Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Social Networking, and staying disconnected.

I am not sure why I thought I needed a  "facebook"  page or even a couple of them, but I have them. And like hundreds of millions of others I sign on to at least two of them every day. I am still not sure why I do this because at the end of each day nothing of any importance has really been accomplished.

However I defend this activity by telling others that I find it a convenient method of keeping my finger on the pulse of what others are thinking and to stay in touch with people I would otherwise have no reason to. Like some I knew in past eras of my life such as high school and various workplaces throughout my careers.

But the reality is that most of those are people I really don't care about. I care about a few of them but my list of so-called facebook friends numbers in the thousands. Most of them I have never known and will never talk to verbally or see in the flesh. And most of them are people I have little to nothing at all in common with.

I am reminded of those facts anytime I read what so may of them are willing to post, often eager to share with a world I suspect is just like me in that no one really cares what they think or how they feel, what their mood is or even that they have a facebook page. In the beginning I joined the network for self serving purposes. That is, to sell myself to people who might be interested in reading the things I write. Not so much the silly facebook comments but things like my various blogs and the books I have published.

If that sounds selfish or narcissistic I would remind the readers of this post who have facebook pages of their own that we are all alike in that sense. Like other artists, be they actors, musicians, sculptors or painters who have something to sell or just want to announce to the world their latest accomplishments, I began my own facebook  journey for the purpose of hawking what I do.

That is not totally unlike very attractive people, especially very good looking women who never seem to run out of pictures of themselves in various poses or in circumstances they believe others will drool over. The network is heavily populated by people who refuse to go through life unnoticed. Almost as if it is a very basic necessity to capitalize on their appearance, their accomplishments or their talents, especially if they regard themselves as being a little more special than most others.

Among my many friends are cops, firefighters, military personnel and the the worst of the worst....politicians. Those running for political office or just campaigning daily to show everyone how devoted they are to their office, they are the ones who probably gain the most from their time spent on facebook, and who can blame them? It is a tremendous venue to talk about themselves and it is free.

However, even though my own workload throughout my lifetime has kept me in similar circles with those I have mentioned so far they are not the people that I find interesting. I purposely go out of my way to avoid as many of them as possible and rarely do I ever comment on someone's page besides my own. I learned a long time ago that no matter how many times you satisfy their urge to be complimented or patted on the back, very few of them reciprocate or even show any signs that they appreciate your efforts to stroke their egos.

It is as if many of them expect to be told how wonderful they are. And when it comes to such expectations I am not completely selfish, I mean I will throw them a treat every now and then if only to let them know that I understood what they hoped to receive. I won't go overboard to a level where it would appear that I am sucking up to them or even close enough to any point where they might think I am enamored by them or envious of who they are or what they do. In this regard I find that Television personalities seem to be the hungriest of the lot. Most of them are constantly trolling for approval and reassurances that they are special.

The politicians only want your vote while some of the cops and firefighters need to hear how appreciative others are of their services. On the subject of public safety forces I feel qualified to point out what I regard as the boring ones who wear uniforms to work every day. I am talking about those who constantly post photos and comments about how dangerous their job is, and even worse, those who cannot stop talking about their skills and qualifications to do what they are not only paid to do but what they chose to do for a living. Humble and unselfish as it may be.

Some of them talk only about their jobs and some only talk to others in their line of work. Fraternities and brotherhood is fine and I believe in the sanctity and merits of both, but 24/7?  I need more than one stream chains of communication. Having been a cop for a number of years myself I am well past that time when all I wanted out of life was the job. I reached a point somewhere along the way when telling war stories about work became mundane and mostly uninteresting.

So these are not the people I hope to exchange verbiage with on a daily basis, no more so than with women who are on the prowl to meet men regardless of what they look like, be they former friends or old classmates or just some who are only on facebook trolling for new adventures.

No, the ones I find most interesting are the few who are not selling something, those who are not bragging about what they have or where they have been and especially those whose only purpose to even be on facebook is stay connected somehow to an environment they might otherwise not have access to.

I can be quick to let them know that I see them and that regardless of how insignificant their facebook involvement might seem to others I recognize their need to be heard or only noticed. I will always be more generous with my comments to these people than I will be to those who have come to expect all of the accolades they receive constantly.

With all of this said, and after nearly four years of  "facebooking"  there really is no valid reason for me to even log on. But I do log on every day. Not because I expect to learn anything I don't already know, or even to see anything I haven't already seen day after day. I know that when I begin to peruse the shares of others I will see no shortage of other people's family photos that really mean nothing to me, I will learn about the aches and pains of total strangers and I will see the same people who cannot make it through the day without asking for or offering prayers. I will even find out what people ate or what they plan to eat and I will see the same folks who are in a constant state of lonliness and those who are just plain mad about something....every day!

Just as there is a lot of love or people who want you to believe they love every thing and every one, there are a lot of angry people on facebook. Those who have drawn imaginary lines in the political sand. The ones who are eager to strike up any kind of confrontation with anyone who doesn't share their political opinions...those who know what is best for everyone else. These are the people I refuse to banter with at all.

Like all of the "experts" who know every thing about every thing and the "philosophers" who have insatiable appetites to post all of those poems or quotes normally found on coffee cups and tapestries. And of course, the community of "comedians" who have never been paid to be be funny or who have never drawn their own cartoons but who have many examples of someone else's work to share as well as an endless repertoire of jokes to post.

If I didn't ignore these people I might just lose my mind. For every time I see opinions that clash with my own, or try to read something someone else thinks is humorous but isn't to me, or when someone shares their emotional feelings, be they good ones or bad ones, my head hurts.

So at the end of this story there is no valid reason for me to be on facebook at all, except to... as I stated earlier, keep my finger on the pulse of the world out there. The one I never bother to explore otherwise because I have no burning desire to. Thus the photo I have shared here; one that is not photo shopped or otherwise enhanced, nor one that would suggest that I am anyone I am not. I didn't dress up for it and I have no urgency for approval from anyone. Just a picture that closely resembles what the mirror sees when I stand before it.

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