It’s Election Day. This election cycle’s ugliness exceeds all before. I am reading Amy Voscamp’s A Thousand Gifts and the section I sat reading yesterday was about the ugliness in the world. It made me think of Joseph Conrad’s book, The Heart of Darkness and the horror. Am I part of the horror? The ugliness? The flash thought came that in the last six years, Facebook consumes time and mollifies me. Before Facebook, I wrote a novel, started a second one. True, work has gotten crazy and my business has become stressful. True that love showed up and I have another person with whom to spend my time but if I am honest…if we are all honest…Facebook has become an opioid. Facebook consumes time, agitates factions, homogenizes and pigeon holes us. Our opinions round off, aggregate and merge and diversity starts to disappear. I have fewer original ideas but rather just share other people’s postings which aren’t their original ideas. And, to top it all off…it tracks me, captures my movements and generates an electronic fingerprint of who the Machine thinks I am. But I am more than that.
I am deeper and more intricate and nuanced that Facebook’s algorithms can codify. My likes, humor, gastronomic tastes, music interests, leisure activities and political opinions are few more faceted than can be captured by Facebook. And while I want to be known and seen and (by some) understood, broadcasting myself through Facebook posts will not get me any closer to being known. And that is the messy, ugly horror of this. That is the trick. Facebook doesn’t help me be seen or known. In fact, it is all about projection and propaganda. And influence. And persuasion. And I realize….I do not want to persuade anyone. I truly believe persuasion is manipulation and in this election cycle, my posts have absolutely been about trying to persuade people, manipulate people.
What truly matters, what is really honest, is letting people be themselves and in their own journey, letting them discover themselves without manipulation. Will some still get manipulated? Will I? Yes, that is the trickery of Life. Search for the truth and the truth shall set you free. But what or how much on Facebook is TRUE? And how much of a person’s posts and likes can be used to extrapolate back to their truest self? Do I really have any capacity to know another person simply by how they post? Nope. And they can’t know me, either. Facebook is a hall of mirrors, a fun house, an illusion. It isn’t real. And if I want to be real in this one life, then it is time to exit Facebook. The longer I stay there, the more distracted I am (we all are) from the real purpose of this One Life…..loving each other and doing The Good Work. Can it be used for those things, maybe, but I know it sucks out of me the impetus and energy to be real. Facebook lets me hide, lets me withdraw.
And so, today may be an ugly day. Tomorrow may be an uglier day. There may be many, many ugly days ahead of us. But, my Creator took the ugly and made it beautiful. He takes my ugliest and makes me new and reborn. Today is my day of reflection. What does my Lord ask of me on this day? I must take one day at a time and seize this moment, this present moment, and live my fullest, truest self.