Thursday, February 3, 2011

Mr. Zuckerberg and The New Viscious Circle

There's a creeping sickness in this world. It has infected people I know, knew and might meet in the future. It's the breaking of two of Moses' commandments. Mostly, from an anecdotal view, it's people not being good enough because they can't get over high school.

I like the internet. I really like social media. I abhor facebook. What I like about the internet and the social media network is the ability to communicate to people from different walks of life. This article, based on a Stanford University study, is mind numbingly frustrating.

The article, while interesting and well written, is quite heavy. You are reading my blog for quick information and some pithy commentary. Long story short, is the headline of the piece Why Facebook Makes Us Sad. Really? A website, albeit, a multibillion dollar one made even more popular by an academy award nominated film (please, Lord, do not let it win), makes people sad? According to people smarter than me and a few of you, it sure does. In my experience Facebook also makes people covetous, mean, paranoid, bossy, bullying, and crazy.

Everyone, regardless of their high school and or college experiences can relate to the politics of their teenage years. Hormones combined with gossip combined with ill adjusted socializing teenagers not equipped to deal with their emotions make for tough times. The theory, and unfortunately, it is only a theory, is by adulthood, you get over it and become secure in who and what you are. That perfect world doesn't exist.

The article highlights the paradox Facebook creates. People's pages are represented by the positive aspects of their existence. Everyone is chipper, has cute kids, their pictures are nice, and even when there is drama in their life, it's accompanied by a "like" button. There is no "dislike". That's not how the real world works. People don't get to see the ups and downs of every day life of their high school nemesis or college crush. Only the positives. As a result the same envy, jealousy and political trauma that existed 10 to 20 years ago bubbles to the surface like an eye of newt in a witch's brew.

Facebook, in my opinion, also reveals the worst aspect of the human condition; the belief that self worth is calculated through what others have. This is the most disturbing thing. I can't explain how many negative experiences I have had, seen, heard about or just known through negative social media, both myspace and Facebook of people who used it to justify their bad character traits. Listen, is Facebook, all bad? Of course not. I had it from August 2008 (preparing for my 20th high school reunion) til March 2010. I got in touch with several people I genuinely missed, like my childhood friend Barry, who comments this blog and my twitter account. The greed, materialism, Tiger mom attitudes, infidelity, and keeping up way too much with the Joneses was scary.

My wife still has her facebook page. She is a video game aficionado and likes the applications on Facebook for gaming. I appreciate her hobby. I know that some people use Facebook to organize events, enlighten people to causes, and create positive friendships. Unfortunately, as the study in the above article shows, Facebook also makes people emotionally unstable in ways they just never should be.

"Twitter makes me like people I’ve never met and Facebook makes me hate people I know in real life"
Is a quote from the twitter account of @ShaylaMaddox from a few months  ago. That was made into a popular blog post here:

I wish I could have created the words above but someone else was a lot more clever and prophetic. I have made every mistake in the book in my internet "career" But I never poked anyone and I never used the word Facebook are a verb. Maybe I'm placing too much credence in the fact that my experience with this blog and my twitter account have been 99 percent positive. I do know this, I graduated high school almost 23 years ago. The only time I felt like I was back there was the year or so I had Facebook.

Bottom lining my point of view; I wish the people I enjoy online and I could hang out once a week and have deep, interesting, fun, involved, intelligent conversations; like a modern version of the Algonguin Roundtable (google Mrs. Parker and the Viscious Circle. The movie is boring.) That can't happen, unless we all moved to Manhattan and started drinking and smoking.  Wow, now I wonder if Dorothy Parker were alive today would she follow me on twitter or comment my blog? The infection has set in with me, apparently.

I don't want to be poked, prodded, conjoled, guilt tripped, cliqued, bullied, grouped, told, or made to socialize. I want to communicate. It's why I blog. It's why I tweet. It's why I talk. The creator of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg was looking to stalk a girl and get over on his frenemies when he html'd his way into 500 million people's lives. I just don't want any part of that.

Today's song is one of my personal favorite. The Crown Prince of sardonic wit, and one of my songwriting idols, Elvis Costello, wrote "What's So Funny About Peace Love And Understanding" about his disconnection from the people he grew up with. He joked that the song made him a lot of new friends in the arts community and pissed off all the old friends he had back home. I wouldn't be surprised if this blog did the same for me.


  1. Well, I don't think that's controversial! I think it's absolutely true. I am a reformed FB addict. I do share some stuff because I try not to let everybody know I'm on twitter (like MIL, parents, people I don't really like, people I like to talk about...) but it IS a very vicious cycle. It doesn't show true colors, true emotion, etc. It's ALL a vicious cycle. Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc. It NEVER goes away. Once something's out there... it's OUT THERE! Nice work, man!

  2. I think this is so true! I often debate on whether
    Or not to delete my fb account. Maybe I should man up and delete it.

  3. do it Elizabeth!

    thanks jana, can't believe I lost sleep over posting this

  4. I can't move to NY- hate cold weather but I do like the idea of hanging out in some hotel bar/lobby batting around ideas and thoughts.

  5. Facebook has turned the internet into a virtual popularity contest. We all want attention so we'll send out a status update that we 'stumped our toe" and then wait by the computer to see how many people respond or 'like' it. Thereby making us feel better about ourselves and thinking that we must be loved they responded "so sorry, ((hugs))" I think I might vomit just writing this.

    It's totally pathetic.

    I've been to the Algonquin Hotel....they use to have a cat the roamed the premises. Things probably dead by now.

  6. I hate Facebook, too. I had an old account and deleted it and lost friends, real life friends, over deleting it. They told me that if I delete my FB account, that meant I didn't care enough about their lives. My argument back is that if I had never had an account in the first place, would they feel the same way?

    I have a FB account again, but I don't use it to stay in touch with friends and family. It's simply for business. If I care about a friend, I'll call or email, not check their Facebook status.

  7. perfect Jen. We are on the same level. My friend Barry and I were mentioning the same communication sitch you just commented. If you want to talk to someone, really talk to them....not "facebook" them.

  8. You are spot on, Lance. I'm surprised you were fretting about this one! The danger in Facebook or really any first person once removed electronic communication is that people start using them as their main means of contact, displacing human contact. There is no fear, humility, love, and sometimes even humanity in electronic communication. People can, and oftentimes do, throw good common sense to the wind when the only feedback they need to worry about is delayed and impersonal.

    Being an online gamer (yes, my name is Barry and I'm addicted to FPSs and MMOs .. if that is foreign to you, be glad!) I see it all of the time. Being in the tech biddness and having ample opportunity to pigeon hole conversation to a screen and keyboard, I have also been guilty of it myself. As not to be guilty of it again, I will stop there, but you and I are definitely on the same page, Lance. If you care about people, interact with people, not their computers or phones.

    I'm thankful for the opportunity FB has given me to reconnect with friends, but I'm also not going to let it be the ONLY way I will stay connected.

  9. Okay I may be one of the only people to disagree but agree. Let me explain. I work in social media and am the admin to my employer's facebook page, which is connected to my personal page. I joined FB in 2004, near the end, so I've been on it a while. I've seen it change and grow and there was one time (before I got this job) that I was really addicted to it.
    Now that I am on it for work, it's work to me, not so much fun as well, being nosey. I like to be able to keep up with people I've known or grew up with but not have to see them in person. For example, a chic I went to hs with recently had twins. I don't hang out with her anymore but that doesn't mean I'm not happy for her. So I sent her a congrats message on FB. I feel that I've connected with her and it makes us both happy.
    Has it taken over my life? In a way. Do I check it all the time? Yes but I do it mostly b/c I want to see what's happening on my admin wall.

    But if it weren't for FB I would have never reached out to the Viking - bonus. And if it weren't for FB I wouldn't be so paranoid about hackers and phishing. (In my line of work if something gets jacked up, I can't do my job!)

    Anyway, point is, its a necessary evil at times but I've also formed some great relationships through it. I agree, I tend to hang out more with the people on Twitter in social setting but they're two different animals with two different purposes.

    I liked the Social Network by the way. It made me feel like I was watching home movies of my child. :)

    Insightful post Lance, keep it up

  10. good post Jen. I was trying to figure out what you did for a living. Things make sense with you now. We agree to disagreem but glad you find positivity with THe Facebook

  11. Facebook, like ANYTHING in life, is what YOU choose to make it.

    I see Facebook as a very positive thing if, as the old cliche puts it, you keep it all in moderation.

    My take on Facebook -

  12. While I think you make some good points, I think that you are over-generalizing. Yes, a lot of people do use FB in this way, but not everyone.

    Many of my friends are scattered all over the world and we all have very busy lives, and so the traditional ways of keeping in touch - phone calls, letters/emails, etc. - simply aren't realistic. For my self and many of my friends (and I imagine for many other people out there in the ether), it is simply the best way to keep in touch. We post news and pictures of what's going on in our lives like everyone else, but we also have lively debates and discussions via FB as well.

    I have also amassed a large number of writer friends in the last few years, many of whom are local, and most of us use FB as a networking tool. We post writing news, link to publications and websites we want to share, and post readings and other events.

    Like anything, I think it depends on how one chooses to use it. I see FB as a wonderful tool to help me keep in touch in an ever-expanding sphere of influence. It's like a drug, like vicoden or maybe percocet; for the person in pain, it provides great relief, filling a specific need and purpose, but if abused or used poorly, it can become addictive and wreak havoc.

  13. Thanks, Erin. I touched a nerve or something because I have heard from several people like you. My experience with facebook has been negative. I am glad you have found something positive with it and thank for reading and commenting the post.