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Facebook Voyeur...

Ok, so the word voyeur is tied to sexual gratification and I do not mean that in this piece. I am hijacking the word because it fits my intent except for the sexual connotation. So I want to be up front and own that I do not gain sexual gratification from mindless scrolling Facebook...well, most of the time. :)


Ok, now that we have that little issue out of the way, we shall dive in...


I will be honest and say that I spend wayyy too much time on it. I don’t even know why. Except for my writing, I really don’t even post all that much. I am really more of a Facebook Voyeur.


There is something addicting about all the pages I have liked and the friends old and new, near and far being able to be scrolled through in a lazy fashion with anonymity. I would totally change all of my Facebook habits immediately if anyone could see exactly what I am doing, like Snapchat. (This likely proves that I don’t understand how Snapchat works...).


I see a lot of Facebook happy. I mean people posting things about their lives in what seems to be an effort to get the rest of us to believe they are happy, their lives are going according to plan. But I also see the posts where people reach out past the curtain of acceptability, past the socially acceptable walls we build to shield the lives that we are actually leading, and post something raw, honest and brave. This is what I scroll endlessly for, something that makes me sit up and take notice that another human just took off their armor and shared an authentic piece of themselves with, well, everyone on fucking Facebook.


That is why I scroll for way too much of my life. I am searching for connection in a world that feels so distant and removed. So far away from me. So far away from my life. I spend a lot of time alone. And that is not a complaint. I like it, I seem to need it. But if I am truly honest, what I want more than anything is meaningful heart connection with other beings. I have them daily with my pets. I mean I kiss the goats every morning...and if you don’t get that, then you are missing out on one of life’s greatest pleasures. Scratching the sides of a goat who looks up at you adoringly and planting a kiss on the bridge of their noses, is one of the best things I do all day.


I have them with other people too. My daughter and son. Although, because of their ages and my son’s distance, those happen way less often than I would like. My parents are just a mile away but we do not spend as much time together as we used to...the pandemic killed the contact and I guess we have been relaxed about getting it going again.


I have it with friends too. I mean I have a whole list of people who I can reach out to and connect. Although, sometimes it is harder for me to do. Sometimes I am not even sure what it is that I want. I have legitimately reached out to connect and then gotten in the other person’s presence, and been like “fuck, this isn’t what I wanted or needed at all!” Not the person’s fault...just me reaching out for something and not really being able to tell you what it is that I am seeking.


And that is why I think Facebook is so satisfying. I connect with you but only in my mind. You are not really involved. I can only connect with what you put out there and then whatever story I tell myself about your post. It is a fake connection, in that, I am not really connected to you at all. And that seems like a really old behavior for me.


But, having said all of that, I will tell you that Facebook has brought about real, in the flesh, connections. One happened just last night. (Ok, it was actually on Instagram but same diff). A friend from DC who I haven’t seen in twenty something years, sent me a voice message on Instagram. He and I were never best friends or anything but we did run in the same social circle once upon a time. And have stayed “connected” through Facebook and Instagram. But because there was a methodology for connection, he was able, when he felt so moved, to reach out to me and tell me something personal. Tell me that my writing touched his life, that he was struggling with giving people the authentic him, and not just putting out there what he thinks others want to see...He took the time to tell me he thought I was brave to put it all out there every day.


I listened to his message a couple of times. Let it soak in. Let it permeate the “thank you so much for your ____” response that seems to be so always at the ready. And then I responded to tell him that I so appreciated him taking the time out of his life to encourage me. To support me. To tell me what he thought. And I told him that my experience is that the more you, you put out there, without regard for approval and likes and praise or even blame, the more authentic you become.


And maybe, that is why social media has become what it is. We are trying (and failing) to put our authentic selves out there, perhaps we are desperate to be seen and heard and loved and accepted. Perhaps, all of us, really need connection. Really need another human to “get” us and we are all afraid of the same thing...being who we are and having that not be good enough, and experiencing rejection.

I will tell you that when I started writing and putting myself out there every day, my finger hovered over the publish button every single time. A not so mild panic washed over me and often sent me scampering back over my writing with an extremely critical eye in an effort to remove anything offensive, hurtful, or really too intimate. Eventually I got over that, and now, I just hit the fucking publish button, consequences be damned. It isn’t that I don’t care anymore, it is just that it has become more important for me to put it out there than it is for you to approve of it, like it or even really get it. I mean, I write because I want you to relate, to connect with me, but really I write to purge the insanity, the panic and the dread that threatens to eat me whole if I do not bleed off part of myself daily through the written word.


So back to rejection. I fear this too. That I will be who I really am and it will not be good enough for you. That I will give of myself in a relationship and you will leave, wholly missing the point of our connection. But I have lived so much of this life in fear of that. That I have become someone else entirely. Someone who was so dreadfully disconnected from herself that there was no connection with anyone. Because I was not me, I was just a constantly changing version of me to suit you. And I never really felt much peace or love or even friendship until I stopped doing that and just began to be whoever the fuck I am. A person that I am shocked and amazed by almost daily and still feel lost and confused and lonely far more than is probably healthy.


So there it is, I voyeur Facebook in search of connection. In search of meaning in a world that kind of tethers me to my home, alone and haunts me to reach out and be vulnerable enough to connect with someone else. It is hard in this life today. So much of my time and effort given to earning a living and raising kids. It often leaves me feeling like there isn’t enough time for me to ever really meet and touch another person in a meaningful way. Most especially in a romantic way. Facebook is a vehicle and a shield...and I have become adept at using both to move me through my life, glancing off others in an effort to connect, on a platform that while designed to bring us closer, often leaves us feeling more alone...

Which leaves me wondering if we could use it differently? Could we use these social platforms to establish real connections with others. Well, I think we can. My friend from DC did last night. He reached out across the country and took the time to light up my life, to encourage me, to lift me up making us both feel better for the effort expended and received. I am going to try to follow his example and make my Facebook surfing more meaningful. This might result in you getting weird private messages or random comments on your posts. Sorry in advance, but maybe not really. I have grown into a person today that isn’t ashamed of needing others, or wanting to be connected, authentic and real in the living of my life. And perhaps someday, all this Facebook voyuering and internet browsing will lead me to more heartfelt and loving connections with actual real humans who seek, just like me to be loved, appreciate and adored for whomever they are in this moment.


This is my ardent hope for us all, that we can use the technology we have to heighten our actual connections instead of allow it to break us down into images on a screen devoid of all meaning. It really is up to us, otherwise we are just the fodder in technology's endless empire. Lost in space and time, tethered to nothing but the idea and hope for connection in a world that seems to have forgotten what that truly means.




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