instead of writing a blog entry, all one has to do to impress the world is post a one hundred and forty letter statement to the world, and that statement will, for a moment, make this lazy young person a superstar of his little pathetic internet world.

I wrote before about how I know quite a few people who were highly creative that have pretty much stopped writing and being creative after they left more creative outlets for Facebook.  Such sites that I saw people being creative on included sites like Storywrite and Deviant Art.  Although these sites could be portrayed as (a)social networks, I tend to not think of them quite in the same vein as Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace (MySpace was actually far more creative than Facebook and Twitter, as many people on the site focused on writing blog entries).  In fact, one thing I have noticed amongst my creatively bankrupt peers is that they all left other more creative outlets around 2009-2010 and disappeared to the (a)social and creatively-disastrous mental wasteland of Facebook.  

Sadly, I have seen individuals that once wrote detailed narratives of their lives and multiple fictional works, as well as individuals who used to create amazing works of art put a halt to that and instead replaced their intellectual and creative outlets with posting status updates about how amazing their lives are now.  I cringe to see people talk about how writing a three page paper is torture, because the extent of their reading takes place on (a)social networking.

Recently I was told by a friend that she was instructed to do a presentation of literacy for a college course.  The course required her and others to speak about what literacy meant to them.  For the subject of reading, many put Facebook.  Yes, many young people consider Facebook as being in the same vein as reading a book.  Further, I have noticed that many college students no longer seem interested in paying attention to lectures, instead opting to update Facebook statuses and chat on Facebook during class.  Recently at a professional level training course I attended, I noticed one individual text messaging during the instructional lecture.  Further, I am reminded of a mathematics course I took a few years back in which one individual was talking, yes, talking on his cell phone in the back row during an entire class period while the professor lectured up front. 

While the unemployment rate in the United States is very high, we have an issue of many young people who no longer care to improve and educate themselves.  Many opt to replace learning with the mentally dead sites of Facebook, Twitter, and the like.  How does one compete in the modern world if they refuse to become educated and challenge themselves?  Is writing a three page paper that challenging for a college freshman?  Does he expect to make it through college without having to write papers? 

I was told by the same friend mentioned above that she heard a group of individuals also speaking about how they planned on dropping out of an English class because the teacher expected her students to write papers.  Sadly, this type of not wanting to learn is something I am seeing more and more as I get older.  When I entered college I was excited at the idea of learning and enlarging my mind.  Then again, I am not the kind of person who will let sites like Facebook and Twitter destroy my creativity.  Thankfully, there are a few other people left out there who are creative and have no part in sites like Facebook.   Sadly, those people are not amongst the majority of my friends and relatives who virtually sold their personalities and their lives to these sites.

If you think that Facebook is a creative outlet, you had better think again. 
There is only a mediocre amount of creativity that exists in telling the world what you ate for lunch, where you are going for the weekend, where you went shopping last night, or where you got your nails done.  Sure, you can share pictures with the world via Facebook, that is, if anyone bothers to look at them instead of ceaselessly advertising their own amazing life.  However, if you write something substantial on Facebook, chances are that nobody will bother reading it.  The truth is, Facebook promotes laziness.  There is no need to actively create when one can passively browse through the status updates of others.  And that is if they want to see what their friends are up to.  In fact, it seems that more people are interested in what their competition or 'frienemies' are up to.  The pinnacle of creativity on Facebook seems to be in one-upping one's competition. 

I regret that I will probably never again see some people create the same type of things that they created before they moved on to Facebook.  Why should they?  They are getting the same strokes from sharing mediocre events in their lives with the world.  They no longer have to create anything to get the attention they seem to crave.  Instead they can post a short status message or a mindless one hundred and forty character tweet and feel the same sense of achievement that they would have once felt if they wrote a twenty page story.  No wonder people don't like to write anymore. 


Note:  I removed comment moderation for this blog.  Now all comments should appear immediately when posted.