I recently saw this thoughtful, minimalist and well-done little video made by a young Scottish English teacher addressing ‘Facebook addiction’ from which he himself ‘recovered’ and is now traveling to various countries instead of being sucked by the social network Giant. Facebook addiction (along with texting of course) has become prevalent amongst many teenagers (and adults as well.) Pass it on to those who might need it or to concerned parents of teens who did not even know of life before Facebook existed. Pass it on. Without judging though.
Although it is ironic that the cameraman (but not the protagonist) of this video has a facebook page, this is a relevant little video, especially at a time when online narcissism has been glamourized to mind-blowing proportions. And unless they are truly marketing, like some older professionals use facebook to do, an average young adult now without even having traveled or worked much has on an average anything between 500 to 5000 “friends.”
I do have an account under my real name. Joined very late comparatively, though I used to walk past for over 18 months along the streets and wrought-iron fences of Cambridge that Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network ran across in the film’s opening sequences. I only befriend those I know, those who I have met in the real world and those who are my real friends and well-wishers or at most have common friends I know who are working in architecture or music. After all, how can you deny when architect Ben Van Berkel himself sends you a friend request? (On the other hand, okay, there are about 10 people on my list I haven’t ‘met’ in person but responded to their requests as they were architects and composers, with whom I shared common friends and we exchanged mails first so we were not total strangers. 10 ‘unmet’ on a list of 180 is not bad.) Yes, I do turn down many ‘requests’ but send a polite mail first to explain why – it is not personal, just a silly principle I’ve to follow to keep privacy and to an extent online security. I will also admit that I have not befriended those who were mean or bullied me back in school and now suddenly send me requests after years goodness knows for what reason. (It is not because I hold any grudge, far from it since there’s nothing more liberating than forgiveness and equanimity – it is because I believe that my private profile and photos are meant for real friends, not nosy priers or voyeurs or those who never cared in the first place but now are curious to find out about my life.) They are free to see my professional work site, but the personal is private.
It is okay to be all open too, perhaps to keep all your personal content public as many do on FB and I commend those who are brave or inclined enough to do so – privacy, spamming and security concerns be damned. Come to think of it, even this blog is in many ways a personal muse but one I willingly share in public. But for some reason, I draw the line for Facebook. FB is a convenient invention, but it is not our Master nor our tell-all diary. And one always has the choice on how one wishes to use or not use that networking tool. Perhaps there is something alluring to have the freedom to suddenly ‘befriend’ anyone from anywhere on this planet, to be on a network that has over 500 million people (and several fake profiles on it as well,) and no one should be judged on their choices – but every person is different and every person has a choice on how much they want to share.
And as this video rightly reminds – announcing every little mundane detail of your life as a ‘status update’ that millions of facebook users do is something the world has lived without for centuries and still can. True, FB is a great connecting tool, it has both pros and cons and is a great way to share information, but really – saying what you eat, when you pooped, how long you slept are details we can do without.
There is a whole big wide wondrous world out there that is not virtual. Yes, I do get the irony of writing this through a virtual medium. But still…..
Go out and see that world before it is too late.
Live. Laugh. Love. Learn.
You do not have to follow Ross or the message he gives in this simple effective little video. You do not have to focus on how many times he licked his finger. But you can stop an addiction with determination, any unhealthy addiction if you have one.
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
“The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”
– St. Augustine (November 13, 354 – August 28, 430)
(Hey – if this dude Augustine could travel waaaaay back then, what’s your excuse to not get out into the world and away from that computer screen? And by ‘travel’ I don’t mean package tours in Disney resorts, but real, visceral, tangible travel. Good for the bones, good for the brain.)
(2) Is Facebook making some people sadder with too much unrealistic ‘comparing and judging’ or an online version of ‘keeping up with the Joneses’? A Stanford University study –A Slate online article – Here.
Be happy, not envious, for others’ joys. Just. Stop. Comparing. And see how liberating it is. (I haven’t for years after a wise teacher in my school once told the class in junior high – ” Self-improvement starts when you do not compare with others, but compare your self with yourself.”)