Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Why Are We Surrending Our Humanity to the Machine?

Facebook is a poor communication device. No tonal inflection, no human connection makes it impossible to differentiate between jokes, kind words, harsh words, or simple communications. I find myself asking how many people's feelings need to be hurt and how many friendships need to be ruined and lost because of a post or Facebook message that was misunderstood before we start to realize that Facebook is stealing our humanity from us. I might sound crazy but hear me out. When was the last time some of you reached out directly to someone as in called or texted them and them only to see if they were even alive? How many of us use our phones constantly at home or with friends instead of paying attention solely to the ones we are spending time with?

We tell ourselves we can multitask but less than 10 years ago it would have been considered rude and selfish to not put the phone down when you are with someone. I have offended people in the past by focusing on texts I was receiving instead of conversing with a person I was visiting. Now its common place but I personally have been awakened to think it is rude and selfish. I myself have been at fault and within the last year completely changed my habit. You know why I am hard to reach by phone? Because its not glued to my hand. Its usually in another room plugged in. We have a rule at my house that no phones at the table. We eat dinner at the table with each other instead of in front of a TV and my relationship is better for it.

I have personally experienced so many times a simple communication getting blown out of proportion because the individual reading it put their own spin on my words and then reacted negatively without asking for further clarification outside of Facebook. I too am guilty of this. I am taking steps to fix it because I recognize its a common problem.

Why is it so hard to pick up the phone or stop by to see someone we love? If our lives are so busy that we can't make face or voice time for all the people in our life then maybe we need to rethink our priorities. Facebook is about as feeling as a robot and its idea of friendship is false. As of today I have 1,245 friends. That's ridiculous and it would be next to impossible to have a personal deep meaningful relationship with every single one of them. That number is there simply to pad my ego and give me a false sense of importance and purpose but I guarantee its a ruse. There aren't 1245 persons thinking of me daily like Facebook would lead me to believe. Its arrogance and hubris for me to even think so. We are all equals. We are all people. We have built all these trappings to give a false sense of importance but its all centered around the idea that what makes us important is being better than the other guy. It isn't real. No one is better than the next guy. Not the rich, not the accomplished, not the educated. We are all people.

I think we need to focus on why we need things like Facebook to give us that sense of importance. We were fine without it before- how has it made our world better? I mean better- not easier. Friendship isn't easy. Nobody said it should be easy. Its a selfish desire to expect any relationship to lack effort. If you need it to be easy then that relationship has no value. What makes a friend valued is the hardships experienced by both to make it work and that in that we are showing someone the depth of our love. What would be more meaningful- a "Happy Birthday" facebook post or a surprise visit from a friend with cake, card, roses and a banner that said "Happy Birthday"? It's that easy to see the difference but we can't see the forest for the trees.

Facebook lacks the very essence that makes us human. Our touch, our voice, our love, and compassion. Our purpose on this planet is to impact others in a good way. What kind of impact are we leaving? Its a rhetorical question meant to be food for thought. I challenge the reader to a technology fast. Put the phone down for a few days and go do something with a good friend or lover. Note the richness of the experience when you aren't distracted by all that buzz.

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