Friday, March 23, 2012

Why, You Know What, I Dislike Social Networking

As salaam alaikum,

Yesterday, after a glorious day spent frolicking around after getting myself excused from clinic early in the 84 degree weather, having to pull a wrinkled skirt and my favorite orange shirt out of the still-untouched spring pile of casual clothing in my closet...I waited for my friend to come home from her dinner with another friend so we could hang out.

These days, with another of my close friends married, with my disastrous foray into the world of dating with an ex that hurt my feelings more than any living human being has managed to do, perpetual singleness with no hoped-and-prayed-for marriage in friend is all I've got sometimes.

I could call my parents, but my father has a mania of talking about Christianity these days, and the hope that I will "gain my senses" and convert, but ahhh...that's too tiring for this late at night. And I already talked to my mother for two hours today, and they're no doubt eating right that's out.

So, anyway, I find myself alone. I don't do well with no one to talk to. I don't need to go out, I don't need to watch movies or eat food or anything. I don't need the person to live there...I just need someone in my life during down times to talk to. And it doesn't have to be one person, it can alternate. I just want someone there in my life when I need to talk to someone. And when there's no one there in my time of need...yes...I get lonely.

As Paulo Viola said, "Solidão é lava que cobre tudo." Loneliness is lava that covers everything...

Thick, hot and tarry, it covers the memory of my beautiful day, it covers the brown of my skin after hours walking in the sun, it covers the fun conversation I had with my mother, the happiness I get when I listen to music, the excitement of watching the last days of my novela, the quiet of the night...

It's lava that covers everything.

So I feel lonely. God forbid I actually write that as a status on my gchat, no less my facebook.

There are always those people who criticize you for posting negative moods in such a public place. "People ask about you," my friend told me of a few of my gchat statuses. "They ask me, is Chinyere okay?"

That is an affront to me. You worried about me, why don't you ask me, you reading my gchat statuses that closely? Does it cost you to type a few words into a little chat bubble. Or do you not know me well enough to comment? Then don't comment!

So, I stopped posting mood negative statuses, and I always tend to try to avoid those on facebook, because similar criticism has been there forever. "I don't know how people could post such things in such a public space."

But this doesn't make sense to me. People are only supposed to post when they're happy, so people can like their status? And of negative posts, it's okay to be indignant, disappointed within bounds...but not lonely, sad or depressed. Then, your mental health is questioned for posting such sentiments. You're just looking for attention. Something.

Why? Why can I only post statuses that are happy, are mood neutral or are, at worst, indignant? Loneliness and despair aren't parts of the human experience? In order to not upset the delicate farce of a persona on a social networking site or with a social networking tool, I'm supposed to only express a certain range of acceptable emotions?

You know what? I actually don't like social networking, then! How artificial. How BS!

Don't get me wrong. I know that net etiquette means only as much as you want it to mean, so I'm actually free to be as lonely and depressed as I want on the internet. I know what I have at stake. I have friends on facebook that aren't my confidants, and they could take that information and twist it against me. It's too much out there to put my vulnerabilities up for anyone I see. And more people could have access to my gchat statuses than I know, a friend told me.

So no, I don't plan to go and post, "I'm lonely :(" as would be an accurate assessment of my "status," my "what's on your mind."

But why am I so comfortable posting the happy? The smiles? The laughs. The positive things.

Both are indications of you being incredibly permissive with who you let into your life and emotions.

So on these sites and with these tools, I present for generic people and friends alike to see, a two-dimensional version of myself with a small range of emotions, random YouTube clips and mix-matched politics du jour. It masquerades as a representation of me, but it's barely a representation of anything meaningful in my life.

So why do I keep it up? Why is it there?

That's a good question.

I use social networking mainly to keep up with people who I don't need to read their profiles to know anything about. My family. In fact, I've rarely read a family member's profile. Not that I haven't done the occasional facebook stalk of old friends from phases in my life past...and even people I did not know who were connected to said friends...but the thing that keeps me there is, yes, networking with new friends and people who I'd otherwise not chance to meet and maintaining contact with family. Gchat is really for me to talk to the few people I speak with consistently there and to communicate briefly with project mates and other brief academic interactions.

So maybe I should say goodbye to statuses?

But it's so darn hard once you have a place where you can get affirmation or just discuss any little thing that comes to your mind, perhaps make a connection with someone who you wouldn't even think would appreciate that YouTube clip of "Why Can't We Be Friends."


And that's why I have a blog. The audience is more limited, and though it demands a little bit more literary prowess for me to churn out the paragraphs here, I can say whatever I want without loved ones and randoms thinking I'm suicidal. The sentiments are fleshed out, and while they're still strong, they're buffered by a lot more information and protected from the masses. I can be more my full self here.

So there you have it. I am lonely. I've exhausted my social resources for the day and I am not asleep and I want to talk to someone, anyone, about almost anything, just as long as I'm sharing that with someone, and I've got no one right now with no promise of anyone to return. Lonely. I feel like a child who has just developed object permanence and freaks out whenever her mother leaves the room, with the uncertainty of "will she return?" Every day I pray for a man in my life, with the hope that he will fill that space so I'll not have to be lonely so much anymore. Every day I pray that I'm not deluding myself into thinking that a man in my life will be more than he can ever be, more than he can most likely be. More than I will get.

"Loneliness is lava that covers everything. Bitterness in my mouth. I smiled it's leaden teeth..."

My loneliness is more than just being lonely. It's the fear that this may just be my baseline for life. And I don't like that. Who would? Who would like that, and who would want that?

But social networking sites and tools have no place for such sentiments, such feelings that are so much a part of me that I networking has no space for the likes of me...

...and yet, I'll be on facebook and gchat for a while longer, to stay connected with family and chat with my closest friends.

I just kind of don't like it.


  1. You make a good point, I think it boils down to self-censorship, these places are supposed to be a space to express yourself, but they don't work well.... because you can't really say exactly what's on your mind.

    a lot of people have that love-hate relationship with social networks, my fb page was closed for a whole calendar year, partially because it's just a weird space, like you have to present a certain aspect of yourself to the world, not all of you...

    had a similiar thing happen with my blog recently, I wanted to vent, well process a conversation I had with a friend, but then I remembered... oh no, she is a subscriber! that awkward moment... I wanted to express my feelings about our conversation, away from her, so I never mentioned how weird and confused our talk made me, and then just was I was about to blog about it, it hits me... not such a good idea.

    if it's any consonance, you can always talk to me! ha, ha... I'm six hours ahead at the moment, but never too far from my computer...

  2. I really enjoyed this post (as many of your other posts)! This is the reason why I don't feel comfortable with social networks like FB, they don't feel like the space to express oneself so I never do (usually just post news/info), that is what blogging is for to express yourself! and unlike FB etc, blogging shows more about who you are and what you believe, than a few words could ever so it leaves little room to start questioning one's overall wellbeing. And yes feeling down/sad/lonely is part of the human journey just as happiness, but most people are too afraid to be that vulnerable. There is power in being raw, vulnerable and expressing oneself honestly and embracing one's emptions. And that is what I like about your blog. As for love I think trust the path and the unknown, we don't know where the journey leads us but take it and embrace it with an open spirit, while in meantime focusing on at the matter in hand. Congrats on the match! InshaAllah khair!