Social networking is far more amazing than people often realize. Perhaps because it has slowly leaked into existence. With the arrival of the internet and email, then sites like livejournal and myspace, and now facebook, the concept has really only evolved with demand, and so it is taken for granted almost as soon as it hits the scene. But think of what we have now. It's something that the world has never had, and few have ever dreamed of. It's not the ability to stay in constant and immediate contact with all of your family, friends, enemies, fans, and miscellaneous faces that you can't place, though that in itself is mind-blowing compared to, say, the pony express. The real value, I believe, is that now, for the first time, almost anyone can keep in touch with the conscious flow of the entire human race. Our collective condition, mood, accepted beliefs, preferences, and dreams can be tapped into, monitored, and contributed to by any citizen of the world with an email account. It is astonishing! Fascinating! Ground-breaking! Earth changing! It's just so.....noisy!
That's why I left facebook. I couldn't take the noise. It was breaking me down. I was glad for a way to keep in touch with old friends, and fascinated by the ability, but for some reason the whole thing felt wrong. Twisted. I held on, though, and happily participated, because in my "offline" life things were a bit stormy. It was difficult to define the source of the storm. Externally, my life was fantastic, and almost always has been aside from a couple of bumps in the road. I could point to a couple of things that I considered lacking, but those could have been easily overcome if I really believed them to be a cause of my deep and burning dissatisfaction. Oh yes, I was dissatisfied. Not with life, or my circumstances, or anything I could point to, but with myself. Over the past few years I've seen myself deteriorate to anger, bitterness, cynicism, even sometimes depression, and I never could but a finger directly on why. I kept it hidden when anyone was around, of course. I could slap a smile and a cheerful demeanor on at a moment's notice.
As I was saying, that's why I continued to play the facebook game, long after I began to find it mysteriously unsettling. It served as another means of distraction; a chance to dance around with the trivialities of life and pretend with everyone else that everything is dandy and we're all having a good time. Slowly an obvious realization began to dawn on me. "Perhaps," I speculated," I'm not the only dissatisfied person on the planet. Perhaps I'm not the only one playing this like a game, and meanwhile just hanging on for dear life." That's when I stopped contributing. I decided to shut up, and watch, and listen. What I finally saw and heard was unsettling. What I finally saw and heard was the truth.
Rising up from beneath the happy, sugar-dusted status updates, the "likes," the LOL's and the smileys, is the rancid stench of mass dissatisfaction. Anger, depression, fear, and misery of all sorts is running through our modern "enlightened" society like a pack of rabid velociraptors, consuming many, sparing just enough to give false hope to the ones who are already being devoured. We are in a serious situation; so serious that very few have the courage to look it in the face, and those that wish to are hushed by the people around them.
We thought that "the answer" could be found in advancement of technology, or pleasure. Now here we are, in a world of magic and power that no one in history ever dreamed of. All appetites can be satiated to the limit almost instantaneously. All the technological marvels of the modern world have become boring and insufficient. Now the human race is running out of things on its "to do" list. The only things that are left are teleportation, time travel, and interplanetary colonization. Sadly, with all of these glorious advances giving the world a new face, people have not changed. Collectively, we are near the pinnacle of what we've thought we could never be. It's the biggest letdown in history. It simply isn't enough.
So this is the real over-arching function of social networking, with all of its legitimate and useful sub-themes. It is a return to the mundane and the trivial, together, to celebrate as many of the "little things" as possible to satisfy a desperate hunger. It is a collection of fans who will give us applause for producing a pulse, because sometimes that's all we feel we can manage. It is a fresh new batch of sand for us all to bury our heads in. We have finally accepted that there is no real truth, and there are no real answers. Fingers in ears, eyes shut tight, we make as much noise as possible to drown out the questions, and we all take part in what we have silently agreed to be the final option: despair.
I couldn't believe in that. I left to kill the noise and to try and find some answers.