Some things change

.. read between the lines, I don’t get to say this often. It’s not about me.

               I’ve nursed a massive headache last night, so bad it actually woke me up. No, it wasn’t a hangover or something similar, it was the result of staying awake for 24 hours then going to bed for a couple of 2 hour rounds in the next 12 hours. Yea, I’m weak. Seriously now, I drove about 800 kilometers to some place I don’t like. So I woke up, gobbled up a few painkillers and went back to sleep. I might mention I don’t like pain, but that’s a bit redundant. Which is why I’m now all pumped up and without something to bitch about. But my wife called me weak, so now I’m full of righteous fury on the inside. Nobody likes to be called weak when plagued by the headache of the decade. Which reminds me, why exactly are we expecting a confirmation of something obvious?

               I knew my head hurt, I knew just keeping my head up and eyes open was a bigger challenge than learning Vbasic.NET, so why was I so bloody angry when somebody else dismissed my discomfort so easily? I mean, it was a big deal to me and on that subject my opinion was the one that mattered, right? Then I was weak, but not because of that but because mere words offended me.. Sounds about right?

               Few people think about it. In my case, it looks as if my opinion, in my head, mattered less than her opinion. Like in social media, where everybody’s “required” to “like” everybody else. No “likes”, you’re not a person. An “unperson” or whatever, if you’re into that Orwellian stuff. If I’m offended, it might mean I’m insecure, that I believe others have the right to debate my personal perception. It might help to know the context of this brief exchange that led to me sleeping on the couch, but I don’t feel it’s relevant – I’m not debating that particular event, I’m trying to make sense of the broad picture. Do we feel we have to ask for confirmation? Is that some sort of social rule?

               What would you say if after stating how you felt then, somebody else told you that you aren’t supposed to feel that way? Let’s say hunger, for instance. “I’m hungry”, says Pete. “You just ate 2 hours ago”, says Margaret, “you can’t eat now, there’s some deliveries to be made”. Would you argue that? Or would you suck it up and eat after you’ve done your chores? What’s the right way to reason here?

               I don’t think most people would disregard their particular situation and try to prove themselves. If hungry, they’d postpone eating because the opinion of the other person mattered more. I may be wrong here, though if the feeling is big enough they may not choose to disregard it. Probably.

               So why then is social media so beloved? Why is facebook used more than the direct approach? Is it because people can then claim to have friends when the last time they met was months ago? Is it because it validates their existence? I mean, I can count my friends on the fingers of my hand and I don’t use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or whatever else there is.. Does that mean I’m not a person? Disregarding third party content like viral videos, funny pictures, news and those almost always fake celebrity quotes, what else is there?

               I’ve got baby pictures, wedding pictures, vacation pictures, bragging rights and attention-seeking posts – nothing else. Does that strike you as social bonding? How is that socializing? Can’t it be something like proving you exist? It looks that way to me..

               Few people are so sure of their reality, I’ve met a few myself, that put their own opinion, their own feelings above others. Not one of them uses social media, though. If they say something, it’s because they think it’s that way and nothing but the truth can change their minds, so why aren’t the rest of us that way? If we were as certain of our reality as they are, what use is social media?

               Can’t be too crazy to think of a world where we can’t hide behind symbolic gestures, can I now? Words are tools, ways to convey meaning, but what if words weren’t allowed to override our personal identity? It might be the right way to live. I can’t compare myself to Einstein or Bohr, but I should be able to spot the bullshit a mile away – if people ask me why I can’t do something and point out other people who did it, I could tell them to make those people do it. I mean, it’s some brain teaser there.. It’s a manipulation. If people ask me why I can’t sleep just 2 hours a day because Napoleon apparently could, I might feel I was supposed to prove them right just because I’m like Napoleon or something. There, I think I’ve got it. If my identity is not stable, set in stone or whatever else metaphor you might want to use, comparing me to somebody else (famous or at the very least, the person doing the comparing) would prompt me to prove myself in their eyes, to avoid them having a less favorable opinion of me. It might be good to do a background check on the whole issue – I don’t think Napoleon ever drove 800 kilometers on country roads after a week of sleeping badly. Context helps, apparently.

               Of course, if I know exactly who I am and why I am this way, there’s no need to fake it. Only by faking it I’m actually never in the position to know who I am. If social media is the way to go, there’s no real need to develop a solid identity, I rely on external helpers to define it, I keep faking it. Ever wonder what would happen if Facebook died? I don’t have to, it’s dead to me. The only thing that needs work is my core, my self. And apparently, I’m not doing such a terrific job at it..

Post scriptum:

               There’s more than one need satisfied by social media, I know. It offers a way to trick the brain that you’re doing something that needs to be done, either by sharing sad stories of people in need of money or “raising awareness” for cancer, global warming or whatever – as opposed to actually donating money or reducing your waste. How many people from the mass of “reblogging”, “sharing” or “liking” actually donate to those worthy causes? It also offers a way to disconnect from the real life you’re avoiding, in exactly the same way World of Warcraft or other MMO games are doing it – they’re rewarding you for playing, as opposed to life kicking you in the shins when you’re already on the floor, in pain. It’s mind over … matter..

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