Tag Archives: facebook

Belonging to Facebook

There’s a subtle social struggle going on about whether to Facebook or not to Facebook. I talk about it with others and observe many comments in different forums online. I myself made the decision to step away from the platform some six-plus months ago.

My decision was based on two things: Facebook’s wont to mine our personal data and pass it on to marketers or god knows who, and the fact that I could not longer deal with seeing some of my old friends, or even family members defend things like child concentration camps, racism, or historically failed economic policies. I’d rather remember them as decent people than view them through the lens of an algorithmically curated timeline.

I don’t miss the frustration, but I do miss out on family pictures and social group connectivity, like posting local events or keeping in touch with local organizations. Yet when I conjure up the benefit/cost analysis in my mind, the result falls in favor of staying off the site.

As I gain further distance from the platform and engage or listen in on conversations about participating on it, I’ve formed an important insight: Facebook offers an incredibly strong sense of belonging, even if much of it is a false sense of belonging.

This is a worthy point to hone in on because the need to belong to a social group, to feel accepted and loved, isn’t just a flippant desire; it’s as hard wired a necessity as food and oxygen to our survival. Abraham Maslow backs this up with the scientific observation of his Hierarchy of Needs – if we don’t feel a sense of belonging and love, we can not achieve our full potential as humans.

By and large, the one reason people seem to be sticking with Facebook, in spite of its astonishing lack of respect towards private information, is that it plugs in to our human need to belong.

Every thumbs up and heart emoji translates to feeling like we belong, we’re connected, we’re appreciated. We live in a hectic, fast-paced, dog-eat-dog society that often makes us feel lonely in spite of the thousands of people physically milling around us. But if we  post a picture of our cat, vent about our ex’s new spouse, or share a news article, a select few friends will see and like or offer comments of support and BAM! we’re accepted, we belong, we feel important. 

It’s not a genuine sense of belonging, though, simply because Facebook relies upon algorithms to determine what we all see on our timelines. The end result is that we’re only sharing or posting stuff from a narrow, virtual, point of view and our sense of belonging is tied to the likes of those followers who are chosen to see our posts through an algorithmic determination. Neither the incoming or outgoing messages are organic, but the responses satisfy our need to feel important nonetheless.

On the broader scale, many are reluctant to leave Facebook since that’s where they can connect with local organizations. I often hear someone lament that, ‘It’s too bad there isn’t some other way we can connect and share with such-and-such demographic.’ This particular area is where I personally miss Facebook most acutely. This indicates that our need to belong is so strong, and satisfied so well by Facebook, that local organizations are dependent on the platform’s connective ability to market their events and causes.

To the point that Facebook does not filter its news outlets for veracity or authenticity, the reliance we have on Facebook to provide a sense of belonging becomes dangerous. Millions are subject to outright propaganda which transcends to polling results…check out where we’re at right now as a nation.

To Facebook or not to Facebook may not be as much of a choice as we think. Considering the impact it had in the last general election, I’m concerned we all ‘belong’ to Facebook in an indirect way no matter our conscious efforts.

The fact that its roots reach deep into our psyche and entwine themselves greedily should at least make us pause to think about the consequences the platform inflicts upon our society. And maybe, some smartypants kid will develop a better way to connect. Or, maybe, we could fulfill our sense of belonging with real life people instead of virtual avatars.

Peace,

Frankie

NB: I’ll admit that YouTube, Twitter, and other social media outlets offer a sense of belonging in the same way. I focus on Facebook due to its ubiquitous role in our lives comparatively.

For a similar analysis about the dynamic of belonging to a social group and its effects, here’s an article about how it works in religion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


“I DON’T CARE!”: The conservative mantra and the demise of U.S.

Emotions are running high this election.  Facebook is burning up with heated conversations of family members and friends.  I’ve noticed a dangerous pattern within my conservative circle of friends and family – that is the utter tenacity to cling to untruths.  I have struggled  immensely trying to understand this mindset.

One of the things I observed is that many come back with the statement, “You can have your opinions, I’ll have mine.”  This is true.  The problem is that I am not disagreeing with their opinion.  Neither am I offering my own (most of the time).  I am merely setting the record straight with the truth.

I offer to read any books, links, or resources they would recommend so that I can research on my own, “You know, in all my readings I hadn’t read anything that says…so I’d love to read what you have.”  After all, I am forever posting links to Mother Jones, CSM, and The Guardian.  I do so hoping that they are read and I am willing to return the gesture. I almost never get anything back. (As a side note, this tactic has been a goldmine of information.  When those who take me up on the challenge do send me something, I find some amazing….ly insane information out there).

No matter what tactic I took it didn’t matter.  They cling to their misinformation adamantly. Recently, one person sent a very enlightening remark.  “I don’t care!”

There it was.  The light bulb went on for me.  There are people out there who just don’t care.  It doesn’t matter what the truth is, it doesn’t matter where the benefit lies, they just don’t care.

“Okay,”  I thought, “I suppose that’s one way of choosing to handle the truth.”  But then I considered it further and I came to realize that choosing not to care poses a serious threat to the greatness our country has achieved and it highly reduces any ability for us to be greater still.

Not caring about the truth strips us of the ability to reason and robs us of our capacity to grow again.  How can we plan for a better future for our children if we deny the reality of that future?  There can be no compromise on vital issues such as balancing our need for oil versus the need to keep our planet healthy if many of our citizens just “don’t care!”  How can we keep our government accountable if a great deal of its voters just “don’t care!”

The bottom line is this: when one side of the table doesn’t care about the truth, there can be no discussion.  No discussion means no moving forward, no progress, no growth.  Zip, zero, nothing.  The conservative mantra of “I DON”T CARE” about the truth is one of the most detrimental ideas to happen to our nation.  It is blatantly robbing us of our ability to be great.  In all sincerity and passion, I hope they come to care about that.

Be Well,

Frankie