Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Fasting from Facebook?

New technolgies like Facebook and Twitter are 'rewiring our mental processes without permission'. thus writes Shane Hipps in a perceptive artcle, 'Forming our souls with Facebook'.

  1. Excessive Facebook use turns us into an exhibitionist... An exhibitionist is someone who wants you to see them. So while there is little voyeurism, there is a lot of exhibitionism on Facebook.
  2. Excessive Facebook use turns us into narcissists....The narcissism created by these technologies is unique.  It encourages not just self-absorption, but more accurately self-consumption.  We become creators and consumers of our own brand.  We become enamored by a particular kind of self, a pseudo-self.
  3. Excessive Facebook use can 'disintegrate' us. ...Over enough time this subtle affect creates a minor split in us.  A split between who we are and who we think we are.  This tiny fracture may seem insignificant, but if we remain unconscious, it leads us away from a life of wholeness and integration.
  4. Excessive Facebook use can make ordinary healthy relationships more difficult...So while Facebook and other social media connect us to more digital relationships, at the same time they deteriorate our ability to maintain healthy relationships in real life.  This affect is particularly acute among adolescents for developmental reasons.
He's not much gentler onTwitter, but heed his conclusion...

Now it will be tempting to conclude after all this ranting that I am simply a Luddite, a technophobe bent on the dismantling of all digital technologies.  This is not the case, though admittedly, I was hardly even-handed in my observations. However, to herald the virtues of our technology is mostly redundant, it would be like trying to argue the importance of breathing.  It’s already here and the value it adds is self-evident.  This is why the technologies are so prevalent, we intuit their benefits otherwise we wouldn’t use them.  My concern is that our culture seems only capable of seeing the benefit, and utterly blind to the liabilities, the inevitable losses of certain technologies.  I have no interest in trying to end or stop such technological innovations; to do so is like trying to resist the wind or the tides.  Instead I want us to understand them with depth.  Not with na├»ve embrace or fearful rejection.
If we learn to wake up and understand, perhaps we will be able to use them rather than be used by them.
And his prescription (in relation to Twitter but similar for Facebook)
Once again, a simple fast may be appropriate.  Ignore your Twitter feed for a week and see what happens.  What do you miss?  What do you gain?  Pay attention when you feel an impulse to check Twitter and ask yourself, what is this about?  Am I bored? Restless? Lonely? Curious? Feeling disconnected? Needing a break form the monotony of existence?  Then sit with the feeling.  Let it arise fully without resisting it or retaining it.  See what it might have to teach you and check to see if there is something else beneath or behind it.  Often there is wisdom waiting to be born, but it means being patient.

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