“Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?”
Save for some personal messages and a brief post for my dad on Father’s Day, I have stayed off Facebook for the past seven days. This is the longest I have been Facebook-free since joining the social media platform many moons ago, back in the olden times of 2009. My time away from cyber life has led me to a simple, but disturbing, conclusion:
Slowly but surely, Facebook is ruining all of our lives.
I’ll get to how I figured this out in a minute, but first, let me catch you up to date on my activities from the past week. I hung out with my wife, my daughter, and my stepkids. We went to a restaurant. We swam in the pool and suntanned. We watched a bunch of Robert De Niro movies and a few episodes of “Twin Peaks.” Yesterday, my daughter and I had a lovely float down the Comal River. I took my dog to the vet. I drank a few bottles of wine. I smoked some cigarettes. We ate food. We slept. We got up.
What I didn’t do is more to my point about Facebook. I didn’t treat every single activity of my life as a photo shoot. I didn’t take any selfies, and then spend several minutes editing the images on my phone so the album would look really fun and interesting while the fun and interesting stuff was still going on. I didn’t offer a play-by-play description of my reactions to watching a Robert De Niro movie. I just watched the movie. I didn’t follow the news much, or bother to share my pithy thoughts on the political events of the day. I didn’t offer any unsolicited life advice. I didn’t emote or humble-boast. I didn’t worry about letting everyone know that my kid and I were going down the river. Instead, we just did it. I marveled at how much my daughter has grown, as we cracked each other up and talked about all kinds of cool stuff, while the gnarly river trees hanging over the banks quietly watched us bobbing by. Mostly, what I didn’t do is think about my life as a online TV show where I am the star, the director, and the editor. I didn’t consider my daily activities as being anything worthy of sharing online because, frankly, they’re not.
I did notice, however, just how many people have started taking their phones with them on the river. Someone who is now a millionaire has designed carrying pouches with clear plastic fronts for cell phones, so you can now take selfies and go on Instagram while tubing. Dozens of people, floating down God’s river in the glistening sunshine and the singing of birds, all staring at their phones. Oblivious to the beauty of the world around them. I found this really freaking depressing.
What was once a pretty cool way to reconnect with old friends, check up on your exes, and see cats doing really weird shit has now become a loud, mean, crowded room where everyone, myself included, is screaming, “Look at me! Look at me!” And yet no one is listening. No one cares. It’s all about the LIKES and SHARES, and the rush of dopamine squirting though our skulls whenever we feel validated by our own self-serving horse manure.
In other words, we are posting life, not living it.
And that is how Facepuke is ruining us all.
Like any addiction, being away from it for a week felt strange for the first day or so, but then it quickly became a cleansing experience. By not going online, I realized how much time I waste staring at my goddamned phone for no good goddamned reason. Jumping Jesus, think about it. You’re probably staring at your phone right now, reading this blog.
I had a bizarre dream last night that illustrates my point. I was sitting at a long table, having dinner with a bunch of my friends, mostly my Kerrville friends (also known as ‘Kerrverts’). Kinky Friedman was there, as well as my buddy, Gordon ‘Big G’ Ames, and my friends, Kent Perkins and Ruth Buzzi. At the head of the table sat my hero, Groucho Marx. He was the 1970’s Groucho, with the horn-rimmed glasses and the black beret. While Groucho was telling old stories and jokes, I was worrying about how I was going to get him to take a selfie with me. After all, no one will believe me that I had dinner with Groucho Marx unless I post a picture!
As everyone was laughing and having a good time with the old comedian, I kept bugging him for a picture. In the dream, I don’t remember anything he was saying, only that I was obsessing on posting a selfie with him. This seemed to annoy the hell out of him. The last thing I remember about the dream was Groucho standing up, turning his back to me, and farting.
Seriously. He farted.
Not sure what I’m trying to say other than maybe we need to start getting back into our real lives and not worrying so much about the cyber world. For myself, I think I’m going to be posting less, unless it’s a job-thing or it’s really freaking interesting, and that’s a pretty rare thing in this life. I think the best parts of the journey are maybe the little things, the dull things, the small moments not worthy of posting. Like eating pizza with your kid. Or telling someone you love them. Or farting, in general.
Or maybe, for me, Facebook is now like a lot of clubs and organizations I wouldn’t join because, in the words of Groucho, “they would have me as a member…”
Take the red pill, Neo.
Jesus loves you and so do I,