Why Deleting Your Facebook Account Will Not Make You Any Happier
“Why have you been so erratic these past few months,” I ask one of my closest male friends.
It’s been difficult to watch him sulk in his own misery when there really wasn’t anything particularly cruel about his life situation, or so I thought. He stares off into the distance with a pained look as if someone had just died.
“The external pressure to be someone I’m not and to possess things I can’t afford are haunting me.” He wants to say more, but can’t find the right words. His thoughts are frozen by the chilling fear of sounding too emotional, too sensitive.
He really doesn’t need to elaborate. I too am a 20-something year old who has butted heads with these types of thoughts while trying to find a meaningful place in this confusing maze of societal norms and standards. Still, I am too intrigued by the deep emotions that have stuck a pole into his core and raised their flag. They were there to stay, if he didn’t get them out.
“Buy a house, drive a car, find a wife, have some kids, make new friends, keep old friends, travel the world, buy new gadgets, wear brand clothes, live freely –.” My mind is spinning as he lists all of the external pressures that he feels influenced and evidently sickened by.
“And then, when you do manage to accomplish any of those things with mild success, people get jealous and they say hateful things out of spite. But never in your face; only from behind the protective walls of Facebook.”
I have thought about deleting my Facebook account many times, but have only made it as far as to limit my usage. I do, nonetheless, think twice about what I post now. I am acutely aware of the dangers of living for social approval.
“Life is hard as it is!,” he almost shouts, “And you’re lucky because you work in the technology industry.” There it is, again, the faint veil of jealousy. It’s wrapped tightly around his subconscious. “Everything is so confusing for the average man who is trying to live a satisfying life before eventually biting the grass.”
He is right. It is confusing. Sometimes I need to stretch my head out the window a little farther to see this. Other times, I don’t need to because certain challenges are ubiquitous in their nature and affect all of us, regardless of our occupation, socio-economic standing, or culture background.
“Fuck norms!” It feels good to just say that. I have unofficially added it to my “mission statement,” if you want to call it that. Something I believe in. Something I stand for, and something I want others to be inspired by, if it speaks to them.
He looks at me with no special sign of surprise. He is clearly waiting for a little more than that.
“Everything we are told we want and should have in life are fabricated ideals,” I continue. “We are trained to be consumers from early on. I think that modern norms are merely there to make us behave like one. What most of us realize a little too late in life is that following those norms actually doesn’t lead to happiness or fulfillment. It’s like we are running on treadmill with no button to turn it off. When you fulfill the norm on one level, let’s say by buying a house, all of the sudden the next carrot is dangled in front of you. Of course you need nice furnitures and decorations to make you feel comfortable, or should I say, to impress your guests who will no doubt come over to spectate and compare.”
As I wax-poetic about my personal understanding of the world around me, I can’t help but feel guilty. I don’t want him to think that I have it all figured out. Fuck norms. Just say it like it is. He will take from it what he finds useful for himself and make up his own opinion.
Just speak from the heart and maybe you will reach his.
“I could tell you to delete your Facebook account, but it’s a part of our modern world and won’t go away. And even if it does, it will be replaced by something similar. More importantly, we need to re-learn and popularize some very basic human traits: compassion, collaboration, and tolerance.
We must believe that possessions don’t define us. Happiness is defined by the individual, not by societal norms.”
A relevant quote by Oscar Wilde comes to mind and I share it with my friend:
“Nowadays people know the price of everything, and the value of nothing.”
He grabs the edge of the bench and pushes himself up.
“So let’s do this!,” he says.