“Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.”
– Jane Austen, Pride And Prejudice
Social media like Facebook and Twitter is a cancer that threatens to devour our sense of bearing, grounding and reality. These websites are the ultimate, cynical contraptions of an age that prides itself on democracy and equality, providing an even platform to all regardless of quality of content and intelligence. To those that cannot assemble a hundred words on a topic or string together a coherent, introspective thought without collapsing upon themselves in a heap, Facebook is a godsend allowing them to excrete tiny soundbytes that have all the relevance, and stench, of associated fecal matter. Perversely, these same ejections then attract a like-minded gaggle of sheep (or geese as the right association would be, and apt, too, for all the clacking noise these critters make), reinforcing inferior behaviour in inferior individuals, and perpetuating a vicious self-sustaining cycle. Facebook guarantees you the attention you’re incapable of attracting in any gathering of reasonably smart people; by cutting down geographical separation and manufacturing artificial social communities, you are assured of always being within reaching distance of someone of the same degenerate mindset as you.
One might say that Facebook has its benefits. Lone users say that social media provides them with an easy way of staying in touch with contacts across the globe but the more pertinent question to ask of these types is just how many of their contacts enrich their lives in ways greater than petty voyeurism and schadenfreude. For monetized publications, Facebook serves as a broadcast organ, ensuring that the net is cast far and wide so that the eventual return on investment is as high as possible. This is only practical commercial acumen, as repulsive as it may be to personal sensibilities.
But we managed to survive just fine as individuals before the advent of these sites, didn’t we? Search engines sufficed, so did word of mouth and genuine curiosity. Most importantly, the individual had the relative freedom of making a choice without having it shoved down his throat day in and day out, without him being literally dragged by the scruff of his neck to drink of poisoned waters as it were. Do those that say that Facebook exposes them to variegated content with relative ease, sense the enormous irony prevalent in their defense? If information overload is the curse of the modern world, then sites like Facebook are among the foremost culprits promoting this evil. The only reason one needs to be “exposed to variegated content” is because there’s just so damned much of it in the first place. Previously, a person had a necessarily narrow sphere of interests but they made sure that they went to the most reliable sources to be educated on their trade of choice. This practice has been obliterated by the gratuitously incessant bombardment that social media subjects us to today. Everyone has an opinion, everything is equally legitimate, information filters down piecemeal and mostly inaccurate, and nobody’s the wiser for it.
The thing that annoys me the most, however, lies on a more personal level. Facebook brings out the worst attributes in my character, attributes that I loathe and denounce in others. Facebook protects its primacy by appealing to the basest instincts of the human condition. Nobody is entirely immune to its machinations, as lofty as we may delude ourselves to be, for its clever strategy, old as time itself, is to titillate and gratify and vindicate the ego and its pretensions to grandeur. I have sensed this in myself, as I am sure everybody who uses this website has, too, on a distinct level, and I find it distasteful and disgusting. Facebook is a perfectly animated tableau of the human world at large, but the antics of many of its inhabitants fill me with an extreme disappointment and rage, things that might make for an amusing post every now and then but can only be self-eating in the long run. A ready-made soapbox is convenient and enticing, but sometimes the thing to do when the rot begins to set in is to cut out the infection before it spreads to the heart.