Thursday, November 17, 2011

An Exercise in Moderation

As usual, I'll start off with a story: In the 2006 film The Devil Wears Prada, the protagonist, Andy Sachs--portrayed by my former top crush, Anne Hathaway--takes a job at a fashion magazine, because that's the best thing she could find relating to journalism, which she has a degree in. To quote her, "It was either this or Auto World." Andy's new-found occupation came with the boss from Danté's Inferno, Miranda Priestly (played by Meryl Streep.) At first, Andy and her employer share mutual enmity, but, as the film progresses, the journalism student becomes so wrapped up in the job that she ends up like Miranda; so much so, that Ms. Priestly tells her twenty-something employee, "I see a lot of myself in you." Even Andy's co-workers began to notice; Emily Blunt's character (yes, the British girl) told Andy something that is, in my opinion, the film's most classic line: "You sold your soul the day you put on those Jimmy Choos." At the flick's end--and this is a spoiler, so be warned--Andy realizes what she has become, and throws her cellular phone in a fountain in the middle of a conversation with Miranda, signifying that Andy had washed her hands of the whole thing.
Why do I bring that up? It's not just to reminisce about Victoria Justice's predecessor. Rather, the reason is this: I only saw The Devil Wears Prada once, but I've always thought it made a very good point about what happens when someone gets too involved in something. Andy got too immersed with her work, and it turned her against her friends, her co-workers, even her significant other. The same has been happening over the past few years with me, only it's not my occupation that's consuming me; it's Facebook.
Let me delve into my history a bit: I have always been the quintessential "mouse potato". We didn't get Internet at our house until I was eleven years old, but I still spent many hours prior to that in front of the computers we had. Although I did do some creative projects and school work on them, most of my time was spent playing games. In 1999, when we first hooked up our computer to the Internet, my mom gave both herself and me separate AOL screen names and passwords, but set mine up with a very severe web block. You may think that was being over-protective, but keep in mind that I have always been developmentally delayed, meaning that I've been behind in some ways for my whole life. Most teens and tweens aren't mature anyway, but I was even less mature than the rest of them. So, looking back, I think it was a smart move. Many parents in this day and age worry about their kids finding pornography online, and my mom was, too, but that wasn't all she was worried about. She also didn't want me to spend hours on end talking to my friends, even people I did know. I lacked the self-discipline to keep online interaction from becoming an addiction, and she knew that. In fact, even though she made the decision about 5.5 years ago to get high-speed Internet without any blocks, social networking (as they call it these days) has become an obsession for me.
There's a number of reasons why that's the case, but I've got one that easily takes the cake: Most of you know that I love entertainment; books, movies, music, and TV are very big interests of mine. It should come as no surprise that I borrow or buy DVDs, CDs, and literature from the library, yard sales, used bookstores, etc., regularly. However, my shelves have become so full, even with using under-the-bed storage, I barely have room for all my books and movies. Several items I've borrowed from my local libraries recently have sat on my desk until they were due; I didn't even open the books, pop in the albums, or begin to watch the movies. Instead, I spend most of my spare time on Zuckerberg's website. Do I want to? No; I'd rather be enjoying a great book or a good movie than sitting around checking my notifications for the thousandth time. As the Apostle Paul said in Romans 7:15, "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." (NIV)
However, I'm at a loss for what to do. I've deactivated my account twice since joining Facebook in the autumn of 2006, and found myself back on there within just a matter of weeks both times. I also don't want to leave it completely alone for a prolonged amount of time; I had a friend who abandoned his Facebook page for about eighteen months, and found out when he got back on there that he'd missed a lot. One of his friends had even invited him to his (that is, my friend's friend's) wedding, and he knew nothing about it until well after the fact. Besides which, I don't consider Facebook a bad thing; I just consider having an addiction to it a bad thing.
You may wonder: Why is "social networking" so addicting for me? Well, I've thought about it, and I came to this conclusion: It lets my voice be heard. When I was younger, my thoughts on things tended to get squelched, because I was too long-winded in expressing them, my peers were being jerks and wouldn't let me talk, I was talking about something no one else cared about, or any number of other reasons. Most people, it seems, are better at expressing themselves through the spoken word than in writing, but I'm exactly the opposite. So, Facebook, as well as this blog, allow me to express my feelings on whatever topic, whether it be Victoria Justice, sports, broken friendships, current events, the last book I've read, or anything else.
One more thought, and then I'll end this: Most of you reading this probably know that I've reacted rather negatively to romance-related posts on Facebook in the past. Some of you may also know that I've had three good friends, including two I practically grew up with, get married in the past few weeks. You may think that the above thoughts about Facebook addiction are because of that, but I can tell you right now that that's not the case. Seriously, I'm past getting upset because of others' relationships. If you want to know why, check my post titled "Do I REALLY Need a Significant Other?" or the two-parter "The REAL Truth About Me and My Celebrity Crushes" (which may have a third installment soon, if I get around to writing it.) Seriously, the problem isn't any of you, no matter what your relationship status is; it's me. You know how honest I am, so I know you believe me...right?

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