Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Facebook Sociopaths

Facebook has created a new generation of sociopaths.  It has created a forum for people to "feel" emotion by the click of a button.  Who needs actual interaction when you can just hit "like"?  As if the total lack of meaningful empathy wasn't enough, people have been given a place to vent all their pent up rage and bitterness they're unable to showcase in their everyday lives.  Comment wars, marital infidelity spurred on by the ease of reconnecting to old flames and finding new flames to connect with.  All of this and more in the social media era.  It's really unfair to single out Facebook in this mess.

When families aren't being destroyed by some argument on Facebook, people are having their lives destroyed by jealousy, feelings of inadequacy, and subsequent depression.  That's right.  Your time on Facebook has been shown to be a contributing factor to your depression.  Skim over the article I linked to above.

The problem is that while everyone is looking at everyone else's life they are either consciously or subconsciously comparing lives.  The depression sets in when they see friends and family posting pictures and updates of the positive moments.  It creates the impression that everyone is having a great time while you're the only person who has struggles.  It can also trigger feelings of jealousy or inadequacy when people are posting pictures of a new car, an awesome vacation, dinner at a fancy restaurant, and anything else most people can't afford without accruing an egregious amount of debt.
After all, most people aren't taking pictures of themselves sitting around stressed out about bills, stressing out while opening their bills, sitting at a mechanic's garage wondering what's going to go wrong next, or the year's worth of nonsense they put up with at work to pay for that awesome car, vacation, dinner, and good time.

The truth is that we all have low points.  We just don't broadcast these moments in our lives for everyone to see.  Look at your own profile and chances are your profile shows pictures of the good things in your life.  Unless, of course, you're a sharer.  Your profile may be a bit of a downer, but that's not bad.  Most people don't share unless they can brag.  Don't think you're the only one that has times of struggle.  You're not, I promise.

In the opening I mentioned infidelity. I wasn't just filling space.  A link to Facebook and adultery has been observed.  In the link provided it mentions a study about the connection.  It also gives an example of how it happens.  It talks about a couple that was nearly torn apart from the husband adding an ex and communicating back and forth with her.

This happens, as mentioned in the story above, when people reconnect with former significant others.  It seemingly happens to couples whose marriages haven't matured, but that's not the point and it also doesn't mean that couples who've been together for awhile is immune to this.  The point is that it is giving spouses a way to go behind the other's back to potentially reignite a past relationship.  The fact that Facebook time results in less relationship time only aggravates the problem.  Arguably the most damming aspect is that spousal neglect of each other allows them to feel justified in acting unfaithfully in their relationships.  You can imagine the person thinking, "But, this person pays attention to me!"

As for the title of this article, a callousness is taking over people.  Emotions are watered down to a mere click of a button; you are cheating yourself of genuine emotion.  Confrontations are increased because of the lack of accountability of a legitimate face to face encounter.   Insult people to their face and you risk a broken jaw.

The result is that we have cold detachment with only a reflection of real empathy.  This starts out as faux bravery and turns into a way of life.  As your Internet dependence grows you are increasingly isolated.  This isolation when coupled with your online sociopathic tendencies starts to bleed through to your interactions outside of the Internet.  We've started to see it in the increase of social unrest.  This isn't just among the younger generation.  You've seen some of the offensive and violent actions of the elder generations at Trump rallies.  The younger generation is more prevalent in this loss of civility and this is because of a warped upbringing that was Internet centric.  The older generations had some manners beat into them through years of forced interactions with other humans, so they are more resistant to the seductive forces of the Internet.

This resistance is breaking down.  We need to get a hold of ourselves.  Self discipline and genuine empathy is needed.  We must remember that we are actually conversing with human beings. Whether they deserve it or not you need to be respectful.  We are bearing the fruits of losing this respect.  We live in a society that screeches incessantly about tolerance, acceptance, and love.  Yet, we see a hate filled social anarchy taking shape in our midst.  Everyone is offended and ready to verbally assault you because you have the audacity to disagree with them.

I would add a link to some supporting evidence of my point here, but do I have to?   Just watch the news.  Consciously observe your daily encounters.  By that I mean have your normal back and forth, but just be conscious what is being said and how it's being said.  Is there tension? Anger? Sarcasm?  Do you or does the other person seem offended or do either of seem to acting unnecessarily confrontational? Something is broken and if we don't learn to control ourselves it will only get worse as these broken individuals raise children.  The next generation stands absolutely no chance of normality.

I will cut off here.  I want to discuss the decline of our culture next and this is starting to intersect more than I had originally planned.  I don't want to repeat myself more than necessary.  So, remember to respect others, get more face time with those you love, stop taking yourselves so seriously, and learn to feel again.  I'll try to take my own advice.

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