I have read so many articles lately criticizing people for using Facebook and other social networking platforms.
Telling us to unplug, and about privacy and other such stuff. And while I am a big fan of the great outdoors and talking to actual people, as an introvert, I love my controllable, containable cyber social life!
I am guessing that reading this kind of stuff—online—makes you giggle as much as it does for me.
I truly love irony.
But I am going to go out on a limb here in defense of a techno-life.
I am kind of new to this whole putting myself out there in the public sphere thing. I have had Facebook for a long time now, but guard my privacy fiercely and only have Facebook friends who are, you know, actual real life friends.
But, thanks to elephant journal and becoming an accidental writer, that has changed in the past year. I now have a public page and, gasp, I just started a Twitter account. I have one follower!
So, in the name of self-awareness, I am owning my new inner techno-narcissist. I check my page for comments. I read the comments on my articles and on the elephant journal pages when they are posted. I get little goosebumps when people say nice things. I have checked my new Twitter page 47 times in the past hour.
Yep, I am being a cyber narcissist.
Facebook (and Twitter and Instagram and Pinterest and…) can bring out the narcissist in all of us. We check to see who has liked and seen our posts, our lives, us. And that is okay. I am not just saying this because I am now on the wagon…(I am almost positive!). I think that our online networks can be an important way of feeling connected. I am going to be brave and say that it is okay to get validation from our cyber world.
Because no man or woman or internet junkie is an island. These platforms did not flourish because we were all feeling perfectly connected and validated in our ‘real’ lives. Obviously, being cyber-followed is a little bit good for us. Not just for our business or our networking or for famous people, but for us, the ordinary, everyday people who want to say something more to more people than we would otherwise.
Loneliness is endemic.
We are out there in the world, often surrounded by other people every day, but if there is one thing the readers have taught me in the past year, it is that so many of us are feeling isolated, disconnected, not understood. So what if cyberspace makes us feel connected, if we find people more like us out there in the ether and we all ‘like’ each others days—is that such a bad thing?
A technologically-savvy blogger friend of mine recently found a post on a forum he was perusing over breakfast from a young guy who was feeling very despairing and talking about suicide. I gave my friend some of my best counseling advice and he made contact with the poster. I don’t know the outcome, but I fervently hope that those moments of cyber-connection gave him whatever he needed in that moment to stay here.
Sure, you can say he was crying wolf or just seeking attention, but isn’t that kind of the point? If he was feeling so sad and lonely that he needed to reach out to strangers for a little encouragement, then I thank the universe for the digital network that provided that for him.
So, I say, use the Book of Face. Cheep like a little birdy in the Twitter chorus. Instaphoto your entire day if that makes you happy. We are social creatures and our village has changed. The urge to share is human. Feeling heard, feeling understand, feeling connected is good for us.
And, maybe, just maybe, try to maintain an awareness of your inner face, the chorus in your heart, the photo of your soul at the same time, so that you can know why you are using cyberspace to fill your needs. Absolutely nothing wrong with doing it, if it is done with awareness. Be your own cyber meta-data collector.
Because, like all things in life, understanding the little voice in your head and heart and soul is the key to freedom in all things. Being aware of the narcissism, rather than just being narcissistic gives you freedom to choose it.
And choice is sexy. Choice is freeing.
Choice means we can access all aspects of life, rather than boxing ourselves into to judgment and disapproval.
Own your inner attention whore. Admit you posted that status in order to get likes or comments, or secretly let someone know what you are up to. No big deal. We all do it. We all appreciate the attentions of others. Not necessarily, “validate me, I need you to say I am great”, but it is fine if it is more, “hey, thanks for noticing and I value the connection of this tiny moment.” Like.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Tui Anderson
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: 5 Wa at Flickr