For a long time now, ever since I have been on Facebook and had many people mostly from my past, friends or not, send me “friend” requests, I have been feeling a vague distaste for this whole social networking culture. That still small voice has been nagging away at the back of my consciousness and I’m finally starting to sit up and take notice. Why does Facebook creep me out? Here is a start:
My friends list is basically a graveyard of people I have had some interaction with in the past, some memorable, some wholly forgettable. And after they request to add me as a “friend”, there is little or no further interaction forthcoming from them, even ON Facebook! So this whole adding-as-friend business seems to me to be a subtle kind of mutual voyeurism agreement – you peek into my social world and I’ll peek into yours, with a still more subtle connotation of “and then let’s see who is cooler”.
Everything you join, do or say reflects on the newsfeed that all the “friends” get to see – so everything that you say or do or join, you do with an eye for how it will look, how it will affect my “cool factor”. Quite a Danse Macabre of the ego.
In a recent discourse to His students, Baba said, “I wish that you all be very careful in your contacts and relations with others. If possible, dump your cell phones in a well. You will be happy and peaceful. Better you don’t acquire them at all! Even if you acquire one, establish contact and connection with only those with whom it is desirable. Do not develop unnecessary and undesirable contacts with others. By developing such contacts, you gather news from all and sundry and pass it on to others. Ultimately, you will end up as Narada, poking your nose in all sorts of things. You will not only spoil your mind with unwanted things but spoil the minds of others too! Why all this unpleasantness? Is it not because of your unwanted and undesirable telephonic contacts? Hence, be careful and earn a good name for yourself, your parents, and the institution in which you are studying.”
He’s talking about cellphones, but He has also described Facebook to a “T”! The message here is more than clear. In a nutshell, Facebook turns you into a Narada of the worst kind!
Eckhart Tolle once said in an interview – “Transcending the world does not mean to withdraw from the world, to no longer take action, or to stop interacting with people. Transcendence of the world is to act and interact without any self-seeking. In other words, it means to act without seeking to enhance one’s sense of self through one’s actions or one’s interaction with people.”
Now we’re doing precisely that in Facebook – seeking to enhance one’s sense of self through one’s actions (like joining groups after seeking what you want to identify with out there) or one’s interactions with people (commenting, peeking into profiles, writing on walls, relentlessly acquiring “friends”)!!
Someone once said that your past is the ultimate delusion, and Facebook keeps one nicely anchored in that delusion. And it’s so insidious that you don’t realize it at first. On the surface it is most innocent, hail-fellow-well-met and all that, just keeping in touch with people, what can be nicer? But underneath, your ego is just feasting off the whole thing, reveling in self-preoccupation, muddying your mind with an explosion of unnecessary thoughts and emotions, and taking you far away from the Here and Now. When Here and Now is where life is.
Social networking for the sake of social networking is an ego prop I no longer want to burden myself with.
Facebook, in my particular case, was not exactly having a beneficial effect in my life. It has me addicted to trivialities that do not even concern me, and wasted much of my time and energy. Time waste is life waste as Baba succinctly puts it. Hence the decision to leave it.
Besides, the friends I want to keep in touch with I will continue to do so through email, twitter, my blog, meetings and interactions in the real world, phone, etc. What is the point of moving the whole thing to a public platform? And even if one keeps a firm leash on who is allowed in, there are gradations of friendship even with the bunch you allow in and in the end what you share on FB boils down to the lowest common denominator. No rich one-on-one interactions, no depth. In my experience, FB is doing nothing to enhance my relationships, and actually added some negative factors in my daily life as described in the post, so I decided to pull the plug.
I’m not deleting the account just yet; I may check in a couple of times a week to see if there are any direct messages – but for the most part, my real friends will find me at www.twitter.com/barefoot_chuck, www.barefootchuck.wordpress.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, and can always call me on the phone.
~ Chuck (no longer on FB) Pruitt
~~~ barefoot chuck