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Facebook and the Unexamined Life

April 27, 2011

Socrates said that an unexamined life is not worth living. As a farewell to this blog I would like to examine the role of social networking in our daily lives and the dangerous dependency that we have developed.  The addictiveness of social networking continues to make people slaves to an Internet website and truly keeps one from living an examined life.   Life experiences have become supplements to the Facebook status as people search for recognition in any corner that they look.   Does anyone really care about one brushing his or her teeth, taking a shower, catching the bus or any other miniscule daily event?

Facebook makes people feel like they do matter and places them in an alternate world in which they are the masters of how people perceive them, yet Facebook is the true master. Every social outing or event becomes littered with digital cameras trying to capture the moments so that the rest of ones 1000 “friends” can  share -in jealously.  Does anyone really have 1000 intimate friends? Spending time in a virtual universe around 1000 of ones “friends” keeps one from the personal sphere in which they may cultivate relationships and makes the true connections that are friends. The private realm no longer exists under Facebook as all of ones thoughts, pictures and communication are open to everybody, including employers.  One must always be under the professional guise or risk lowering their chance of employment if any of their Facebook content is deemed inappropriate.

With a current population of over 500 million people, eclipsed by only China and India, Facebook has the power to bring globalization to its zenith and dumb the population down to its core.  Don’t get me wrong, the intelligent use of Facebook can be wonderful- it played a key role in mobilizing the initial Jasmine Revolution and subsequent Arab revolutions and can be used to network and meet people one would otherwise never meet.  The danger of Facebook comes from its addictiveness, often likened to a drug, and the level of use that results in ultimately negative repercussions.  One becomes a slave to Facebook as all of their daily activities or life plans/goals become a supplement to their Facebook page.  The danger is that these websites are taking people away from what really matters; living and examining their lives, true friendships and a whole lot of time that could be usefully used elsewhere.   Excessive Facebook use creates a life that is perpetually unexamined, an impersonal life that is essentially a supplement to the page.

Yes, Facebook can keep one up to date on various events and gossip but it ultimately keeps one away from private time in which one can reflect and truly examine their life.  It is Facebook, along with all other destructive technology, that may work to keep a population at bay when horrible injustices occur- people are often too consumed by what another ate for lunch or where they went out last Saturday.  In a study done by LightSpeed Research it was found that over 1/3 of women ages 18 to 34 check Facebook when they first wake up, even before they go to the bathroom (mashable). This illustrates the dangerous grasp that Facebook has on many people’s lives and the power that it has to distract them from other things as the priority immediately upon waking up is to check Facebook. The rise of the proletariat, predicted by Marx in the Communist Manifesto, may be kept at bay by the distraction that is Facebook as mass populations become engrossed more on the Internet and less in life. Arguably every single person with a Facebook is a slave to it.  Socrates believed that all should be questioned but people are far too often straying away from examining their lives and with Facebook as such a powerful fixture of many lives it must be examined!

Turn on, tune in and drop out before Facebook becomes an unbeatable power and enslaves us all.

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