Charlie's Blog: SOC 35


SOC 35

Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.

I am losing my mind. Writing helps me to find the mind that I have lost. Why am I losing my mind? I have delved to empty the Basket of Frustrations. That goal has become its own frustration. I feel like my life is like the Oak Island mystery where I am destroying myself to try and recover a treasure that may not actually exist. The determination is met with frustration which is met with more determination. In the end, you will destroy yourself, or you will decide that nothing is worth this self-destruction. That endgame is the resolution of frustration.

You do not make the world better by destroying yourself. This is my final verdict on the issue of social media. Social media eats time which you do not have. I've read enough articles and quit social media enough times and long enough to tell you that your life will be much improved if you simply delete all of your social media accounts. There is no question about this. So, why am I drawn back to social media? For me personally, it comes down to a desire to promote my three primary causes of Catholicism, conservatism, and capitalism. Since most people are functionally illiterate, writing a blog doesn't have the same impact as a meme on social media.

This is the irony of social media. It takes relatively little time to do a tweet or Facebook posting. Yet, social media will eat more time than writing epic posts on a blog. Social media is an endless scroll. It never ends, so your time is sucked away. Your productivity vanishes. Your life becomes worse instead of better.

My frustration comes from a desire to make a difference. I want to be in the fight somehow. Writing this blog is a way to fight, but people don't read anymore. This is one of the problems in the world today which is widespread stupidity. Social media offers the potential of changing the world, but it is a trap where you just destroy yourself. If you are worse at the end than at the beginning, you shouldn't do it.

I am discovering a principle here that is an epiphany. You do not make the world better by your self-destruction. Perhaps the opposite of this is the truth. Maybe the world is made better by your self-improvement. By saving yourself, you are doing your part to save the world.

I see this issue at the core of what is destroying the Roman Catholic Church. The Church decided that it needed to be more relevant with Vatican II and the Novus Ordo Mass of Pope Paul VI. The result of those things is that the Catholic Church has been destroying itself for 50 years. The Church wanted to be more accessible to the world but ended up becoming more like the world in the process. Consequently, it became insipid. The lesson here is that you don't change the world by becoming like the world.

Of course, I do not embrace the Benedict Option either. For me, the Benedict Option would be to delete my blogs along with my social media accounts and retreat to writing in notebooks in longhand. I find myself on a middle path like the Buddha. For those unfamiliar with the story, the Buddha discovered enlightenment when he chose the middle way between extreme self-indulgence and extreme self-denial. All the Buddha did was discover what Aristotle and Aquinas already knew. Virtue lies in the mean between deficiency and excess.

The mean may be the answer to my frustrations. I like to go to extremes. As William Blake put it, "The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom...You never know what is enough until you know what is more than enough." Social media by its inherent nature is excessive. I have emptied my email inbox before. I have run out of things to read on Feedly. But the feeds on social media never end.

Balance is hard. It requires prudence and wisdom. For instance, I like being vegan because I don't have to think about it. I just eliminate animal products. I reject the concept of a "balanced diet." This is people's sneaky way to have their Big Macs. They figure it will be balanced by a salad during some other meal. But within veganism, you get people who are raw food fruitarians which is extreme not because it is unhealthy but impractical and expensive. Conversely, you get junk food vegans who eat nothing but fake meats and Oreo cookies. I have fake meat once in awhile. Oreo cookies make my stomach hurt, so I don't eat those. And I eat lots of fruit and veggies. What is the balance here?

When it comes to technology, I think I have a better handle when it comes to finding balance. People accuse me of being a Luddite, but this is not precise. Luddites don't write blogs on the internet or wear digital watches. I carry a cellphone which I have done for almost 20 years now. But that phone is a flip phone which is where the Luddite tag gets pinned on me. This is because I do not embrace technophilia.

Technophilia sounds like a sexual perversion. Maybe it is. I just know that I am not a technophile. The technophile believes that all tech is inherently good, but we know better. For me, this becomes obvious as I watch people risk death as they tap on their smartphones behind the wheels of their automobiles. I am crazy in the sense that I think that technology should make your life better not worse. The smartphone/social media thing is making life worse for me and everyone else. Those things steal your time, make you envious and angry, and can even kill you with distracted driving.

I feel ridiculous about this issue because I first wrote about it back in 2015 with this post. That is three years of going back and forth about social media. Why do I keep doing this? It is because of a couple of basic facts. The first and most obvious is that everyone else is doing it. There isn't a website or blog that I come across that doesn't have a link to a Facebook, Twitter, and or an Instagram account. I know about a guy who works in government, so he deleted his Facebook account long ago to avoid trouble with his job. But he loves his Instagram account. The second fact is a corollary to the first fact. If everyone is doing it, the way to reach those people is to do it, too. I even heard a guy say on a YouTube video that he thinks social media is evil, but he uses it as a necessity to promote his work.

Social media is addicting, and the geniuses at Facebook and Twitter know this. Their goal is to hook you in and keep you in. Naturally, people make the argument from balance that you need to take social media in moderation. But this is so much crap. The balance comes when you delete those accounts and go back to using the internet the way it was before Facebook.

For me, the pain of it all comes down to this. I can suffer from watching all my time and productivity vanish. Or, I can suffer from watching all my time and productivity being ignored. I am at the point where the lesser evil is to be productive and ignored. Hype without substance is just false advertising.