Lesson Learned from Facebook

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January 20, 2019 by lucieromarin

The funniest thing about signing up for Facebook – which momentous thing I did one year ago, and how time flies when you’re reading rubbish – was all the teenagers who said, “Facebook? Who even uses Facebook anymore? Facebook is for old people.”

Alas! All that mental and moral anguish over an experiment that was, apparently, as pointless as agonising over whether or not to use my grandmother’s cookbook for dinner! For there is anguish involved in any experiment that confronts the possibility that you obeyed false teaching for over a decade of your life. When the authority figure renounces his own teaching, the result, for the believer, is not like, “Hey! He totally doesn’t believe that stuff he preached for so long! Well screw him, then – neither do I!” No, the believer is confronted with two awful possibilities. One is that he was lying the whole time – in which case, why was he allowed to preach this stuff at all and what else are we listening to week and week out which will also prove not to be true? The other is that he was preaching the truth, but he’s now either a hypocrite or a psychological basket-case. If this is so, am I still obliged to practise that which he no longer preaches? It’s really awful. If you’ve been under obedience, then his renunciation of his teaching is like having someone rip apart your brain, toss it on the concrete, and then walk away saying, “Make of that what you will.” My director inveighed against Facebook, against made-in-China, against jeans, against supermarkets, against ‘taking the path of least resistance’, and he preached entire sermons in favour of the 30-day rule. Then he was caught out, and it all evaporated. How did it become okay for him for his own babies to have a digital footprint? Facebook was the death blow. He really was gone.

So, yes, wading into the swamp of narcissism was, for me, a way of freeing myself from him. It was a way to test whether or not I could disobey and survive. Who have predicted that?

Facebook has taught me some interesting things about folk. One is that the people who are adamant that you should Get With It and Join and Make a Difference are the people who never, ever engage with your posts, whereas those who were entirely indifferent to your presence or absence suddenly connect, write interesting comments, post engaging things of their own, and are generally pleasant and kindly. Another is that the people who, in real life, forget to reply to your text message, sorry, they’ve been really busy and they meant to say thanks for the birthday present but they forgot, sorry, life has been crazy, still have time to post six or seven memes a day. The most astonishing are those who think that others will change their political or religious opinions because of something they’ve written in a string of comments. This boggles my mind. A sub-class of this category are those who think that insult is going to be in some way convincing or productive. It’s really weird. It’s as though the screen has messed with their minds.

I’ve been forced to accept that a demon of pride lurks within us all. The first time I saw the It’s-Ash-Wednesday memes I thought – why do you think anyone needs to you remind them that it’s Ash Wednesday? I felt as humble and as insightful as St Therese. Then one of my best friends in the whole world wrote something stupid in a thread, and I lost it, and launched every flame-thrower in my arsenal at her, as though she needed to be burned to unrecognisable charcoal because she’d written ten words that annoyed me. So much for that.

The anniversary of my foray into social media was marked by a cautious step into Instagram. Within an hour of signing up, my feed was flooded with pictures of cute babies, photogenic young couples, New York in winter, and cute babies in New York apartments in winter being nestled by photogenic couples. Apparently social media exists to remind us of all the things we’re not and don’t have. I can only wonder at the clairvoyant stalker privacy-stealing algorithm hacker that worked these things about me on the strength of my email address and a few Facebook crochet pictures. Yesterday, it greeted me with an image of bound dogs tossed in a pile awaiting slaughter. I have no idea what that was about.

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