January 15, 2017

Confessions of a jaded Facebook user

I have a confession to make. I spend way too much time surfing the net and reading online discussions: mostly on Facebook, but occasionally on forums or under blog posts. And I’m not the only one! The Internet offers not only information, but stimulating dialogue on thousands of topics, from social and political issues to health and parenting; not to mention leisure pursuits such as reading, movies and games.

However, more and more often I find that over the past few years, my readiness to actually participate in those discussions has waned. Instead of speaking my mind, I’ll just stay on the sidelines and mutely look on. 


Well, obviously, first of all I should limit the time I’m wasting on unproductive online activities! But apart from that, at some point in the not-too-distant past I realized that online discussions, as interesting as they are, can ultimately be frustrating: shallow words exchanged on complex topics where there’s often no unambiguous “truth” or obviously correct solution.

Moreover, those discussions usually lack a clear frame, a predefined set of assumptions or reference points. It’s like debating how much sugar a cake needs, when some of the discussants assume we’re baking an apple pie, while others think it’s a pecan pie, or a cheesecake, or brownies. Someone has just suggested using stevia instead of sugar, someone else is ranting about the health consequences of eating too much sugar, and yet another person has chimed in saying it would be best to just fry some pancakes. All the different opinions are perfectly valid and there’s no clear line between right and wrong, but the discussion can go on for hours, and does it lead to any sort of constructive outcome? Not really.

One might argue that coming to an agreement isn’t the point here; people take part in online discussions simply because they want to voice their opinion and/or share their personal experiences. I've felt like that too. When people are talking, and you have something to say on a given topic, it’s tempting to chime in. But the older I get, the more often I find that the conversations on Facebook (or at least some of them) make me feel a bit jaded, and tired, and I’d rather not take part in the chatter anymore.

I just wish that “jaded” feeling would translate into more time spent writing! I'm guilty as hell of passively glancing through my Facebook feed and/or surfing the net throughout the day, losing precious minutes that add up to hours, but somehow I can't shake the habit.

Image courtesy of nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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