Why am I here?

by Tom Lunt

I just quit Facebook.

Here’s why:  Facebook works by hijacking a certain ruminative mental function that ordinarily depends upon real-life, in-world experience to support your sense of self, your relationship to others, and the manner in which you react to events. It’s subtle, and feels actual, though it’s more closely related to fantasy. Think of it as a role-playing game. As with any RPG, the more time you spend with it, the more it supplants reality. 

The problem is that it uses reality, real people and real events, as its space and players. 

My suspicion that this may not be a good thing began when I was laid up for nearly a year after a knee surgery. I started to notice that Facebook was creating a personality for me and forcing me to be his biggest fan. Naturally, everyone wants to be loved and appreciated for who they are, but FB’s deeply addictive algorithm for reward delivers nothing but surface, like a frozen pond you skate so effortlessly upon, cheering yourself at every deft leap and twirl. It’s all applause until it isn’t and then you become desperate for more applause. From yourself. 

This is unhealthy. 

“But wait, assuming you have a strong sense of self, how can this little online game snare you? Surely you must be weak-minded and susceptible.”

Well, who isn’t? Ask an alcoholic. In the throes of a profoundly addictive substance, none of us are immune. And these are real people; your “friends.(tm)” They care about you, some of them. 

Human connection is the gateway drug Facebook peddles to get you hooked on the good shit: an overweening sense of entitlement, celebrity in small doses; fame, albeit only in your head, and only to yourself. That is their business model. For free, you can become a legend in your own mind. 

I know. You’re reading this on a blog. But with no comments, and for a reason: it breaks the game. You might want to have your say about what I’ve written here, and I welcome it. Over a drink, perhaps. In a place where some time has passed and I can see your eyes and hear your voice. I suspect we’d both like that.