The REVOLUTION Starts Here: Delete Your Facebook.
(No offense, Facebook)
I used to steal coffee mugs from breakfast establishments, but have since grown out of that. Never mind, that’s a lie. I took a mug from a Ruby’s Diner in Newport Beach a couple of weeks ago- I did it to feel alive again, it didn’t last. I did it to rejuvenate my rebel past, it didn’t work. Since then I’ve been walking the imaginary line between adulthood and what I used to think was adulthood. Searching for validation in failed relationship after failed relationship, dodging student loans, and being otherwise generally irresponsible. “What is happening?” and, “Is this OK?” Two daily mantras, both met with a resounding, “No!” by sunset and followed closely by wine out on my deck. What to do? Stealing coffee mugs isn’t cutting it anymore.
I’m here to tell you to delete your Facebook. If you have to, keep Instagram, but don’t follow any celebrities, and don’t search for strangers. We have more mental health awareness memes because the millennials are creating more mental health problems (for themselves.) And they don’t want to hear this, because they’re a defensive bunch. I can tell you this, though, because I am a millennial, technically. I don’t identify as millennial, though (even though ‘identifying’ as ‘non-millennial’ totally blows my cover as a millennial.) I identify as a Gen Xer. This was the term we learned in 5th or 6th grade, sometime after computer lab and before anyone ever said the word millennial. Generation X are the early thirties wing of the millennial craze. We learned how to use our Macintosh computers on the Oregon Trail. Dial up America Online was life, with our pagers close behind. Back when “143” meant something and a pound sign was just a pound sign. Back when I was burning CDs and stealing coffee mugs. If you don’t remember when Facebook was a private, more restricted and less cool version of MySpace for nerds in East coast colleges, then you really need to listen up.
Seriously, delete your Facebook. Delete snap chat. Absolutely, unequivocally, delete your dating apps.
We are all at least a little aware that we live in the technology/information, post internet era. It has changed everything. We are more connected than ever before to all parts of the globe that satellites can stream. And yet, we grow more isolated, emotionally stunted, desensitized, frustrated, overwhelmed. Quantity has not only replaced quality, but also decency. With all the exterior tools we have seemingly gained, we are losing our internal capacity to utilize them. The old, “It’s not you, it’s me” has been replaced with ghosting- which is a cute, hashtagable term used to disguise the act of totally devaluing and ignoring another human without any personal accountability or basic moral consideration.
I have long since held the belief that, on the whole, human behavior and human morality have evolved very little in comparison to all the trimmings of our new industrial, digital, global environment. If you take any serious sneak peek at history it becomes clear that the illusion of any golden age or finer time is just that, an illusion. A story about a story with grave omissions and startlingly “alternative” facts. Ours (humanity) is a history of wars and genocides and atrocities and injustices galore. Although we have made progress, it has been slowed and fought behind the scenes at every turn. I know what you’re thinking, “What does Mark Zuckerberg have to do with any of this?” and, “But I like twinkling cat ear filters because my eyes look pretty, and hello? So cute.”
It is Mark’s fault. It is our fault. Selfie-culture is doing a number on not just our collective self-esteem, but on our ability to foster empathy, sympathy, thoughtfulness, and genuine human connection. Millennials, especially, are so overwhelmed with choice, information, “fake news,” and left or right swipes, that we are losing our ability to relate to one another, to develop healthy attachments, foster joy, demand justice, retain short to medium term memory, and dissect meaning from our lives and relationships. Studies show toddlers are addicted to their iPads and iPhones and Androids. And so are we. Our mind-numbing scrolling is not filling a void, but it is creating one.
Don’t misunderstand me- technology, the inter-webs, can be a powerful tool, and the ease of connectivity and information sharing have absolutely brought some truly remarkable advancements and abilities literally to our fingertips. But what good is a platform without something to say? And what good are heartfelt words lost in a hashtag? Or what use can we make of a message without adequate attention span, empathy, and the perseverance required to bring the meat back to the bone? There are so many important matters in our time (as there are in any time) and millennials must work to build our character back, strengthen our attention spans, and weaken our complicity. Vitality is not to be found in shoplifting restaurant glassware, and identity is not developed through a perfectly curated Instagram. We must slow down a bit. Remember what it is to sit with a thought for more than a millisecond worth of scrolling. There is power in small steps, physical movement creates energy. Let a post incite or inspire, but don’t move on to cat videos immediately. Sit with the uncomfortable or ecstatic feeling, go out in the world and bring energy to your thought, talk to people, do. We are losing our back bone. We are losing our memories. We are losing our ability to connect and respect (I’m looking at you, Bumble and Tinder.)
Delete your Facebook.
Delete your Facebook application. Start there. Remove it from your thumb’s reach. Re-learn how to say, “hello” to strangers, and, “good bye” to the person you’ve been dating but no longer want to see.
Try it? Let’s see what happens.