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When I saw this marvelous advertisement on my beloved Dr. Boli’s celebrated magazine, I thought of Facebook. So here is my connection: Facebook breeds sloth and apathy. Facebookers waste time delighting in pictures of themselves and the soap opera lives of those they know (and don’t know). What most Facebookers don’t know is how bored they really are. Glued to a virtual world, Facebookers become impervious to the real one right behind them. Facebookers run a high risk of becoming indifferent to that which is right in front of them. Yup, rather like IndifferentMan. Ye Facebookers beware! Thou shalt become like IndifferentMan!
This is from a The Weekly Standard article from last year, written by a certain Matt Labash. I had never heard of the man before this, but the following excerpts contain some of the most exhilarating words I have heard in a while. Good AFLI members, read and rejoice!
“I’m not inflexible. But there is one promise I’ve made to myself. And that is that no matter how long I live, no matter how much pressure is exerted, no matter how socially isolated I become, I will never, ever join Facebook, the omnipresent online social-networking site that like so many things that have menaced our country… came to us from Harvard but has now worked its insidious hooks into every crevice of society.For the five or six Amish shut-ins who may not yet have heard of this scourge (your tenacious ignorance is to be admired, and I’d immediately friend you if I was into Facebook and you had electricity), Facebook is an online community where colleagues, friends, long-lost acquaintances, friends of friends or long-lost acquaintances, and perfect strangers find and “friend” each other based on their real or perceived affinity. They then have access to each other’s web pages, and consequently to each other’s lives, quirks, photos, jottings, oversharings, and mental disorders, as well as to those of the ever-expanding universe of their friends’ circles, thus increasing the likelihood that you will either embarrass yourself or be embarrassed by someone whose life would never otherwise intersect with yours.”
Mr. Labash continues:
“I hate Facebook and everyone on it, including my friends, who I like. My wife just joined it, and I dearly love her. But scratch that. I hate her too. After all, right is right. Sometimes, we courageous few must make a stand.”
On one of his friends joining the Facebook community:
“I told him he was a very sad man, that collecting Facebook friends is the equivalent of being a catlady, collecting numerous Himalayans, which you have neither the time nor the inclination to feed. “You have obviously never been on Facebook,” he said. “It’s so much worse than collecting cats.”
On his wife getting Facebook:
“Normally a crisp woman who tackles tasks with speed and aplomb, she had a new slackness to her. All the things she usually takes care of without me even being much aware (paying bills, making dinner, etc.) would slide, as she was now filling out the endless Facebook busy-work questionnaires people constantly send to each other like dippy substitute teachers who don’t know what assignment to give. As she filled out the now ubiquitous “25 Random Things About Me” list shooting around Facebook circles, near perfect strangers could come to know things it took me years to find out (“I hate when people talk without clearing their throats. . . . I tend to like those with an easy smile”) and things I hadn’t even yet discovered (“I wish I had more opportunities to shoot a gun”).
I’d earned this knowledge by taking the time to get to know her.”
“No, the reason to hate Facebook is because of the stultifying mind-numbing inanity of it all, the sheer boredom… [Facebookers] have a reality-show star’s unquenchable thirst for broadcasting all the details of their lives, no matter how unexceptional those details are. They do so in the steady, Chinese-water-torture drip of status updates. The very fact that they are on the air (or rather, on Facebook) has convinced them that every facet of their life must be inherently interesting enough to alert everyone to its importance.”
Vehement words that are much-needed, Mr. Labash! The AFLI appreciates your sentiments!
Yesterday I learned that I won 500$ in an essay contest which I entered in December. Yes, a lot of money for one page of well-placed words. Writing is certainly thrilling, always thrilling! The moral of this factual story is this: Remove Thyself From The Short, Stilted Sentences and Unedifying Subject Matter of Facebook and Go Write a Letter, Read a Book, Watch Henry V, or Bake Something in the Kitchen. Trust me on this one, and maybe you’ll experience the sensation of opening a letter saying you won 500$. It’s quite pleasant, I assure you.
Friends don’t let friends get Facebook…
The following excerpt is from The Dotcomrade: The Many Faces of Online Friendship, an article by Brian Boyd on The New Atlantis:
“What does it mean, then, to be on someone’s “Buddy List,” or to be “friended,” by contrast to what it means to be a friend? And will the rising generation be able to tell the difference? Our wisest sage on the subject is Aristotle, who, in the Nicomachean Ethics, distinguishes three main types of human friendships. The lower two forms, those based on utility and pleasure, are rooted in what each expects to receive from the other; when one is no longer useful or pleasing to the other, the friendship almost surely will fade. By contrast, “the complete form of friendship is that between people who are good and alike in virtue,” where the emphasis is not upon what is gained, but rather upon the common love of the good. While online interaction can undoubtedly form and further friendships of utility (mutual survival) and pleasure (mutual interest), can it promote friendships of mutual virtue? This is surely a question that social scientists cannot fully answer, but one recent study might shed a little light on the subject. “Social Isolation in America: Changes in Core Discussion Networks Over Two Decades,” published in the June 2006 American Sociological Review, presents data showing that Americans in 2004 had on average smaller discussion networks—that is, a smaller number of confidants with whom they “discuss important matters”—than when surveyed in 1985. According to the study, “Many more people talk to no one about matters they consider important to them in 2004 than was the case two decades ago” (emphasis added). Those surveyed in 2004 reported, on average, two “core confidants,” down from three in 1985. Why then—when the flourishing of today’s tools of communication have enabled an explosion of sociability—have the ranks of our closest confidants been diminished? Various interpretations tempt our judgment: Does the “self-creation,” or distortion, made easy by online anonymity and customizable avatars damn us to lose (as Yeats put it) “the heart-revealing intimacy / That chooses right” without which we will “never find a friend”? Does youth culture’s cry, “If you’re not on MySpace, you don’t exist,” reveal a generation of Berkeleyan idealists in the making, to whom “to be is to be perceived”? Or, as Ann Hulbert suggests in a recent article in the New York Times Magazine, does such data imply we are simply making better Aristotelian distinctions between friends—“a stark testament that we value a deep bond when we find it and aren’t fooled when we don’t”? The authors of the study avoid any far-reaching conclusions. But the data almost speaks for itself: Since 1985, the discussion networks of Americans have become “smaller, more densely interconnected, and more centered on the close ties of spouse/partner” even as the Internet has increased our access to a wider, more diverse, more dispersed array of social bonds. We seem to be losing confidants even as we gain an online portfolio of virtual “buddies”—living out the proverb “a friend to many is a friend to none.” In this age in which “friend” has become a verb, the most elevated kind of friendship seems ever harder to sustain.”
“…a healthy civilization is led by a creative minority, setting society’s behavioral standards…”
Here is a link to an article on The American Spectator about Facebook and narcissism: http://spectator.org/archives/2009/07/06/the-land-of-narcissus
While we are spending time on Facebook and other internet distractions, there are a number of things we are not doing anymore. One of the most important of these is letter writing. We need to question whether our social networking systems of “communication” are actually improvements on what we have sacrificed to make the time for them.
In honor of my deceased friend, the Letter, whom I have been trying to raise back to life for these past few years:
“Letters, then, embrace all of reality and encompass the whole range of human experience and thought…the letter reflects the soul or essence of a person more than his body, physical presence, or appearance which often lead to distractions or preoccupations with the accidental characteristics of clothing and mannerisms. Letters lead us to the center of our lives and to the hearts of others: the permanent things. They cultivate the value of leisure and contemplation, for one must find time to think, write, and be recollected instead of wasting time watching television or using the internet. Letters by their very nature deal with primary things, important matters, the deepest emotions, and enduring relationships… while civilization is transmitted by a society’s manners and morals, it is also perpetuated by its art, literature, and letters. As internet use and television viewing replace conversation in homes and as e-mail gains more popularity than letter writing, the quintessentially human activities where true communication, exchange, and interaction occur suffer. The ersatz replaces the real, an imaginary virtual reality becomes a substitute for human experience, communication lacks tact, courtesy, and etiquette, and sophisticated technology spoils the relish of simple pleasures. Without the restoration of the loss art of personal letter writing, the noblest sentiments, the wisest advice, and the most beautiful love letters will not be recorded. The world will lose some of its most priceless treasures, letters written to beloved people that speak volumes about the graciousness of human hearts.” – From The Lost Arts of Modern Civilization, by Mitchell Kalpakgian
Note: “ersatz” means a replacement or substitute of inferior quality
Savvy’s List: A Couple of Things which Fail to Exist on Facebook:
- The “Passion of Handwriting”
- The Uncorrupted Craft of Writing
- Value and Import (Versus Superficiality and Triviality)