Sometimes thoughts don't immediately appear, and time is the only thing that gels them into formation. This is what happened with , “Connected, but alone?” It's an important topic and writing off a half-dashed post didn't feel right. So I let my thoughts sit.
â€œWe're smitten with technology. And we're afraid, like young lovers, that too much talking might spoil the romance. But it's time to talk.â€
Even if we talk, is it too late? Have we already been sucked into the void and isolation of technology? And if so, when will it spit us back out, leaving us rolling in our digital graves?
The Atlantic poignantly describes why Facebook is Making us Lonely. Besides belting out the lyrics to Kelly Clarkson's What Doesn't Kill You driving 80 mph on a highway with no one listening, how else are we “talking” about loneliness?
What doesn't kill you makes you stronger
Stand a little taller
Doesn't mean I'm lonely when I'm alone
I just quoted Kelly Clarkson. Kill me now. Or send vodka. Your choice.
Idolizing loneliness is a subconscious obsession throughout society. Look at Don Draper's character in Mad Men. Or Christian Grey in 50 Shades of Grey. They're both loners tormented by demons, only coming alive when filled to the brim with despair. Their exteriors are beautiful, but it's the darkness within that attracts. They lack connection. The paradox of connection though, seems to be…death?
Why does death make us more popular than when we're alive? Is it the fear that it could (and will) one day be us? Or is it the universal theme that simply being alive means that we're alone?
The answer to pervasive loneliness is simple. Connect. Reach out. Post updates to Fakebook to give off the facade that we're happy. Really happy! I'm guilty of this as much as anyone.
Only it paradoxically makes us more alone.
Facebook prides itself on quantity, not quality. Which is why the social network Path aims to focus on quality.
Path believes that it can make performative, broadcast behavior intimate.
That is: by limiting the number of connections, but shaping their nature, by imbuing the entirety of their product with a substantiality and a quality that emphasizes real human engagement, they can create an intimate network.
But there can be no such thing; real intimacy can never, ever be broadcast. It must be either one-to-one or one-off.
A new friend insisted connecting on Facebook to “make it real.” Really? Are we not “real” friends if we're not friends on Facebook? What is real nowadays?
The “Real” Answer
The real solution if you want people to like you is to kill yourself:
If you die then certainly people will feel two things: A) they will feel bad. B) they shouldâ€™ve learned more about the good side of you. C) itâ€™s inappropriate to say anything bad about dead people so the only thing said will be positive things. Now, you might think its tongue-in-cheek that I suggest dying. I donâ€™t really think you should die. But some of the later methods I mention are derived from this method. There are many ways to die. Death being only one of them.
The cataclysm of death is real. Death, symbolical or not, cuts us to the core of our existence. When we embrace the silence of death and darkness we connect. There's something juxtaposition-ally Zen about this.
Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys was a practicing Buddhist. The lyrics on the last track of the album Check Your Head reads:
â€œDark is not the opposite of light; it's the absence of light.â€
Light is a metaphor for knowledge, particularly self-knowledge. If we're self-aware that there's an absence of light, we're one step to bringing awareness to the darkness. And it's in this darkness and closeness to death that we grow.
In other words, all valuable work needs to involve some kind of symbolic death. The work we do should be deemed worth dying for. Only then are we moving in the right direction. Yes, it's harsh (and so is this headline). But it's the truth. It doesn't necessarily have to kill you. But it should make you a better person.