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I know you will enjoy this guest post by a certain K.R. Guilford…I’m debating whether to include it in the 100 Household Items With More Value Than Facebook section… sea monkeys as household items… hmmm… what say you, dear readers?
Chicken Soup for the Facebook Addict: An Essay Consisting of Forty Percent Sarcasm and Sixty Percent Proposal
By K. R. Guilford
“That’s it,” you cry, for some reason or another, “I’m quitting Facebook!” And with that, you swear away that wretched compulsion. However, an addiction is, well, an addiction; a ravening obsession. Going cold turkey is, to say the least, difficult. As you sit down in front of the computer the next day, you find your mouse straying towards the bookmark on your browser window, and a little voice says in your head, “Your spirit is willing, my friend, but your pink flesh is weak. Join my league,” (the former, of course, being said by the cryptic Zen master in all of us, the latter by that certain exuberant someone who never thought Facebook was a good idea, anyway).
“What must I do?” you cry, in the depths of exasperation. “I must have my mindless entertainment and impersonal drama to survive!” The first reaction is to grab the remote and click on the television, but again the little voices rail against you. Is this not as bad as that entity which you have just relinquished? The obsession and sedation? The instant gratification, the lack of self-control? Ah, away with TV, that cultural forbearer. It carries the same message as Facebook though not so obviously. Your hand reluctantly pushes the remote control into a drawer as a gusty sigh escapes your lips. You, a broken person, turn sadly back to your computer and begin checking your notifications, wondering if you will ever be free from that vicious cycle.
Can there be no transitional step? Is the only way to cure this craving to push away untimely impulses and force oneself to begin thinking deeply and rationally right off the bat? How can this be? Addictions can hardly be beaten through will-power alone, as they are often intrinsically chemical. Ah, if only there were Facebook rehabilitation centers! However, possibly there is an alternate solution, for quitting smokers often use the help of nicotine patches to wean themselves, as it were, from the influences of their dependence. Can there possibly be something similar for those withdrawing themselves from the drama and unwholesome pleasure of these social networking sites? I say, “yes,” fortunately, there is such a thing.
That’s right, you heard me, (or rather, read me.) The amazing little creatures are more commonly known as brine shrimp, and more scientifically known as Artemia Salina. To get the logistics down, all you need to keep them is a small container, the brine shrimp (which can be bought at the local bait and tackle shop), water, and some food. In fact, some stores sell all these things together and market them off as “Sea Monkeys.” Yes, yes, you cry impatiently, but how will this save me from my dreadful dependence? Ah, my dear reader, but let me finish, and all will become clear.
Suppose you did go out and buy yourself a sweet little package of sea monkey cysts and threw them into their stylish case of water. You watch in utter amazement as they hatch from their eggs and start moseying about in their enclosure. For a little under five dollars, voila, instant soap-opera conditions. These svelte animals will interact with one another in a way that would put many script-writers to shame while remaining nearly oblivious to your presence. You can even give them odd names like “Magda” or “Neveah,” so that you may more easily keep track of all their hilarious antics. Some monkeys will become more popular than others, love triangles will soon form, and the more athletic ones will flip and loop for the attention of their peers. The little puffs of personality will keep you entertained for hours. For those more strongly addicted to Facebook, you can even train the shrimps to respond to certain stimuli. For example, you can “poke” the shrimp by jabbing an extended finger into the water of the sea monkey’s habitat, and watch as they either ignore you or come rushing to investigate and retaliate (much like your friends would on Facebook, no?) You can also give them “gifts” such as little Sea Monkey Surfing Crystals. These pea-sized, clear crystals can be placed into the water for your little friends to play with and be fascinated by before they grow bored and ignore the present for the rest of their short lives.
Imagine it. Instead of coming home and rushing in to your computer to check your Facebook account, you instead plop down in front of your sea monkeys and watch the drama unfold. Oh, look! Robert and Maria (pronounced, mar-EYE-ah) have coupled up, leaving poor Cyril feeling lost and abandoned. The poor thing. Give him a poke to let him know you care. Off in the corner Luke is stealthily treading water, staring at you. What a stalker. And over here Rachel is showing off again, turning all kinds of crazy loop-de-loops. She obviously just wants attention. Block her (this can be done by placing a book, a shirt, a piggy bank, a baby monitor, or some other such opaque object in front of the offending shrimp). See? I have offered the perfect substitute to help you draw away from your unnatural habituation.
“Now wait just a minute,” you cry in indignation, “how is this any better than Facebook? I’m still hooked upon the same habits and social performances if my ‘friends’!” Ah, but you see, my dear reader, a brine shrimp community holds some key differences from social networking. Firstly, sea monkeys are not human beings, and therefore it is impossible to minimize the human person’s dignity by feeding off of their personal lives for entertainment. Secondly, the idea of instant, painless gratification is greatly reduced, for the shrimp must have time to grow and mature, all the while being carefully fed and attended to. Thirdly, there are no flickering screens present to chemically numb and distract the user’s mind from reality, and it is tricky indeed to become so completely absorbed into a society of shrimp that one cannot hear the call of duty, whatever that duty may be. Lastly, though certainly not leastly, all the tiny animals will die within the space of a year or two, leaving you mildly saddened but free.
Now, imagine yourself completely liberated from those abject Facebook chains. No more hours wasted in front of the computer monitor, no more untimely procrastination, and no more annoying Farmville requests. You keep in contact with your true friends through email, letters, or phone conversations, and your false friends disappear in a haze of severely awkward exchanges. Who do you have to thank for this newfound self-determination (not counting the little voices)? Why, the sea monkeys, of course. After their deaths and flushing ceremony, you undoubtedly felt their loss, but the desire for their company or the company of That Dreaded Faceboook waned and dwindled with every passing moment. Sure, it took some willpower, but what’s a little loss when it comes to the reclaiming of freedom?
“… a spiritual dope for deadening the pain of modern living… all the characteristics of a powerful narcotic, but it works on the spirit of man rather than on his body… the general effect of narctoics is in the brain area. They induce a stupor, a sort of sleep, a dulling of the brain, which prevents pain from registering… It does not make the unhappy marriage happy, or the job creative; it does not give hope, but it does give forgetfulness. This it does through its tremendous, almost hypnotic power of centering the attention of a person on a screen. It is like a huge distraction. It keeps pictures racing through the mind so fast that the power of thinking, the contact of the mind with reality, is virtually suspended through not being able to intrude on the person’s attention…” (My Life With Thomas Aquinas: Common Sense from St. Thomas Aquinas For Your Family)
Carol Robinson was speaking particularly about television. Yet, she was also pointing out the general problem of overusing technology. So often we use our advanced technology for the wrong reasons. It is dreadfully harmful when we allow addictive things like Facebook to deaden our ability to to live. Instead of acting, speaking, and moving in the physical world, we choose… a virtual world. And thus we remove ourselves one sphere farther from the supernatural world, which is reality. I don’t think there can be too much caution in this matter. More often than not, Facebook lends a hand in drowning the spiritual element in a person by disconnecting him from or deadening his free will, sense of value, compassion, ability to contemplate, appreciation of true friendship, and, to put it bluntly, brain cells.
→ Also, be sure to check out this story, “A Death on Facebook” by Kate Bolick, which appeared in The Atlantic the other day. It’s very interesting…..http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/09/a-death-on-facebook/8177/
Hello everyone! My sincere apologies that I have not been posting of late. I like to think that it just goes to show that I have a life in that novel place known as the real world. However, as I’ve been traveling around the world the last four weeks, I have been doing a lot of thinking about the AFLI. Some of your comments have been thought-provoking, and I welcome your input. Inspired partially by all of you, there are a few changes I plan to make in the near future which will hopefully make the AFLI a more effective organization. Keep your fingers crossed that I can finish thinking the issues through and bring the AFLI up a notch real soon. In the meantime, there is much to say. Here is some tasty stuff to think about…
Dr. Boli, that favorite fellow of mine, has this to say about the net:
2. Alan Jacobs says this, which applies well to Facebook, I think:
“I don’t think that Tolstoy vs. lolcats is just a matter of taste. To be sure, not everyone needs to read Tolstoy; most people don’t need to read Tolstoy. It would be nice if more people did, but it’s not socially or personally necessary.
What is necessary, I think, is for all of us to be engaged in some activity that challenges us, that tests our intellectual limits. For some people that might be reading Tolstoy, while for others it might involve writing code or learning Klingon. But as Lanier says, “You have to be somebody before you can share yourself,” and being somebody is an achievement. It requires intentional labor, and a degree of personal ambition — and anyone can work and strive, though some have farther to go than others. But a lot of fooling around on the internet is just that, fooling around: it doesn’t test our resources or stretch our capacities. In many cases that’s fine, because we shouldn’t be working all the time: but even if fooling around on the internet really does somehow increase social creative capital — which I have no reason to believe — it doesn’t achieve a damned thing for the person doing it.”
I concur with Jacobs. Exactly. You have to be somebody before you can share yourself. One of my pet peeves about Facebook. Pointlessness, unnatural gossip, and fake identities. It’s Narcissism Central. Literally.
3. This is also interesting:
“Children growing up in homes with many books get 3 years more schooling than children from bookless homes, independent of their parents’ education, occupation, and class. This is as great an advantage as having university educated rather than unschooled parents, and twice the advantage of having a professional rather than an unskilled father. It holds equally in rich nations and in poor; in the past and in the present; under Communism, capitalism, and Apartheid; and most strongly in China. Data are from representative national samples in 27 nations, with over 70,000 cases, analyzed using multi-level linear and probit models with multiple imputation of missing data.”
So this talk about books being in a state of demise… well, I sincerely hope it is phony. I doubt having Kindles in the home is going to help make kids smarter.
(Source: First Things Online)
4. Last thing. Here is a lovable pic from Unhappy Hipsters which sums up modern man pretty neatly:
Without the daily self-portraits, he feared he might disappear completely.
(Photo: Kent Dayton; Dwell, Jan/Feb 2004)
Seriously. This reminds me of when (after an hour long class) I watched a girl check her phone and exclaim: “Nobody loves me! I don’t have any texts!” People need to reclaim their ability to be free and independent thinkers and not merely fish in the current. People looking for love need to depend on something much sturdier than technology. People need to quit Facebook. JUST QUIT THE THE DEMONIC THING! PLEASE! By the way, that pic is going in my dorm room. Ha, ha. As always, I am grateful for your comments and insight. I promise that I do take your thoughts into consideration, even if I am too busy to respond promptly. Long live the glorious AFLI!
Savvy J. Buckner