Why am I doing this? Why has it become so important? To what end does it take me?
Why am I wasting my time?
Finally, these are the questions I faced off with on this morning in regard to social media. Specifically, Facebook.
It has become something of an autonomous knee jerk by billions of people across the planet. Wake, roll out of bed, reach for coffee or the cell phone in one order or another. Hell, in some cases, it’s not even “roll out of bed”. I know people who don’t even make THAT much of an effort, instead just reaching to the nightstand, grab the omnipresent portable computer and begin another day basking in the artificial glow of bytes and blowhards.
For a lot of people, that glow was the last thing to bid them adieu into the night. For some, it will be the last thing they ever see. A cold, mindless glow that has wrapped us all in the comfort blanket of “LOOK AT ME!” instead of “allow me to look into my world”.
As a journalist, a story teller, someone who enjoys starting and being involved in a good discourse, I’ve become more than a little addicted to the Facebook Foolery. As a business owner, a public speaker and teacher, one who uses the platform in order to promote my clients and business, I’m always seeking the right way to use this ever-shifting technology.
Heaven knows the various platforms keep changing the rules of engagement, and not to make it all work better. They do so as part of planned obsolescence, ensuring there will always be a new and more dynamic product the consumer must purchase or be left behind in the dust of historic disaster.
But on this day, a change. This was no ordinary day. It began as part of a bad night before, tossed and turned as part of a troubled sleep, awoke badly, and within a short time became a day that will be both long remembered and soon forgotten. A span that began with unwelcome news, the type that will negatively reverberate for quite some time.
One that won’t be tucked away so easily. Ever.
Then, i found myself reaching for it. Just as I had last night, the morning before, and what seemed like several thousand times every day for years past.
On went the smartphone, dialed in the password, and the last screen opened.
Facebook. Only this time, as it is want to do, changing rapidly to the most recent post on my feed.
A picture of an adult dog being roasted on a spit.
It took all I had to stop from slamming the phone into a nearby wall, or dropping it to the ground and grinding it into a million unrecognizable pieces. Of course, it’s not fault of the phone. Yet I wanted someone, something, to pay for that image being the first thing of my day.
As an animal lover, protector and activist, I follow a number of feeds that alert those interested to cruelty, adoptions, stories of hope and, sad to note, stories of immense sadness. They are meant to goad us into doing something, writing something, engaging in the conversation to the point of seeking solutions and solace. This was one yet again pointing to the savagery some nations and people inflict upon dogs, using them as mere food.
Don’t get me started on the debate at this time. I understand it’s part of some “cultures”, and plenty of people would say it’s none of our business,
Bullshit. There is always room for cultural awareness and change. All it takes is the desire to be involved. I do my best, bringing up the conversations. Actually lost several friends over such posts as they were “insulted” I would allow such pictures to be on my feed and, as one person put it, “cause such an affront to my chi”.
Perhaps then, this was karmic payback.
Even then, as repulsed as I was, I still couldn’t put the damn thing down.
I clicked away from the post and then checked the responses and such from overnight. A few continuing arguments, a number of anecdotes, and a gathering of rambling commentaries.
I then started to peruse the various conversations on my feed. That’s when the disheartening feeling of helplessness took over.
Page after page after page of spit, venom, anger, textual shouting. retorts, slams, very few and very rare positive notes. A new day had dawned here on the American East Coast, and few were wasting time digging into the ever-present muck and mire.
Naturally, most, if not all of the trash talk, was centered around politics. What a shock, right?
America has become, at least in my lifetime, the most divisive, hateful, spiteful, openly racist and sexist, easily fooled band of suckers history has ever recorded. The daily manner with which what were once very intelligent people put themselves on display as sycophants and spitballers is mind-numbing.
All due to politics and the pustulent snake oil salespeople at the center.
Downright frightening when you consider this is what we’re leaving for future generations. If when we’re existing as spirits in the next world, we feel something wet on the top of what will pass for a head, don’t be alarmed. That will merely be the spit from those generations giving us our just reward for the mess we left them to clean up. Deserved spittle, as well.
Then I did as I normally would. I waded into some of these conversations, as usually seeking to bring a standard of some relative intelligence to the mix. Of course, there are those who would not nor could not be “spoken to” in such a manner, and the battle was joined.
Where I sought smart thought, some fired back with juvenile idiocy. Where I sought sarcastic wit, it was viewed as little more than insults from those whose daily stock and trade is insult without meaning. Where I believed myself to be finding those little nuggets of normalcy, it didn’t take long for the discussion to descend into the depths of what has become allowable boorishness.
Same idiocy. Different day. Wash, rinse, repeat.
That’s when I sat back. Put down the phone.
Why am I doing this? Why has it become so important? To what end does it take me?
Answers didn’t take long. Likely because I already knew them.
Facebook and social media have become narcotics for a society seeking to escape reality. We go there to find friends and relatives, certainly. We as social creatures need and thrive on interaction. But where there was once personal interaction, it has now been replaced by this plastic keyed, backlit, often anonymous addiction. Often, we do it without even thinking about it.
Making me wonder how many of us ever really think, period.
That head shaking level of missing cogent thought is often obvious in the commentary and level of intelligent discussion. Or lack thereof.
It’s become important because we’ve made it so. We’ve come to rely on it as a way to pass the time, and we’ve conditioned a younger generation they can’t live without it. Sad to note, in many case, we can’t. It’s the only way a large part of the population can seem to even form the slightest of cogent thoughts. Where once there was conversation, there is now 160 characters and emojis.
Save for finding lost relatives, rediscovering old friends and making new ones for good conversation, Facebook and other forms of social media often take me, and a good number of us, down a dark hole that leads to what I referred to earlier as textual screaming.
And when it comes to discussions about politics, which is what dominates the sphere at this moment, we need to be completely honest with ourselves.
It gets us absolutely nowhere.
It is a complete and mysterious waste of time.
Are we not smarter than this? At the very least, are we not supposed to be? If we have such a powerful tool before us and at the ready, should we not be using it for something more meaningful?
Yes. We should.
But can we? Will we?
There is no historic evidence it was actually done or said in this manner during the times of Ancient Rome, but US General George S. Patton was fond of telling this story. A good number of you will recognize it as part of the script from the motion picture “Patton”, with George C. Scott portraying the General.
“For over a thousand years Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of triumph, a tumultuous parade. In the procession came trumpeteers, musicians and strange animals from conquered territories, together with carts laden with treasure and captured armaments. The conquerors rode in a triumphal chariot, the dazed prisoners walking in chains before him. Sometimes his children robed in white stood with him in the chariot or rode the trace horses. A slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory is fleeting.”
The most likely origin of the saying “all glory is fleeting” is from a loose translation of the Latin “Sic transit gloria mundi”, literally “Thus passes the glory of the world“.
In any sense and using any words, it means our time is short on this Earth. Perhaps we can find better ways to use it, than to become ensnared in meaningless banter for the purpose of ego or some false sense of bravado.
The need is renewed to not only actually converse again, but honestly listen.
Coming to a conclusion that not everyone’s opinion is important or meaningful. Being able to shout either in verbal or textual form at a level higher and louder than someone else is neither a sign of intelligence, nor of seeking to have a meaningful conversation.
Facebook and social media is filled with opinions. Many of which, judging by the sources, are unworthy of being scraped from the bottom of the electronic shoe.
Just keep walking right past it. Eventually, it will wear off and cast itself aside. At that time, it is no longer of consequence.
Facebook and every form of social media can be used for positive purposes. They should be. These forms of communication have connected a planet as never before. But unless we strive to use it for the right purposes, it is indeed a galactic waste of time. Not only that, it can become dangerous.
The time has come to start treating the lack of intelligence on social media as no longer of consequence, and no longer worth your precious time.
Be smarter. Use your time wisely. Engage and be a part of something positive.
Engage in a part of something inspiring.