Facebook totally pissed me off today. I got a notification that suggested I watch other people’s pages. Not an offensive suggestion in and of itself, but the reason for doing it and the priority it implied made me want to slam my laptop closed and be like, ‘I’m out!’
While I’m certainly not new to Facebook, I admit to being a ‘just the basics’ kind of girl when it comes to how I prefer to engage my technology. I did wonder how ‘watching’ a page was different than ‘liking’ a page. Here’s what it said:
Track the progress of 5 or more Pages you want to watch. You’ll see how many likes they get so you can keep up.
So I can keep up?
Seriously? That’s what we’re doing? Gross. Not interested.
See, I don’t want to keep up with you. I don’t want to strive to be as good as or better than anyone.
I don’t want to compete with you.
I am not going to enter a race against you, even if that is the cultural status quo, even if those messages dropping all over us claim that we’re always and already in a race. Screw that. I don’t want to surpass or beat or win.
The comparison game, the ‘I need to have what that person has’ game, no one is winning at that game.
I want to love you. I want to know you. I want to share in the common threads of our humanity and explore, in awe, our differences and uniqueness. I want to know your suffering and share mine. I want to collaborate with you on making things better, for ourselves, for each other, for everyone. I want to investigate the dark and insidious parts of our being that keep us from sharing, helping and holding each other up. I want to excavate and eradicate the lower and compulsive parts of our egoic nature that can’t help but kill each other off for our own self-gratification and soothing.
If I were to ‘watch your page’ and see how many likes you have (which honestly is not anywhere on my list of things I care about measuring,) it would be because I like you, because I’m cheering for you. I’d want to put my loving energy on watching you grow, seeing your ideas spread, knowing your offering is being seen and received.
But keep up with you? Be someone that you feel you need to keep up with? How can that be done without some measure of pain? I do understand the value of healthy competition, but this doesn’t feel healthy to me. Healthy competition includes real connection, an ultimate shared goal and conscious awareness that it’s just a game.
What I love about social media is that we can make it what we want to be. It’s a technological skeleton for our cultural psyche to fill out and express itself. The ads and suggestions are built from our own ways of engaging with this platform and as annoying as those may be and as much as the messages often aim to perpetuate our feelings of inadequacy, it’s cool to observe the reflection of ourselves as we express ourselves and our interests online.
I don’t push back at the notion that I may want to watch someone’s page or that someone may want to watch mine. But the suggestion that it should be in order to keep up with one another, the suggestion that it should be important to us to race each other strips away the neutrality of what this framework ought to be, and preys on the parts of our humanity that keeps us at war with each other and at war within ourselves, scratching to climb, earn and achieve, locked in an obsession with comparing and perfecting and arriving.
Trying to ‘keep up’ or earn approval through a projected self image leads to loneliness. Full stop.
I want more than that. I want more than that for you, for all of us. The only racing I’m up for is racing away from the lies we tell ourselves about what’s important in this culture and racing toward love and connection and fullness.