I’ve been thinking a lot about the allure of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. What attracts people to post tidbits about their lives, professions, thoughts, actions or beliefs? What is the compelling reason behind all this excess sharing of information that crosses generations and keeps us coming back for more?
Is it that humans have a compelling need to conform? Everyone’s on Facebook, so I need to be on it too? Perhaps those sites are fulfilling our social need to be recognized, liked or accepted? Maybe, we are all just voyeurs and like to look through a small window into other people’s lives?
I can’t speak for anyone else, but my addiction to Facebook, in particular, is terminal. I’ve abandoned the extra thirty minutes of sitcom every night and I even Facebook through lunch upon occasion. I open Facebook with the first sip of my morning coffee. But why?
Recently, on a flight to Miami, I had a neurosurgeon tell me that he tunes into Jerry Springer every day. When i asked him why; he said because watching the program was mindless and made his problems seem trivial and small, but mostly because he wanted to. I thought that was a great answer for a man that had to concentrate almost daily on finite details while performing brain surgery. Jerry Springer is like his glass of wine during his hard day’s work. It’s his method of escapism.
The same is true for me and Facebook. I own and run a business. I have two active kids. I have a home to manage. Pets. A spouse. Employees. A mortgage. A daughter going off to college soon. You get the picture. Maybe I’m escaping from all of it for brief interludes. Your news feed and my two or three posts per day, complete me. Maybe it’s my means of escape, but for me that’s not exactly it, because I love my life and I don’t need to hide from it. I generally face it head-on.
So then what is it, if not a means of escape? Simply, Facebook and Twitter both feed my need to write. I’m a writer. A writer gets their fix any old way they can, and when they can’t be consumed in some big writing project, they dive, head first into Facebook. Social Media to the writer is like a heroin addiction to a junkie. We can’t help ourselves. We love to chronicle the stories of our lives.
I believe there is a writer in all us. Social media allows us to feed that basic human need to write. I challenge anyone with a Facebook addiction to tell me it ain’t so.
Life’s good material. So write about it.