May 3, 2020

I’m addicted to Like

I'm addicted to Facebook like

“I’m not on Facebook,” she said. She’s evolved to a level I can’t comprehend. This piece of text is not for her. It’s for me. A confession of sorts.

[Reading time 5 mins]

I’ve been addicted to Facebook since 2007. In those 13 years I’ve threatened to quit numerous times. My friends smile nervously, keeping their eyes on their television set in case I steal it and sell it for my next hit (or to buy more data so I can spend more time on Facebook). To play on Facebook is just like gambling; the deck is stacked against the punter who only wins 13% of the time. The house rubs its greedy hands together as it rakes in stadia of money, 24/7, from the desperate, dim and dumbfounded. There’s so much inane, puerile drivel on Facebook (87%). But then, so help me, there are some sublime human beings that I find way more interesting than me, that keep pulling me back in. Therefore, I think I’ll always be addicted to Facebook so that I can be dumbfounded and in awe of those that are so far beyond me spiritually, emotionally and intellectually. My curious nature and need to become the best version of myself, demands that I stay. I suppose that Facebook is a metaphor for life. One has to go through a lot of shit to find the real treasure. It is apparent to me that Facebook is the ideal petri dish to mix all three together (desperate, dim and dumbfounded) and create a virus of such brainless proportions that it exceeds the limits of belief. I’m so desperate for approval from others that I create an echo chamber for those with similar beliefs to mine so that they can validate my viewpoint (and validate me). Should anyone have a counter view to mine: unfriend, unfriend, unfriend. Every now and again I stick my head over the parapet and voice my opinion. When someone eviscerates me and shoots my head off, I’m dumbfounded and offended. I‘m still trying to learn the lesson from my favourite philosopher, Carlos Castaneda: “Think about it: what weakens us is feeling offended by the deeds and misdeeds of our fellow men. Our self-importance requires that we spend most of our lives offended by someone.” Because I had a liberal mother (hand me a smoke, the baby is only due in a couple of hours) and a conservative father (Dutch Reformed minister … need I say more?), I’m a bit confused in my identity. My opinions are either right of centre or left of centre. I’m either Kumbaya My Lord or Deutschland über alles. It’s a mess. Either way, I suffer from two revolting afflictions: arrogance and condescension. Why am I so arrogant to think that anyone needs my opinion? And that my opinion will make one iota of difference? And, why do I condescendingly preach to people as if they’re desperate, dim and dumbfounded. Jung sees right through me, “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” I hate him for being right. I struggle and fail to understand myself and I think that Facebook will give me the answers. I must be dimmer than I thought. When it comes to voicing my opinion, I’m definitely dim and short a couple of million brain cells. [Mom, “Don’t worry, smoking wont harm the baby. I’ve heard that they have millions of brain cells, if he loses a few, that’s not a problem. Be a dear and hide the whisky bottle from my husband.”] If I were smarter, I’d follow the Macedon, Alexander lll’s strategy. Never attack first; counterpunch. Let your enemy make the first move so that you can find and exploit his weakness. That makes sense. On Facebook, when I make the first move I give my opponents time to pick my argument to pieces so that I feel dim. If I were smarter, I wouldn’t set my Facebook profile to ‘public’ but rather to friend view only. This way I can keep my echo chamber clean of any differing opinion. There must be a part of me that is so fucking bored that I put up a rant so that someone will fight with me. In Afrikaans, we have a saying for that, (Gooi stok in die bos en sien wat uitkom). Throw a stone in the bush and see what comes out. I sometimes think the only time I feel really alive is when I have someone to spar with, someone to engage with and someone who challenges me. If I can see how this Facebook addiction is affecting me, why don’t I quit? Is it really just as simple as the dopamine hit I get when I see a ‘like’ or comment on one of my posts? Is this what keeps me in the game? If this is the case, it’s quite pathetic, isn’t it? Because I got a D average at school, it never occurred to me to spend a bit more time on Maslow. You know that hierarchy of needs thing of his: physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem and self-actualisation. Unfortunately, 90% of South Africans can’t even claim that their physiological and safety needs are met. That is a fucking sad inditement. Pathetically, I’m trying to find love and belonging on Facebook by friending those that think like me. I’m not so sure that’s a great strategy. But Facebook gives me a promise that this can happen. Self-actualisation appears to be beyond my grasp (the more I evolve, the further away I feel from being actualised). But I think the real sticking point for me is the fourth need … esteem. That need for status and significance. I haven’t yet learned how to disappear so that others can appear. I haven’t yet learned how to put the other before me. My need for significance and approval compels me to force my views on others so that I feel like I belong and that I can be loved. I believe that trying to be significant and to leave a legacy is a futile exercise in the grand scheme of things. Take me for example … I hardly give thought to all those giants whose shoulders I stand on so that I can see further. It’s because of their ingenuity that I can enjoy all that I do today. But I can’t remember them, Mandela, Smuts, Curie, Freud, Jung, Newton, Aristotle, the guy that invented the fridge, the guy that invented the Kreepy Krauly and the genius that concocted my favourite dessert, Pavlova. My name is Jacques and I’m addicted to like!

Eccentricities that have interested me this week.

  1. People are using the word pivot like they know what it means. Graeme Codrington gives us a grammar lesson and some other lessons like: Giving away your stuff for free – especially those of you who work in the knowledge economy – is not a pivot. It’s lunacy. Read, the full article on Facebook.
  2. Every sales professional and entrepreneur should read this. I mean it. Honest Selling Secrets From A Dishonest Man – 6 genius sales techniques from evil oilman Daniel Plainview.
  3. You’ll be so proud to be a South African when you watch Lindi Nolte from Rustenburg present A Love Poem To Our Earth at TedX Bear Creek Park.
  4. You know I’ve been hankering for all things Karoo. If you missed Antoinette Pienaar’s Secret to Life, watch it, it’s a treat.
  5. Claude Moller took me back to the Karoo with this exquisite piece called Ompaaie. It’s a beautiful lesson about slowing down.
  6. We can’t get away from what is happening in our country with the coronavirus. The dialogue around it is splitting our nation. We are fighting not only against the ravages of the virus but we are fighting for the very soul of South Africa. This article in The Daily Maverick, An Iron Curtain is Falling on Our Freedom is a piece that should make us pause.
  7. The classic poem, Desiderata by Max Ehrmann is beautifully depicted in this video. It will pierce your heart and give you hope.

My best to you,


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