On May 15, I introduced Stephen Marche’s cover story in the current edition of The Atlantic entitled, “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” (May 2012, pp. 60-69). Today marks my final post on that very interesting and insightful article. It certainly has given us much to think about when it comes to our world’s engagement with Facebook. If you haven’t yet read the article, I highly recommend you do. The link is at the bottom of this post.
In Marche’s concluding thoughts about Facebook’s psychological and emotional power, he accurately captures the essence of the struggle into which many people fall:
”Our omnipresent new technologies lure us toward increasingly superficial connections at exactly the same moment that they make avoiding the mess of human interaction easy. . . . But the price of this smooth sociability is a constant compulsion to assert ones own happiness, ones own fulfillment. Not only must we contend with the social bounty of others; we must foster the appearance of our own social bounty. Being happy all the time, pretending to be happy, actually attempting to be happy–it’s exhausting.” (p. 68)
With these thoughts in mind, and reflecting on Marche’s entire article, here are my takeaways:
1—Don’t expect Facebook to fill the voids in your life you should be filling yourself. Facebook is not a religion, philosophy, 12-step program, psychologist, counselor, mentor, spiritual advisor, spouse, lover, or God. It is up to you to seek out those resources as you feel so led. Just don’t let Facebook be their substitute.
2—Don’t fall into the trap that because other people look happy, they are and you are not. We all have our demons. They just don’t show on the outside. Life is not easy. We live in an imperfect world with imperfect people including the person you and I meet in the mirror daily. Remember–pictures and posts capture happy moments in time that we memorialize and thereby artificially overemphasize. Pictures and posts don’t usually tell the whole story . . . and they certainly don’t tell the hole story.
3—Build your life on things that count for the long term: Faith, absolutes, family, relationships, values, serving, quality, nobility, virtue, and truth. Facebook can be just one small outlet and avenue for these things, but it is not the object upon which you build your life.
4—Facebook–like all social media–is merely a tool. How you choose to use that tool is your decision. Facebook can be a catalyst for growth in our relationships, professional lives, personal lives, and spiritual lives. Nevertheless, it is still just one tool in service to these endeavors. Don’t expect it to be more than that.
5—As our business world and our virtual world continue to evolve, remain authentic, optimistic, open, and alert. Social media isn’t going away. The best thing we can do is remain authentic, optimistic, open, and alert. That stance will ensure we maintain a balanced perspective. It will prevent us from prematurely accepting, condoning, rejecting, or condemning any new social media phenomenon.
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