Further Thoughts on Facebook

I wrote a post last week suggesting that, in its quest to capture our attention, it’s almost as if Facebook wants our worship.  I meant the post to be provocative, and at least for me, it was: the post has provoked some further thoughts, which I share below.

My Name is Andrew and I’m a User

I have a Facebook account and a Twitter account, I use YouTube, and I carry around an iPhone that enables me to be connected whenever I want.  It’s precisely because I’m a user that I’m concerned about what Cal Newport calls “Internet tools” (search engines, social media sites, online encyclopedias, etc.): I see their effects on my own life.   It is because I’ve seen what these tools are doing to me that I’m calling into question our naive and uncritical adoption of Internet tools.

Facebook Is Shorthand

For me, Facebook functions as shorthand for all the other Internet tools.  I don’t have anything against Facebook per se.

Social Media Is Different Than Television

One commenter wondered if I should have included television in my critique.  I don’t think television and Facebook are apples to apples, for several reasons:

  • Television goes in one direction only: I receive it.  Facebook, on the other hand, allows me to transmit messages to the world, and the very act of transmitting those messages in that medium promotes narcissism: it’s all about me.
  • Television isn’t one thing, but a grouping of many things: networks, advertisements, writers, actors, etc. Facebook is a for-profit monolith.  It’s ubiquity and power make it more dangerous than old media.

Social Media Promotes Narcissism

The very nature of the social media promotes narcissism, because they encourage me to make everything about me: my updates, my likes, my reactions.

Social Media Isolates

For all the talk about connectivity, I find that social media and the other Internet tools are more likely to isolate than connect us together.  The more time we spend looking down at our blinking smart phones, the less able we are to cultivate presence and mindfulness.

Social Media is the Enemy of Patience

Everything about Internet tools is about immediacy: immediate reactions, thoughts, and gratification of desires.  If I want something, I buy it on Amazon; if I have an opinion about a current event, I share it to the world.  This immediacy keeps us from developing the virtue of patience, and patience matters because the important things in life require that we wait.

Social Media Trains Me to Need Constant Stimulation

It is shameful how often I find myself in a line somewhere, only to pull out my iPhone.  The way Internet tools have trained us to need constant stimulation is what scares me the most about these tools.

Social Media is the Message

If the medium is the message, then it’s not the content of the various social media platforms that ought to worry us, but the very nature of these platforms themselves.  In other others, it could be the case that even if we eschew all the destructive and evil things on the Internet (pornography, terrorist death videos, etc.), these tools might still warp our minds and twist our wills.

At least, that’s what I’ve started to worry about.

 

 

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In Praise of SNL’s Kyle Mooney and Beck Bennett

Kyle Mooney and Beck Bennett are the funniest, smartest comedians to be on Saturday Night Live in a long time.  (At least, that’s my humble and accurate opinion.)  They both have a great ear for the ridiculous and a talent for satire that’s not cruel.  Here are some examples of their work.

 

Reality House

We’ve come to take it for granted, but, as Kyle and Beck’s deadpan voice-overs and bogus one-on-ones with the camera make clear in this sketch, reality television is a ridiculous, boring genre.  (I love the furniture-throwing at the end.)

Cool (with Ryan Gosling)

I think my favorite part of this satire of Friday evening 90’s network sitcoms is Kyle Mooney’s flat “Dougé” voice and the laughtrack.  (Ryan Gosling is a great 3rd man.)

March Madness (Ariana Grande)

This is one of those completely silly skits that just works because of the earnest stupidity of Kyle and Beck.  My 6 year-old thinks it’s hilarious, and I agree.  (It doesn’t hurt that Ariana Grande is one of those celebrity guests who knows how to play the straight man.)  My son’s favorite line: “And we’ll bring the FROGS!”  My favorite line: “We’ll probably just bring ’em.”

Mr. Riot Films

Here’s my question: is the man with the hardhat a plant, or did they actually ambush him?

Kyle vs. Kanye

I think the self-involved and self important emotional tone is just perfect.

Comedy Club

The eyeroll and then the teary-eyes–it’s so painful and so funny.

Baby CEO

Are his movements perfect, or what?

Love these guys.

 

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(Old Testament Law on Friday, Saturday Night Live on Monday.  Fox and hedgehog, remember….)