FACEBOOK VS FACE BOOK

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By Louise Collins

 

 

Facebook has been leading me astray for too long. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of OZ, I’ve travelled long roads leading nowhere with strange friends in various disguise who, for all I know, could very well be heartless, brainless or gutless. When fatigued and dead eyed after hours of idle wandering on FB the thought occurs to me that I have the power to log out, I’m often left thinking: why didn’t I just read a book?

 

The thing is, I don’t want to know whether FB friend #156 won the netball grand final, I don’t want mere distraction, I want more. I want to see beyond the veneer. I want Tolstoy, I want Chekhov, I want Fitzgerald; I want the whole story. So why do I continue to log in when I know I’ll get sucked in to the FB vortex of banality quicker than Dorothy can say, “There’s no place like home”?

 

We’re lured by and terrified of the interactive nature of FB, conflicted by our desire to open our coats and flash on the one hand and the huge consequences of revealing too much on the other. Our wisely cautious approach to FB becomes a barrier to any real connection and fertilizer for a one dimensional construct of who we are and what our lives look like.

 

FB can only ever offer a fragmented version of a life, a book can reveal whole worlds where questions are answered and fates are revealed.”

 

Facebook allows us to create our own ideal identity. We all have our low-brow pop culture indulgences, but I’m yet to see a post with a link to Deal or No Deal or New Weekly magazine. Instead, we drop links to obscure philosophers and bands from Reykjavik. It’s this shiny version of our lives that hooks us in faster than you can say Masterchef, and like watching Masterchef, leaves us feeling undernourished and a little bit useless.

 

When it comes to Facebook vs. Face Book, it’s worth asking yourself: What’s in it for me? Making the commitment to read a book instead of opting for the instant gratification of FB, we gain a sense of satisfaction from doing something that not only utilizes our brain but delivers an unabridged story. Whereas FB can only ever offer a fragmented version of a life, a book can reveal whole worlds where questions are answered and fates are revealed.

 

Literature allows us to connect with people from different cultures, places and times without the veneer. A novel will never trick you in to believing that everyone else is cooler than you, more popular than you, or having a better time than you. Within the pages of a book we can gain insight in to our shared humanity and find friends who speak to us, comfort us and remind us that we are more than what we ‘Like’ or ‘Don’t Like’.

 

I’m not championing the Luddites life or buying in to hysterical rhetoric over how social media is ruining our ‘real’ lives. It’s about how we consciously choose to spend our time and what we hope to get from it. Facebook at its best is an address book; a hurried ‘Hi’ to a neglected friend; a scripted reality TV show. Facebook at its worst is precious hours playing Farmville or stalk-booking your ex.

 

Don’t get caught up. Next time you find yourself mindlessly trawling FB consider logging off and grabbing a book. Like Dorothy, you’ll find the home you searched for was there all along.

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