Ugh. That is how I have felt about social networking since its advent. I am not really a virtual person in any sense. Not when it comes to human relations. I am an in the flesh kind of person. I don’t even talk on the phone much anymore, which would shock my teenage-self.
What led me to Facebook? I think it was a personal experiment about my own sense of isolation in this ever crumbling society we call home. We can talk about that phenomenon later. I was thinking about it yesterday, and wondered what it is we humans have in common? What leads us to sites like Myspace and Facebook? People seem to be drawn into it, to need it. We haven’t had the internet very long, so what is it that is so appealing?
When I was very young and raising my two children, I remember thinking quite often that “it wasn’t supposed to be this way. We were not meant to be so alone.” The human animal evolved in tribal communities. Like most predators, we are pack animals. We really aren’t much different then we were tens of thousands of years ago (that can be another discussion as well), and our behavior patterns, our psyches, our reactionary patterns can be observed in this way quite readily.
If we were living as our ancestors did we would be living in cohesive units–extended family and a tribal community. Our needs for social interaction would be reinforced on a daily basis. There would be a greater familial hierarchy that we answer to as well as a tribal hierarchy. This is the human way. What happens when this doesn’t exist?
Social breakdown. Neurosis. Anxiety. Depression. A sense of aloneness. Greater and greater incidences of human social illnesses like spousal abuse, child abuse, mental illness, aggression, addiction, and inappropriate violence. People in the modern age do not have a cohesive sense of themselves. They do not know who they are, why they exist, or what they are supposed to be doing with their lives–what their greater purpose is.
This leads to a quest to find these things. This leads to a marketplace of artificial tribalism. This leads to things like Facebook where we congregate in an artificial world and seek out others who knew us when, or who are blood related, or who we can “meet online” and “be friends with.” Really? Can you be friends with someone you cannot touch in person?
I don’t care what anybody thinks they think about this, but humans need touch. I don’t just mean sex, I mean the little things we don’t even notice we are doing: A hand on another person’s arm, a pat on the shoulder, a hug, a kiss. We need contact the same way our cats and dogs do–we are social animals and part of the way we evolved was very, very physical.
I won’t go into the social data and research on the effects of touch, or the lack of it, on infants and the elderly. It’s out there for you if you want to consult references. You don’t have to look any further than your own life. What is the effect on you when you are alone? When you are in a relationship where there is no touching? When you don’t have human contact? We start to get idgy. We start to roam around in the world, or else we hole up and get very nihilistic and depressed. It’s universal. Face it, we need others.
So, for now, we turn to Facebook. We look for people we knew in the past and reaffirm each other’s sense of our own histories in this life. We confirm how we appear to each other, and we reminisce our mutual sense of co-existence. After looking at the way we now live as humans for over twenty years I have chosen to reject the incongruity of our common lifestyle. I am trying to go back to the way we evolved, not only socially, but physically, nutritionally, and in all ways.
It’s time, with the things that are in store for us in the near future, that we reassess our lives and consider alternative ways of living. We aren’t going to have a choice anyway. We are at a crossroads in our evolution as human animals. We are gifted with the ability to make conscious choices about our futures if we pay attention and think about it. It’s time we stopped ignoring the symptoms of our collective maladaptive behavior and realize that “what’s wrong with the world today” is the way we are living.
If you know me, you know I am preparing to live a very different kind of life. If you are curious, stay tuned. I’ll share some of it here.