Rob's Soapbox Archives
May 11th, 2009
LOOK AT ME!
Rob is writing his Soapbox column right now.
Later, Rob will be enjoying a bottle of fine wine and playing with his dogs out back while wife Janell complains about the heat. Boooo…she’s such a penguin.
Look at me! See what I am doing? Care what I am doing! Do it! I NEED you to care about every single thing that I do all the time! Dear Twitter, I am typing a tweet right now.
Oh, yay…I see that another 4500 people I have never met in my life want to be my friend on My Face (or whatever the hell it’s called). Gosh, I must really matter in this world. It’s so nice to be defined as important by a bunch of losers that I don’t know. Good for me.
Twenty years ago I was on a road trip with someone who had one of those “Book of Questions.” I still remember my answer to this query: “if you could give everyone in America one thing for free what would it be?”
“Self-esteem/self respect,” I said. This nation is devoid of it. We look to others for our own personal self-worth, needing to be accepted and deemed to be “allowed” into certain groups, societies, and stratospheres. We worship celebrities and famous people to the point that we must dress like them, own the exact same dogs and bid on E-bay for pieces of toast half eaten by them. Very few of us anymore are comfortable in our own skin, proud and confident of who we are and willing to allow only the judgments of the people and entities that are important to us actually matter to us.
I refuse to blame technology for this. The LOOK AT ME culture began long before Twitter and Face Book allowed us to take it to a whole new level. Before the internet, people used their cell phones to say “look at me,” by whipping them out in public and using them in a voice far louder than was necessary so that we would all look at them and validate them.
Before cell phones, guys revved their motorcycle and sports car engines at stoplights so men and women alike would look at them and, presumably, judge them as being fast, cool and hip.
Making a spectacle of one’s self is nothing new in America; it has just reached pervasive and perverse levels. In the NFL, obnoxious celebrations used to be rare, now it’s stunning when a player simply hands the ball to the ref, content in the knowledge he simply just did his job, not needing to flap his arms like a retarded bird of some sort.
My guess is that we’re in the eye of the perfect storm. While technology has made it easier for us to scream for the attention we so desperately need, it has also arrived at a time when we so desperately need attention. It is so overwhelmingly sad to me how badly people need to be loved and validated…and also so god damned pathetic.
I suppose I should pause for a moment before getting preachy; or at least more preachy. Almost everyone I know, including my wife, has a social networking page of some kind. Additionally, I understand that these stupid sites and pages hold some legitimate value in the business world and serve a totally innocent way for people to reconnect, find friends they’ve lost touch with and organize events ranging from reunions to tea parties.
Here’s what I don’t get; once you’ve connected, reconnected or been introduced via MyFace, why must your silly communication with one another be so god damned public? Why do you have this void that causes you to need to be publicly seen, followed, heard and watched? Again, let me be clear; if you are organizing a darts league on your MyFace page and post messages for the whole league to see, that’s fine. If you want to congratulate Bill, a member of your league, on his promotion at work, why do you feel the need to do that in the same space, for all of the world to see? Beyond that, what’s with these stupid updates about every movement of everyone’s day? They range from which TV shows people are watching at every second of the day to petty annoyances. To which I again ask, “who cares?”
Sorry, I became sidetracked by my own blind rage. I digressed. Allow me to continue.
I understand that many of you will not follow me on this opinion. Some of you will accuse me of rampant psychobabble, while others will accuse me of being “out of touch,” and/or old. So be it. I submit to you that this is neither.
I do not eschew technology or hip ways to communicate. Twitter, MyFace and all of the related forms of communication are an advancement of already existing forms of private ways to talk to one another, taken to a very public scale. There is simply no justification for needing everyone in your circle of friends and life to know everything you are doing and saying all the time. It’s a social defect, damn it. Use email and text messages and have some decorum. What happened to some, just a little, modesty, demureness, humility? Why do we need to be recognized and known for every single little thing?
I often ask questions I already know the answers to, so let me save you the time of writing me a response (preferably via email, since I’ll never see it on your MyFace page).
People need to be seen and heard because they have almost no belief in themselves. No one loves themselves anymore, they need to be loved by others…and as many others as possible. Accomplishing things that are expected (like getting a job) are not accomplishments at all; it’s simply doing what you’re supposed to do. Sadly, though, we live in an age where our expectations of ourselves are so low, we need and demand to be praised by everyone we know for the silliest, smallest things. Having a job is part of being a functioning adult. You should not be congratulated for it, nor should you want to be. Why not just brag about breathing in and out through your nostrils?
Even real, actual accomplishments are meant to be heralded and revered amongst select groups of people. Parties celebrating job promotions and new homes should be intimate and held close; once you give such special things away to everyone, they become un-special.
And therein lies the real problem. When you allow and demand that other people applaud you, revere you, legitimize you and validate you, you also allow them to become your judge, jury and executioner on all issues. Eventually, when you allow other people to control and define your emotions, they will use that power against you. Looking outside of yourself for validation will lead to ultimate disappointment.
It’s no different than those who gleefully joined the call 4 decades ago to limit and ultimately ban smoking, who are now stunned that behavior controlists want to limit and/or ban salt, sugar, cell phones and other things held dear. Once you let people control behavior, they will eventually control your behavior. As it relates to MyFace, once you let people become the validaters of your positive emotions, they will ultimately, eventually become the supreme validaters of all of your emotions.
I wonder when and what will be enough? Will it reach the point where we will each shout out loud at the grocery store, “Rob found the mayonnaise! It’s in Aisle 3!” And in unison, everyone else will shout back, “smiley face!” I admit it…I don’t get it; and I don’t want to. LOL. (whatever the hell that means). :-(