Giving Fault Where Blame is Due

I caved. I recently registered for a Facebook account and I’ve only seen positive results. I never wanted Facebook; I had no desire for “fake” friends. I knew that I would become a stalker if I had the means, and I feared that with Facebook my definition of friendship would be skewed.

I got an account when I reached a point at which I could define who my close friends were, when my communication skills (face to face conversations) improved, and when I felt I had established my own clear set of priorities.

Facebook became an awfully convenient tool. I reconnected with acquaintances and had a venue in which to share articles and ideas that I found worthwhile. It is nice to be virtually connected to people who I don’t see on a daily basis, to read their witty statuses, and “like” their profile pictures.

I am constantly clicking on article “shares” and gaining a tremendous amount from ideas newly at my disposal. Don’t get me wrong, I also waste time on Facebook. Staring at the illuminated blue page or looking up people I once knew is one of my new pastimes.

I’m not addicted. And I do not regret my decision to register for this venomous account.

Unfortunately, not everyone can claim to share my experience. I become so frustrated when during a serious conversation with a friend she nods as she types away on her Blackberry. It is so offensive and invalidating, but today it has become the norm.

About a month ago an article was published in The Verge by Paul Miller, titled, I’m Still Here: Back Online After a Year Without the Internet. Ironically, Miller did not describe his year offline to have been successful.

In his article, he emphasizes two ideas that I find most telling.

He confesses that he made wrong choices offline. “Instead of taking boredom and lack of stimulation and turning them into learning and creativity, I turned toward passive consumption and social retreat.” Miller recognized the true source of his weaknesses. “I’ll know that it’s not the internet’s fault. I’ll know who’s responsible, and who can fix it.”

Once offline, Miller became a social outcast. “So much ink has been spilled deriding the false concept of a ‘Facebook friend,’ but I can tell you that a ‘Facebook friend’ is better than nothing.”

It is about time that we stop blaming the Internet for the problems we have. Unproductive, addictive stimuli has always been available. Leaving the Internet isn’t an answer. It is socially isolating, it is an inconvenience, and it would not provide an antidote for the addicted web surfers. Our duty is to learn how to moderate, balance, and control.

I recently read an article in the NY Times, How Not to Be Alone, by Jonathan Safran Foer. In his article, Safran Foer expresses his fear “that the closer the world gets to our fingertips, the further it gets from our hearts. It’s not an either/or — being “anti-technology” is perhaps the only thing more foolish than being unquestioningly “pro-technology” — but a question of balance that our lives hang upon.”

Am I sacrificing my real relationships for fake ones? Is my iPhone distracting me in class? Am I completely consumed by tweets that aren’t coming from treetops? If so, then my priority list needs some polishing. It is time for some introspection and resolutions.

The Internet isn’t at fault.

About the Author
Shira Lichtman is Israeli, contrary to common misconception; She grew up in Beit Shemesh with her parents and seven younger siblings; She works for the secret services and therefore cannot disclose any further information regarding her current occupation and mysterious future plans, which are so secret that even she doesn't know them ;-)