I was scrolling on Facebook this morning – something I don’t do very often anymore. Someone posted, “Be careful around unhappy people.” And I thought – yeah, that is why I am not scrolling on Facebook often anymore. Reading comment threads feels too often like watching toddlers scratch and bite over a toy.
Why do I keep going there? The ratio to pleasant interactions/observations to feeding frenzies is not favorable for happiness. Not in my feed at any rate.
Months ago, I disagreed with someone about something, and what sticks in my head (and in the corner of my rib cage) is his, “Why are you trying to pick a fight?” I had to reread what I wrote a dozen times, not seeing how I had done that. Disagreement can’t be tolerated in some places – and it takes time to get a feel for the room, to see who has the “chip on their shoulder”, or what is now the viper you have to be careful not to stumble onto: Don’t tread on me. What a greeting.
I’m not good at taking time to get a feel for the room. From the thousands of potential connections on a “friend”‘s list, and the select 20-or-so that the algorithms presents to, I am beginning to thing that they are chosen by “engagement” statistics. I no longer think of engagement with a positive connotation.
Am I remembering correctly? That we begged Facebook for the angry emoticon?
Since the beginning of Facebook people talked about a need for a sarcasm font. I think that is superfluous. We need an earnestness font.
What point is there in anger and self-righteousness? “Been there, done that,” far too often. And just lately, with my ridiculously sketchy memory, I am not certain of anything – even my own experience – and… I’m finding that it doesn’t really matter most of the time.
My feed looks like one of those centers where people pay to go into a room and throw computers against the wall, or take a sledgehammer to something once-beautiful. I think I read that people don’t actually feel better after this kind of thing. On the contrary. It becomes an almost addictive kind of behavior.
I don’t know. The positive posts that show up in my feed seem saccharine just by virtue of their stark juxtaposition to everything else. Or: poke it carefully with a long stick because it may not be what it appears to be. When the laughing emoji pops up, I assume it is mocking – no doubt because I have used it that way, too.
I do know that I am tired of it all. Literally short-of-breath most of the time. I walk around like Pig-Pen with an aura of crap. I bring it into the room. I see the world through it.
Lately I have been ashamed of myself for all the time I have wasted binge-watching old episodes of ER. Then I log onto the “social network” and read caustic arguments about Madonna’s face. I think watching hour after hour of ER in isolation is better for me then ten minutes of Facebook, if I am going to pick. ER makes me hate myself for being lazy. Facebook makes me hate myself for being a member of the judgmental mob. I find myself, like everyone else, (unconsciously) believing I have a unique and elevated perspective. I use energy to start reasoning it all out, formulating my brilliant insight – more of an exercise of ego than of social service. And either way, completely deluded. My “insight” is a product of the mob mentality. There is no way around that.
They say fish can’t see the ocean they swim in. I wonder if they can see the shit they fill it with?
I liked Twitter. I had a great list. But I left when Musk forced his way into my feed. I miss the contacts I had there. I keep telling myself that choosing not to go to an as*hole’s party, instead of going and saying I will stay in the quiet corner with only my friends is a good choice, and a valid metaphor.
I hated high school. And I never went to a single party in high school. I know that makes me a freak in most people’s eyes. It means there are life skills I never learned. I am not denying that.
Why have I been struggling with social media for over a decade? Didn’t I recognize it?
I heard a podcast yesterday about weak ties and contentment. And I thought of the woman on the cleaning staff at work whom I exchange sincere smiles with every single day. We’ve never spoken except to say good morning – though once I told her her new haircut looked great.
To everyone else, I think I bitch the majority of the time and tell myself it is because we are “close” enough for me to do that.
How screwed up is that?
I’m not blaming Facebook for my state of discontent. It is only one means of self-destruction – as I have constructed it.
There is a lot of concern about AI now. But I think it’s been throwing chum in the water for a long time already. But then: I never went to a party in high school, so maybe there’s no more blood in the water than has been there all along?
I wouldn’t know.
I don’t know much at all. Except now I have an hour before I need to leave for work and am thinking a bubble bath sounds really good.
I’d really like to be squeaky-clean right now.
Virtuous. (←Irony font)
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(I don’t care if I am wrong.)
I remember when. when you didn’t struggle, against your better self. when even with mistakes, you would smile. be yourself, Bright. learn your way as you walked. words were better flags for you. shall I wish for your smile, again. I will. I do. (and the same, for me)
I always see your face as beautiful. (I’m not wrong.) pardon please.
There’s a lot here to think about. Social media thrives on cnflict. Even the old online chatrooms and fora thrived on what they called flaming. That’s what drives engagement because people are contradictory like that.
I left twitter for a while, then changed my mind and just blocked Musk. I still use the messaging function to communicate with friends who aren’t on another platform, ignore the fact that my feed is full of right-wing trolls.
This is why I have grown to love mastodon – there is no confrontationalism on there, there are almost scholarly discussions of things, there are posts in any number of languages (4 of which I’m lucky enough to speak and understand), there are lots of pix of trees, forests, mist, rocks, windows, cute animals (if you like that sort of thing), and there’s NO algorithm (the tag line lots of people use for mastodon is “you’re the algorithm,” which I like a lot.
You know me well enough to know I can’t and won’t say do this or do that. I go down the same workholes as you sometimes. Maybe I actually think about life very superficially and just throw out words because they explode in my head without me thinking about them. Let it be so.
We don’t have a bath in our house. Perhaps it’s the Calvinist in M and me that persuaded us to get rid of it and just have a huge shower cubicle instead.
As always, sending positive thoughts. And you know where I am.