We all need validation sometimes. Some of us more than others. Today, more than ever, we feel that, paradoxically, we need to be both the same and different as the rest of society. We are told to conform but be unique. We are taught that we need to fit in to be successful, but also that the successful are those who went out and did something different. We are told that we need to dress a certain way, following the trends of fashion as they change in a random and arbitrary manner. We are bred to think that the ultimate life is a life where we live in a suburb in a large house with two to three kids, a car for each spouse, and a career. We are gauged by how much money we earn. We are told that it is bad to earn too much, but you will not be happy unless you break another arbitrary amount. We often do not know exactly what these amounts are or what society wants from us, but we have vague impressions.
As a result of this confusion that we live with, we often feel perplexed and unsure of ourselves. As we get older and find that our lives are not in conformity with this ideal, or with how we imagined ourselves as turning out, we start to feel anxiety and perhaps even anger. We look at other people in society, and those who we were close to at one time. Did our classmates make it? Did our cousins and friends make it? Am I ahead of them? And one way in which we gauge our competition is through (a)social networking.
It is easy to feel that your life does not hold up against your peers when you log onto sites such as Facebook. You are immediately thrust into a fantasy world where pictures of imaginary lives bombard you. You are thrown into a world where people are competing with each other constantly, trying to maintain one's own self image and self-esteem. It's a contest in self-validation that every poor soul who is a prisoner on Facebook is deeply involved in.
It's hard to see it when you are busy living it. But when you step away from the site and consider it with an open mind, you will start to understand that Facebook was indeed a place that confirmed many of our self-created fears about our lives and what we were "supposed" to obtain.
Facebook is a smorgasbord of competition without purpose. We are taught that there are always people in society who will "make it" and others who will not "make it." But we are not told exactly what "making it" is. Therefore, as a result, we go with our own vague impressions of what "making it" is. We post pictures of us "making it," whatever that means. These are pictures of the events we take in, our possessions (homes, cars, spouses, children, pets), our likes, our wants, our lifestyles, and anything that we do that is above the norm.
Being proud of one's accomplishments is not a bad thing. Bragging about them incessantly over the internet is. Facebook bragging quickly becomes something of an obsession. I have known people who have bought new pets, later to be neglected, for reason to show off on (a)social networking sites. People will show off anything they can when the obsession reaches critical levels. Pictures of clothing, food, children's clothing, etc. are things that I have seen posted. Is such behavior normal? I don't particularly like to use the term normal, as humanity is varied in many ways, and it is the irregularities that make people wonderful (Facebook helps destroy these irregularities). The better question is, "would the individual, if I went to their house, show me a full spread of their new clothing, or the food that they cooked last night?" Before Facebook I never received an e-mail from a person showing me the contents of their plate. I was never sent a picture of a meal from a restaurant by any of my friends. Yet now, on Facebook, such behavior is commonplace. I had a multitude of friends who would take a picture of their food and show it off. I was one of those people.
Eventually, I stepped back and realized that there was something seriously wrong with this activity. I was spending a lot of time, my life, involved in this activity. I was spending my life merely validating myself as a human. I should not have to validate myself over the computer. I should not, as a human, have to validate myself to anyone. I am my own person. What I want out of life is personal to me. I should not feel compelled to search for some vague idea that society seems to instill in me. Yet, when I was on Facebook I noticed that I was not the only person searching for this life. Virtually everyone I knew had these wants and desires that they searched for, and pretended to have achieved, but were, in reality, not moving toward them. Their lives, in the end, were at a standstill, as if they were trapped in one time period. And that time period was the moment they let Facebook control their lives.
I recently downloaded a new alarm clock program for the iPad. It got favorable reviews, and I wake up early for school. I was horrified to find out that the alarm clock had an option to wake you up and have you logged in to both Facebook and Twitter so that you could start your day with your Facebook and Twitter feeds. There is a problem when a person becomes so obsessed with (a)social networking that they have to have these sites be the first thing that they see every day. Is it that important to feel liked and accepted to others?
Are you really willing to trade your life for (a)social networking?
It is truly sad to see people wasting what could be called "the best years of their lives" on these sites. How many people die every year driving while trying to check their status updates on these sites? How many people would forgo time with their families to use (a)social networking sites? I am always amazed to see people, every day, in class using Facebook instead of listening to the lectures that they are paying (or will be paying) thousands of dollars to attend. What is the price of being obsessed to these sites? What are we, as a society, paying, in sum, for people to completely live their lives addicted to (a)social networking? Many laugh at such a message, saying that such sites are harmless, but when they become such an obsession with not just people in this country, but around the world, there is an epidemic. When people have to see Facebook first thing when they awaken, when they drive, when they are in class, and lastly, right before they go to bed, there is a problem. When a person virtually lives their life, wasting years, on (a)social networking, you have to kind of wonder, what is the point of life. You have to ask, "what good comes out of these sites?" In the end, I have never been able to find much that these sites give back to the world.
What has Facebook given you? What have you achieved since signing up from Facebook? Have you left, later to find out that your life has progressed since leaving Facebook behind? Has Facebook interfered with your life goals? Has it made you feel happier with your life? Would you go back to a world without (a)social networking?