Facebook is Making Me Depressed

Facebook is Making Me Depressed

By Elizabeth Harper

Facebook is making me so depressed
I don't know if I can write this poem.

It's constant distraction and obligation,
tidbits of information,
things to worry about,
things to get mad about,
proddings for decisions,
opinions, commentary,
tempered with
Despite one's best efforts,
separate selves become conflated.

The sharing, the caring, the belaboring,
the neighboring Farmville, Yoville, Cafe World.

Openness, self-promotion, or oversharing?
Opinions and comments, likes and dislikes,
status updates, happy birthday wishes.
What are your social, emotional obligations?  
What is savvy?  
Put it out there for the ones you want to see it,
but do you want them all to see it?  
Should you opt for self-protection or self-aggrandizement?
Is his wall post meant for you to see, or someone else?  
Is the girl in the photo his lover or just a friend?  
Hope your in-laws don't notice you're on there.
What are you obligated to comment on?  
When is the back and forth messaging done?
Instant chat with a total stranger. What are his motives?  
Are we all just lonely, longing to be seen,
in a world where it is increasingly clear that it's not safe
to be seen?  

People losing their jobs because of pictures of them
drinking on their Facebook pages?  
Or kept out of the country because of articles
published in philosophy journals?  
What is with these two totally disparate views
on the social acceptability of drinking?  
Whatever happened to the three martini lunch?
Bring it back, please.  
What is with this workplace myth of the non-drinking life,
when everybody's going out to happy hour after work?  
Holy hypocrisy, Batman!
And since when does the government pay attention to philosophy journals?
Is there no safe haven for ideas and expression?  
With the sheer abundance of opinion and information
you'd think you'd be free to express anything you wanted,
because why would anyone care?  
Why would anyone pay attention when
there is so much competing for one's attention?

So I like to see what my friends post.  
And when I'm looking at articles or YouTube videos
I feel compelled to share with someone.  
Before Facebook, I would send an email with the link to my husband.  
Now I post it on Facebook for everyone to see.  
Throw it up there and see if it sticks. See who reacts.  
Wanna know if someone else "likes" it too.  
Suddenly I'm remembering parking as a teenager,
talking and talking, listening for the "me toos"
that indicate a connection, a sympathy, that inevitably leads to making out.
Maybe Facebook is the ultimate orgy I've always wanted
except that it's virtual, not physical.  
How can anyone get in trouble for something they post on Facebook?
How is all this even real?  

On Law and Order: Los Angeles
the cops find the stolen merchandise
by giving it its own Facebook fan page.

I long to overshare, to post every pretty bon mot that pops into my head.
After all, it's about self-promotion. I am my own brand.  
But with branding comes responsibility. Must not misrepresent.  
Must not mistake one's innermost thoughts for selling points.

The news—it's hard to stay oblivious to it
when your Facebook friends think it's important.  
So you find out about stupid remarks made on Fox News
and the Chicago activist couple who had their papers seized by the FBI
and more instances of everyday stupidity and brutality
than you care to know exist.  
Why would anyone bother being anti-gay or racist
or ruining the idea of a tea party?  
Well, I know why, but I wish I didn't.



The post about how being a hipster isn't cool.  
How could this be?  
I love hipsters. But I have to be cool.  
Holy cognitive dissonance, Batman!

People from high school find me
through other friends. Or searches.
That's flattering, I guess,
that someone remembers you
from 25 years ago.  
The little red-haired boy
I was in love with when I was 10,
over 30 years ago, is on Facebook.  
I look at his profile many times
before thinking it's okay to friend him
after seeing one of my other friends
comment on one of his status updates.  
His interests are photography and gastronomy.
His girlfriend is a poet. They live in New York.
I had prophetic good taste at age 10.

Pictures and videos of old lovers' children.
A fascination with how people grow old and mature
and yet stay the same.  

Finding myself tagged in pictures
people posted from the junior high school yearbook.
Wish those weren't there.  
Pictures of myself when I was seventeen.  
Reminders of how different I look now
and how much I'm still the same person
in some ways, and in some ways, not.

Loving when people post vintage music videos of my favorite songs.
Searching on YouTube for Shaun Cassidy videos.  
Is it cool to like him now that's it's nostalgic and campy kitsch?

I want to connect and share with lots of people.  
But with sharing comes the risk of rejection or neglect.  
Misfirings and severed connections
lead to feelings of disconnection.  
I'd like to fall in love several times a day
seduced and soothed by the smooth groove
of multiple status updates changing
and fluttering like the wings of butterflies
inadvertently changing the world
chaotic and random and free.
Holy virtual lovefest, Batman!



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