Thursday, July 25, 2013

Fallacy Of Social Media

To my son Tommy,

As always, many of my letters are inspired by you through Jimmy Buffett lyrics as is today ...

You're caught up in that internet.  You think it's such a great asset, but you're wrong, wrong, wrong. All that fiber optic gear, still cannot take away the fear like an island song. Holiday by Jimmy Buffett

I often find myself caught up in the internet.  Nowadays, even taking a holiday is no guaranteed escape from the internet.  It just creates a tempting chance to break away and enjoy some waves and sand.  Of course in today's age, you bring your nook or your ipad down to the beach with you.  Plus it won't be long before everyone is stealthily connected to the internet by wearing Google glasses.  Often this means you lose contact with those people right next to you.

Some say this isn't true and that you actually have more connections and deeper connections with people.  They point to the fact that they can see what so and so had for lunch and which friend's kid is newly potty trained and who is in a relationship or fresh out of one.  People's entire lives are out there on the internet and many say this proves we are becoming more connected.  But there is a major fallacy in this train of thought.  It assumes people care and bother to engage.

Every person has a different center of their world and for the most part that center is themselves.  Even if the center of their world is shared with politics, or religion, or family, or hobbies, or other interests, or a four year old son...people tend to post about their center.  Frankly, most readers don't care about someone else's center and only a few updates are ever allowed to sink in.  Each time we hit send or post or publish, it is like sending out a bunch of meteors.  For the most part they will zoom by most planets harmlessly unseen and unknown.  Some might give a diversion and light up the sky with a nice meteor show, but that is quite fleeting.  Occasionally one will fall down to a planets surface making a nice ding but leaving the planet for the most part unchanged. Rarely one will hit a planet dead on and change that planet forever.  Yet the original poster thinks everyone is reading their posts and updates and following along with the posters life.  They assume that everything they send out in this universe his hitting everyone else dead on or at least worth a look see like a shooting star.  But we all have our own lives that we have enough trouble following along and keeping up with.  It is luxury to sit and watch for falling stars when there is so much work to be done in our own world.

To be honest this is not just an internet thing but a life thing.  People always want to talk about themselves and very rarely engage in what is important to someone else, which is of course their self.  When this type of exchange happens face to face, we call it narcissism...when it happens on facebook, we call it sharing.  As if that weren't enough, we have our narcissism offended if we meet in person and the other guy has no idea of everything we "shared" about our current life.

So remember, as you engage people, be it in person or on the internet,you are not the center of the world...they are.  Use that to your advantage but do not abuse it.  Actively listen to people.  Ask questions to people so they can tell you about their center.  Don't constantly bring it back to you and your experiences.  And for Pete's sake disconnect from the internet and engage face to face from time to time.

As for the center of your world...change it.  Make your center about love, about family, about serving others, not about yourself and then act accordingly.  And don't decide to post letters to your son everyday of your life as it may be just feeding some narcissistic tape worm.  I really hope I have risen above that and truly am reaching out to you, one of the most important centers of my life.

Sincerely with love from your dad,

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