Friday, December 02, 2016

At Blocked

The best cure for writers block is writing. This piece of wisdom came from an acquaintance who once wrote. Following a transformational life experience, it is hard to speak from the heart which was the point of this blog. The heart is not where or what is used to be. I seem to have a stranger living inside my head. The two of us don't speak the same language or think the same thoughts. They make me reconsider all opinions, beliefs, loves and hates of the past in new light. In that sense, the years are decades that shaped me are now invalidated. So there silence, alien ideas that are hard to grasp though they come from within and a crippling incapacity to write. All this time, I have missed the therapeutic value of writing.

As an exercise to come in alignment with the stranger in my head who I am beginning to learn about, here are some mutually agreeable thoughts about Facebook.

There has been much talk about the recent elections in America having been heavily influenced by fake news promoted by Facebook. People have their worldviews reinforced by seeing more of what they want to see or believe. So we grow more entrenched in our positions, vindicated by fake news as it turns out. But the success and even existence of Facebook is predicated on our need for pretense and deception. Fundamentally, Facebook is less technology company and more grand experiment in human psychology and manipulating it for financial gain.

My childhood friend A is in a dead marriage for fifteen years now. He calls me sometimes to talk about the suffocation, about pretending to be Facebook Happy like everyone else he knows. He talks about doing time as long as he is able, about doing the right thing by his two children. His family pictures are snapshots of perfection they are meant to be. There is large contingent of Friends congratulating him on his wonderful kids and beautiful wife. He politely thanks them all. He lives a lie every time he posts one of these vignettes of his life, gets innundated with Likes and cheering comments. He chooses to broadcast the fiction not because he cannot separate it from fact.

He is hardly alone in doing so. A is using Facebook exactly as it is meant be used. Just like the fake news feeds that caused so much uproar, each person is feeding a constant stream of their deseiratum - unfolding a false narrative of themselves to their Facebook Friends. Collectively we curate an alternative reality of our society whose bounds depend on how much influence we possess.

Those fake news feeds belong squarely in this universe and should not be singled out for censure. Indeed, there is no place for truth or real news on Facebook. It would be at fundamental odds with the point of its existense. If we can no longer create our alternate realities on Facebook complete with "news stories" that affirm them, we might as well not be there.

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