Monday, February 24, 2014

Deactivation: Day One

Social media. A form of communication, of exhibition and public performance, of peering into private lives and sharing too much--a virtual sense of connection. Still, sometimes it leaves me feeling depleted--my brain cells stifled, my emotions vulnerable, my soul exhausted. For all of its promise of connectivity, I can't help but find myself seemingly detached, separate, and disconnected from the very people I'm supposed to be connected to through the streaming posts, photos, and status updates.

For someone whose primary love languages are quality time and touch, virtual reality just doesn't offer the genuine expression of time spent in conversation hearing every nuance in someone's voice, seeing the flicker of light in their eyes as they talk or identify with something you are saying. It doesn't even compare to sitting in a comfortable (or uncomfortable) silence with someone, listening to the rise and fall of his breath, reading her body language. Online it's simply silence. Nothingness. Void. There is no rush of lips meeting and an exchange of breath between lovers or the comforting weight of a friend's arms wrapped around your body. Only the cold symbols we recognize as words.

Also, there is the inevitable ability to see that your unrequited love is spending every evening with a different girl, to know enough that your mind races in circles weaving together possible scenarios of him with someone else while your heart keeps up in rapid time until it feels like it will crumble, to not know enough that you can turn it off. And then the constant bombardment of updates that you feel you must either "like" or respond to in some way or risk the possibility of hurting someone's feelings. Or the inescapable chagrin of posting an unflattering image or no one "liking" the post that reveals the most about you.

So, I deactivated my Facebook account. I pressed pause on Instagram and Twitter last night before going to bed. I admit, I've been tempted to log back in today. I've even picked up my phone absentmindedly to click on my app before realizing that I'm not participating in that virtual world any longer. I've felt somewhat liberated and rebellious. I'm not part of that "crowd". I'm not participating in the virtual cyclone of social media. I've also felt kind of sad at not being a part of it. I have felt disconnected. Like a loss or a small death, there is a general sense of sadness at wanting to talk to someone or visit a place and not having the option. Unlike a real loss or death, I do have the option of going back at any time. I've wondered what is going on with specific people. But if I really wonder that much, I can and will simply pick up my phone and call them. I've wondered if anyone misses me. In fact, when I deactivated my account, I received a list of "friends" along with a message asking "Are you sure you want to deactivate your account? [These people] will miss you." Oddly enough, the aforementioned guy was the first person on that list and, yes, I pondered whether he really would miss me or not.

I know I miss him. But I missed him even when I was "connected". The truth is, if someone is really connected to you, that tie will remain whether you're contacts via social media or not. Real reality is ,after all, real. Virtual reality is virtual. In its simplest form, it's an authentic vs. imitation story.  And in the end, the human soul craves real, whether we are pat of a social media circle or not.

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