Backpacking and Bipolar II. Taking Manic Depression on tour.
#socialmedia #facebook #imagecrafting #bipolar
Today I began my withdrawal from Facebook; it has been a long time coming. I made a post asking for everyone who wants to stay in touch to write their e-mail address up for me. Someone asked “Why are you leaving?” and the best answer I could give in summary was that Facebook had started really annoying me because none of it was real. This wasn’t the entire truth.
I’m sure that everyone has had the experience of putting something on Facebook to elicit a specific reaction or to create a specific appearance of themselves. The motive may be as simple as you want to make sure the ‘essence’ of a particular experience is captured. You may have been committed to inspiring others or at the least earning their jealousy. You might just be CELEBRATING an event or incident. The most truly worrisome aspect of this behaviour is that it has come to determine the stereotypes and tropes that people willingly adopt. People are now performing like seals to the standard set by social media. Rather than people just taking photos and sharing them with their friends, or keeping them for memories – the visual record of your ‘personality’ is now a garden that all citizens of the internet must tend.
Everyone out there has to be their own publicity agent and I don’t know if it’s because I’m an ill person – but I don’t like it. It is exhausting to see and since the default position is that of ‘celebration/braggadocio’ – a lot of the content simply makes no sense to me and gets up my nose. Reading between Facebook’s lines you essentially get told “YOU SHOULD ASPIRE TO DO THIS/BE THIS/HAVE THIS” by everyone posting on there. Why are people celebrating mundane/inane things? Why am I being expected to find some interest in what someone had for dinner? I’m glad you’re having a good night, but really how good can it be if you’re on your phone demanding validation from those of us who are at home?
In the age of the ‘selfie’ we’re seeing more and more the re-hashed and re-used photographs. Anyone who has been to the tower of Pisa has a photo of them propping it up. Anyone who has visited Mont Du Saint Michel has a photo of them holding it by the highest spire and it seems that almost everyone has a photograph of them making a love heart with their hands as they leap from an aeroplane. Everyone (from the UK at least) has a picture of them, jaw agape and tongue extended like Gene Simmons on some ‘kerazy’ night out.
Big deal, right? Maybe. But factor into your assessment the never-ending bombardment of either passive aggressive statuses or self-congratulatory posts or outright brags and really you’re being faced with a wall of information and ‘communication’ that you not only have nothing to say anything about but also – your response isn’t needed or wanted. The only desired outcome is that you read the post and approve (like) it or envy it.
Honestly – when the most interesting thing on my Facebook feed is Student Stuck Inside 32-Ton Stone Vagina Rescued By Firefighters I begin to wonder if perhaps we’ve lost our way. When I regularly see adults sharing photos for fear of imaginary, demonic teenage girls coming to eat their livers at night – I despair. Worst of all are the videos of child/animal abuse and guilt trip graphics or the latest faked photos used by xenophobic yobs to get their hollow points across.
This stuff is offensive to a person who is well. For myself – Facebook is one giant trigger for my various neuroses, fears and weaknesses. I don’t want to see all of my friends posting photos of their kids, photos of their weddings, photos of their amazing adventures. I’m glad for them that they have these things – but to be assaulted with a rolodex of things that I’m not doing or aren’t even sure that I want only serves to make me feel like a leper. I don’t know that I want kids, or marriage or the car, the house, the 9-5.
Unlike a real relationship with someone – what you know about people from Facebook is virtually all staged, self aggrandising propaganda. You get none of their vulnerability. You don’t hear about the bad day. Rarely is someone on there just asking for a cuddle. Rather the cult of positive thinking seem to have gotten their claws into social media – Facebook becoming a catalogue of visual and audio affirmations. “I AM successful.” “We ARE having fun.” “I AM young, wreckless and exciting.” “I AM an interesting person.” The pressure put on us to perform to expectation is significant. It was so before social media. Facebook has TURBOCHARGED this mechanic – So I’m dropping out. I don’t want to be part of the pantomime any more. For me it produces nothing but stress, unanswerable questions, existential angst and furthermore, it demeans the very core reasons and purpose in COMMUNICATION. I’ll e-mail my friends and Skype my family.
In summary – I reject the invitation to be part of the homogenised, non-think mass that gyrate, hooting at their bars for your admiration and approval. I’ll have genuine experiences and anyone taking the ‘Facebook’ photo is likely to be challenged on the spot. I want to be present in the moment, not rehearsing experiences so that when it’s seen on the other side of the lens by fuck knows who, fuck knows when they’re weally weally impwessed. I reject the idea that I should be anything other than I am – warts, vulnerabilities, flaws and all. I don’t aspire to be the Facebook apex predator, slinging evidence of their perfection in all directions.
If anyone with an illness that involves a significant amount of negative self-talk were to ask my advice – I would say to stay away from Facebook completely. It has gone from communication software to showcase software and it is full of information that may ruin your day. Happy days are hard-earned as it is. I think that Facebook is the glass display case that we choke in. What do you think? Do you agree/disagree?
All the best,