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Saturday, October 22, 2016

After reading Stephen Marche’s cover story about Facebook in the latest issue of The Atlantic, I went online to find the link so that I could — what else? — share it on Facebook.

The print edition, however, isn’t immediately available online. Thank you, Atlantic, for rewarding us loyal subscribers.

Interestingly, Googling the story’s title — “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” — generated more than 7 million hits. Apparently, some of us have been fretting about our Facebook addiction for some time now.

Marche’s piece is a riveting read, exploring whether Facebook is building or undermining a sense of genuine community. He writes: “The question of the future is this: Is Facebook part of the separating or part of the congregating; is it a huddling-together for warmth or a shuffling-away in pain?”

The answer: Yes, yes, yes and yes.

Marche’s discussion of real versus false intimacy has the potential to push Facebook friends to a whole new level of anxiety. Could it be we’re a bunch of phonies?

“The price of this smooth sociability is a constant compulsion to assert one’s own happiness, one’s own fulfillment,” he writes. “Not only must we contend with the social bounty of others; we must foster the appearance of our own social bounty. Being happy all the time, pretending to be happy, actually attempting to be happy, it’s exhausting.”

Anyone who’s regularly on Facebook knows exactly what he’s talking about. A lot of people are so relentlessly happy it’s annoying. People like me, I’m suddenly realizing.

I use Facebook primarily to spark discussions, but I also post personal updates. I never have admitted to having a really bad day. I was raised to be sunny no matter how dark the skyline. In a land of Eeyores, I’m Tigger.

So, I wonder: Have I become one of those annoying round-the-clock fakers chirping that life is  beautiful all the time and I’ll be happy to see those nice young men in their clean white coats and they’re coming to take me away, ha-ha, ho-ho, hee-hee.

Sorry. Maybe it’s only me getting anxious.

  • howa4x

    Many people are using facebook and other social media to start movements, like the overthrow of Murabak, or the start of the Green revolution in Iran. It makes us aware of what is happening in Syria. Back in the 60’s when the anti war movement was starting up, we had to depend on word of mouth, or underground news papers to find out what was going on. We still could get almost a million to DC for student mobe. Technology makes people more passive so now that same million can be contacted on socila media . It’s the future so we all need to get used to it

  • i think real friendships can be forged on fb. i think fb can take the meaning of community to another level. this ability to have instant contact with virtually the whole world is a new phenom and something we need to learn to exploit; much like our having to learn how to make squiggly lines in to cursive to where they are meaningful. i think, given enough time, we can render the respective meanings of “community” and “democracy” indistinguishable. this is a quantum leap in our own evolution….

  • joyscarbo

    I’ve actually lost friends and a family member because of my FB.
    I am opinionated about my personal, spiritual and political beliefs. I am a middle-of -the-road to liberal Democrat, I am staunchly pro-choice and I love God, pray regularly but don’t attend church. I think that police officers should be held accountable if they break the law. I don’t like republicans and the religious right.
    Just expressing these views on FB has gotten me ex-communicated with my sister-in-law. I am tolerant of her views but she isn’t of mine.
    I say, fine. If I’m be-friended on such a superficial place such as FB, then I wasn’t involved in a relationship that was worth anything to begin with.

  • I think about that HBO episode all the time. I am so afraid that when I am “smiling and eating a salad” at home alone that i might choke. I also think of Zorg from the awesome movie The Fifth Element choking on “one little cherry” because all this machines and gizmos couldn’t save him. We need people folks and we just need to learn to get along better with one another, take life a little easier, and keep conversations light with friends and heavy with your spouse.