Facebook. I’ve had a hard time with it recently. This is nothing new. An issue that’s been going on for years for me, and one that I’m sure others share as well.
A few years back, I actually succeeded in stopping my facebook habit and hardly checked it. But then I started this blog, and figured I should have an online presence and plus I missed hearing about friend’s important life updates. So I went back. And once again got addicted. The past 2.5 years or so have been a back and forth love and hate relationship. I hate the powerlessness I feel to its influence, yet I value the online relationships and connections I’ve been able to make through it.
Why Do We Care About Facebook So Much?
I’ll be honest – the thing about facebook that I dislike the most? The Trend. The trend of everything. Trending topics. Trending opinions. Trending links, shares, images. The pressure to like (and now love, haha, wow, sad, angry) it all. The pressure to be liked (or at least responded to). The self-doubt of not being “on-trend” by your ever-expanding online peer group. Some say this is a teen thing, or a millennial thing, but in reality, it’s an everyone thing.
We’re all part of it. And it sucks.
But I can’t deny that there’s also a lot of good that comes through social media as well.
I really dislike the complexity of the social media world. The grayness. That I can neither fully curse nor revere its existence. Facebook is. And all I can do is choose to do the best I can with what I have and the world I’m in.
So you all know how KP and I are writing a movie? Cause I talk about it constantly right? I know. But I talk about it constantly because my own personal life is constantly affected by it. Though it’s not the time to talk story details here, suffice it to say that it’s given me a lot to think about. About life, death, God, compassion, purpose, publicity, and truth. And I now view all other world events through the lens that I’ve since developed from writing this.
Humanity is complex.
Full of hard questions.
Often without easy answers.
And it does not fit nicely into the bite-sized and simplistic facebook statuses that people attempt to make the world into.
So this is why I have a hard time with facebook. Because of The Trend of it all.
I cannot care about and have an opinion about and agree with or disagree with or comment on or share or like every.single.thing. going on in the world at any given time. And especially not the collectively self-determined “Trending Topics” which include such hard-hitting and contemplative stories about celebrity couples’ lunch plans.
But there is an important question here to ask myself: What SHOULD I care about?
And by extension…what stories should anyone else care about? What’s important enough for us, as world citizens, to give notice too? Humanity is too big and our finite minds will never be able to understand or process or take in every significant or non-significant event that happens in the world. And even then, how are we to comprehend significance? The smallest happenstance can still have the largest – though unacknowledged – far-reaching effect.
Whether good or bad, whether you want to admit it or not, publicity is the only reason why most people care about what they do.
Is it “trending”? Will posting about it make you seem more in-line with, and acceptable to, your social media friends? Does it further your own personal political agenda? Can you use it to spur action toward a cause you’re emotionally invested in? Will it improve your facebook analytics? Your searchability rankings? Will it translate to more clicks to your site, more views, more affiliate conversions…and more money in your pocket?
Why do we (you, I, all of us) care about what we do?
Do we REALLY care about the people in the news story we’re responding to? Or is what we actually care about how we can use the news story to our own benefit in some way?
Full confession: I say all this at a time where my husband and I are writing a script based on a true event, so please know that this is a question I’ve had to honestly ask myself from the very, very beginning of it all. WHY do I care about this? Why have I shed so many tears in the writing process of this story? Is it just because there’s potential for possible future monetary gain for KP and I? Is it just because of the publicity of it all?
Publicity is a powerful and persuasive reality that I am not equipped to challenge on my own. I accept it for what it is.
But I also acknowledge publicity’s influence. And that if we don’t want to lose our sense of humanity, that we must individually hold ourselves accountable to COMPASSION FOR OTHERS as our true impetus for our social media reactions.
I know that I might not individually have much influence in the world from this blog’s tiny corner of the web – or even the hopeful larger corner our script might occupy someday if it gets the chance – but I can still strive to have some sort of influence.
At least in my own community. And through the events that I’m personally connected to and personally affected by, and where I live and the people I daily interact with.
Isn’t that all we ever can do? If we feel truly affected by the things we see and read in the news, let’s turn those emotions NOT into some manner of personal gain, but instead into compassion for our own neighbor. To those that we can truly most effect.
There’s a lot of hard stuff in the world. I alone cannot change or make a difference in this. No one can.
All we can ever do is the best that we can do with what we’ve been privileged to be given in life.
We’re all people. Even those you don’t get along with. Even those who make facebook posts you disagree with. Even those with different political agendas from you. Even if you think they are 100% wrong and would rather just ignore them and hide their posts or kick them out of your facebook group because they seem “mean”.
Yes, even the sick or poor or annoying ones. We don’t have to agree on everything all the time, and that’s ok (though I bet that with open-minded kindness we’d realize that we agree on more than not… and we could probably amicably work out productive solutions instead of starting facebook wars, but I digress.).
Compassion is the ultimate measure of our humanity. I just hope we don’t lose ourselves to caring about others only if/when it most benefits us – or looks the coolest for us – to do so.
For more, also see this post of mine from 2 yrs ago:
Celebrity, Worldwide Influence, and Robin Williams
(Also, if the facebook “Trending” section bothers you too, check out FB Purity. It looks kind of spammy, but it’s actually legit. I’ve been using it for a few weeks. You can shut off the trending section of your facebook homepage as well as make other customizations. Basically, it’s the only thing still keeping me on facebook at the moment!)