7 Ways Facebook Encourages Bad Behaviour

Facebook is a great thing. And like all great things, it's truly horrible. I enjoy posting silliness just as much as the next guy, but Facebook has a habit of encouraging what in real-life society would considered a faux-pas, at best, and sometimes gross narcissism at its worst. Facebook gives a megaphone to every single person with a computer and an internet connection. There's a reason, I think, that in past times only a few voices were heard and that may have something to do with the fact that only a few were worth hearing. People love attention, they love being 'social' as marketers have insisted we call it. Upon some further examination a lot of these behaviours don't appear very social at all. They take some of the facets of social interaction, but leave out the important costs and requirements.

1. Validation For Nothing

In a conversation with a human person in real life, for example, you can't prattle on about yourself for hours without asking anything about the other person. Well, you can, but there are very few people who will stand for that. You may not get a second date. On Facebook (Or Twitter, or Pintrest or whatever is in vogue right now - I know saying 'In Vogue' is not in vogue, by the way) there is no such restriction. You can post all the gym pics you like. You can talk about your diet or whatever dumb political or religious views you have and as a result you get likes, because most of your dumb friends are just like you. Facebook (and Google and whole bunch of other companies) are becoming increasingly good at predicting what it is you want to see and showing you exactly that - and nothing else.

It's easy to encourage this kind of bad behaviour because there is no negative feedback to these people - there's no one with the balls to say to someone's face 'hey buddy, tone it down a bit.' They might get de-friended! All you get are the people that enjoy this one particular thing and if you're broadcasting yourself to several hundred people at a time, there are bound to be people that agree with whatever inane bullshit you're saying. You can post almost anything  and some idiot will agree with it. Shit, Hitler had a girlfriend.

2. Image Crafting

By posting whatever it is you think that people want to hear or see from you, you are deliberately crafting a particular image of yourself. This, in itself, isn't a horribly bad thing - but when you consider the long term implications of this you realise it encourages some bad behaviour. You're only going to post the very best of the things that happen to you. Nobody, bar some comedians, are going to be putting negative images and perspectives about themselves into the world. This has a more cumulative and diffused effect than the previous post point as it mainly affects other people.

People see everyone around them is doing planks whilst eating organic kale and quinoa salad with their gorgeous partner at the coolest music festival in town and they think 'jeez my life is shit, I'm going to go eat four pizzas'. Sure, you might be having an amazing time everywhere you go, but wouldn't be a tad more honest (and realistic) to throw in something about your day that isn't amazing? Something that doesn't bore people or infuriate them? Maybe just sharing an article, or something interesting or funny. What people unwittingly do when they image craft is that they're creating a culture of perfection. They're using Facebook as a way of performing their identity. 

The sad part is as soon as someone puts something real on Facebook (something that isn't a list of cats arseholes or whatever) they get slammed down. They're bringing down the mood - as though life should be one big party all the time. As though the unsubscribe button wasn't a thing. Which it is. I've checked. Thoroughly. Image crafting is bad for the crafter as well as the person being marketed to.

3. Narcissism

Kind of a related point to needless image crafting - but aren't we sort of breeding a whole bunch of little narcissists with Facebook and Instagram? At what point did we all decide that taking pictures of ourselves making duck faces and putting it on the internet for anyone to see was an acceptable pastime? Could you imagine someone from the 1900's getting pictures of themselves done and blown up onto billboards so people could... like them? It all seems so odd. I know I must read like an old man, I just don't understand why that's relevant. What is the point of that? Doesn't it just breed a culture of people who are obsessed with themselves and how much everyone loves them? Measuring your self worth in terms of social engagement probably isn't the healthiest way to build a sense of self. I imagine.

It seems like a scene from Dante's inferno - everyone too busy broadcasting themselves to listen to anyone else for a second. 

4. Fake Relationship Maintenence  

Relationships that should've died long ago are being preserved by the magic that is Facebook. Time was you could abjectly forget someone and not have to be subjected to their lunacy on a regular basis. You only have to see those people that you actually see. But now everyone has 500 friends they actually feel like they have 500 friends! Everyone becomes the same. There are no circles of friends, no priorities. Everyone has this mill of rotating acquaintance relationships which we're all forced to treat equally.

There's no room for actual conversation because I'm already caught up on all the small-talk. I know you graduated your science degree because I saw it. I saw you have a new girlfriend and you met her at Uni and she's a waitress. I know you started a new job. There's no small talk left. Oh well, I'm sure the Facebook algorithm will show me something that happens in your life once it deems it of appropriate importance. 

5. Another Way To Crash Your Car

Apparently 21% of us use social media whilst driving - as though podcasts, music, a freeway and a family member's life in your hands as you drive a two tonne piece of rolling metal down the street wasn't enough stimulus for your dumb ass.

6. Relative Anonymity Never Made People Better 

That's... that's pretty much it. People are horrible.

7. Cry for Help

'Man that was horrible. Never doing that again.' Something which begs people to get involved. I get it, people need sympathy and occasionally, to know that people love them. It's fine. Just do it in private. Not everything has to be a big show. You're having a hard day? That sucks, lets talk about it over a coffee. What real consolation are you going to get from someone saying 'Hope ur okay babes xoxox'. Really, I'm asking. It seems like people are using social media as an emotional crutch, and sustained usage of any crutch leads to stunted development.

I want to finish this off by saying I enjoy Facebook. It's delivered a lot of great things into my life. Things I definitely would not have had if all I had was a rotary phone and my dick in my hands. I guess what I'm saying is; I'm afraid. This is unlike any era in human history preceding us and for once we have no map with which to guide ourselves. We were largely alone. It's scary, and I guess I just want people to transcend their instincts and use this remarkable gift of technology for better, not worse. I believe they can.

I hope I'm right. 

To get my own meaningless narcissism direct to your device follow me on twitter @JorgeTsipos and listen to my free, weekly podcast Unnatural Selection.

A Coffee

Nirvana strikes when you least expect it. A moment of utter clarity and oneness. It's rare, and it only happens when you're not trying to get there. As soon as you think about it, it's gone. It can be a nothing thing. This day it was a coffee.

I'm an accountant. Kind of. I have no qualifications. I work for my dad because he showed me how to enter the numbers into the computer and make everything balance to zero. Which always seemed strange to me. It's a great feeling when you've done everything right and it all just slots into place like a jigsaw for young kids or stupid people. At the same time it's weirdly unsatisfying to get there. You're back at zero. You've not progressed. You're essentially back at the start. Because of the nature of the beast there's always more numbers to put in, more months to reconcile. It's like running on a treadmill, you're sweating at the end, but you really didn't get anywhere, did you?

So I was on the treadmill one day and I decided that I wanted a break. I got a recommendation for a good place for coffee from a girl and decided to follow it up. It was more than a few blocks from work, but I wanted the walk. I wanted the crisp Melbourne air. I stepped outside and it started pissing rain. Typical.

The place was full of hipster douchebags and I loved it. It had chairs on the ceiling, you know the kind of place I'm talking about. Tiny little place, no awning, no signs, lots of Uni dudes with uncomfortably sculpted facial hair. The kind of place where they have different kinds of coffee to choose from, with words like 'blend' and lots of percentages I couldn't quite determine the functionality of. I ordered a latte and the guy looked at me like I was stupid.

"You want sugar with that?"

"Yeah, two please."

He scoffed as if I'd just ordered a well-done steak in a fancy restaurant. I looked at him.

"Name." he said, just like that. It wasn't a question, somehow.

"Jorge. Thanks."

I sat down and took my hat off. Today I was wearing a hat. I belonged. The coffee was ready and then the opposite of the snarky douche handed it to me with a smile. She was hipster perfection. Bob cut. Nose stud. The works. She was gorgeous.

"Jorge?"

"Yeah thanks," and something from my reptilian brain made me say

"You look beautiful."

"What?"

"Nothing. Thanks for the coffee."

I walked into the rain as my face burned. What a fucking thing to say, I felt like I was going girl crazy.

I sat down on a bench and pulled out a cigarette and lit it. The coffee as great and even better with a cigarette. Then Nirvana hit. Sure it was fake Nirvana, chemical Nirvana, but it still counts. Who had time to wait around for the real thing? Not that all the shitty things in the world disappeared, but they weren't crashing around in the forefront of my head anymore. They melted into the din of the crowd for a while. Lehman Brothers. Goldman Sachs. Economic downturn. Sovereign debt crisis. Greece. Burma. Egypt. Sudan. Somalia. Syria. They were all still there but I didn't care. For a moment, just a moment, I was a dude on a bench and nothing else. Not a citizen of the world or a reader of books or a big thinker. I was just present in my own skin. A guy sucking on a cigarette and a coffee watching the world pass by - and that was okay.

You might judge me for smoking, but I only do it occasionally. Hell, there's lots of self-destructive shit in this book, you're going to draw the line at cigarettes? It feels good. People always say 'how can people start smoking nowadays, knowing what we know?' or 'why do people take drugs, don't they know it's killing them?' or course they know they just don't care. It FEELS GOOD. They wouldn't do it if it didn't FEEL GOOD. And sometimes, more than sometimes, people need to feel not shitty. They need their little Nirvanas in-between shifts so they don't kill someone. Nobody thinks that the drinks that those sky cunts serve flying customers really save lives, but they do. They really do. There’s no stats on that.

I went back to work, smiling. For a while. And then I got a nosebleed. Story of my life.

This is a short story from Jorge's (eventually) upcoming book of short stories. Follow him on twitter @JorgeTsipos to get his daily madness and listen to his weekly podcast Unnatural Selection in order to complete the brainwashing.

Should I Take Antidepressants?

Nobody thinks depression is a good idea - but it exists regardless. Theories for its development range from an effective way to keep close family members near the home during a time of grief and thus away from the danger that killed the respective dead person in the first place to a simple chemical imbalance. God's hilarious mistake. It's easy (and fun!) to conjure up whatever evolutionary-biology fantasy three-way you want to to explain it, the simple fact is it's here and here to stay, the why isn't so important.

In the history of the human race never has there been more prosperity than there is today. We in the Western World (whatever that's supposed to mean) are graced with record low infant mortality rates, longer lives, better medical care, higher literacy rates, better social mobility (etc etc etc) than ever before. By almost every metric, life is better now than any period in human history. So why are so many people so fucking sad?

I'd like to refer you to Mazlow's Hierarchy of Needs, so I will. Here it is.

Here is the thing I said!

Here is the thing I said!

The the general thrust is that only once your basic needs are met can you worry about higher functioning, complex emotional thoughts like existentialism and purpose. You don't really have the luxury of worrying about WHY you exist when you're running, naked through the jungle from the thing that's trying to stop you from existing. It's lower down on the list of priorities. I'd be rather inclined to agree with this assessment if it didn't make it seem like people who don't have a job can't be worried about self esteem too. Or anything else that's on the list. Things just aren't as dramatic as all that nowadays - there's no sabre tooth tiger coming to get you anymore. I hope. The two ideas aren't mutually exclusive and to conflate them is actually a disservice. 

Perhaps it is because of this Hierarchy of Needs, perhaps not. Let's say it is. That would correlate to what people seem to understand - the modern human is more depressed and yet more fortuitous than ever before. It's because we've had things so easy (relatively speaking) that we're so depressed. Like Tyler Durden once said "We are the middle children of history."

I'm an artist (sort of) and so I like to look at everything through that kind of lens. I hear people say a lot that they definitely are depressed (almost bragging about it) but they then go on to say that they wouldn't want to take medication because it would brainwash them, or perhaps if they were happy they wouldn't be able to function as the kind of artist they are. This is a fallacy. Medication, in the physiological 'medicine-goes-on-the-sore-part' thinking is a way of treating something that's broken. If you're brain is broken (and I'm not saying it is) it may be worth trying medication. The simple fact is that if you don't like it, or feel the long, wet hand of Big Pharma creeping up your pants you can always stop. You can always go back to being the same old miserable bastard you always were. You are in charge of the thing, and thus, can put what you want into your own body.

I'm not a doctor, and I would never presume to give medical advice, but my general position on medication is this: If a doctor you trust and who knows you (and your medical history) prescribes antidepressants, it's probably worth a try. I've been on Lexapro (An SSRI - Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) for just over a year now and it has helped me dramatically - it should be noted alongside cognitive-behavioural therapy, constant exercise and diet and a raft of other measures all geared to my betterment as a human. I'm wonderful, is what I'm saying. 

People (my past self amongst them) say stupid things like they don't want to take antidepressants because it'll change who they are. Yeah, that's the whole point. Maybe if you're miserable the whole time it's probably best to be someone else. Someone who isn't a reclusive wanker. Someone who can be happy and productive and actually has the motivation to make art, rather than just theorise about it. 

So the answer to the original question 'Should I take antidepressants?' is this: Maybe you should try anti-depressants. If your doctor thinks. If you like. For a bit. There should be no stigma in admitting you need a little hand every now and then and getting it. You might just find, like I did, that there's a whole bunch of people that you already know that are already on the same thing. It's all well and good to try and white-knuckle your way through it but I imagine you'll stress yourself (and your loved ones) out just a little bit less, if you try and get some help - be that counselling, meds or maybe just keeping a journal. It's all about what works for you. Cherry-pick the best bits and keep battling.

 

Jorge Tsipos also is part of a weekly comedy podcast called Unnatural Selection, which is nothing like this article! Follow Jorge on twitter!