Addicted To Likes

I know some people who have been through rehab. One of them, a facebook friend has been writing about the process a lot lately, as she went through it, and continues to update on the progression into a newer, cleaner, sober lifestyle.

Another friend also recently made a comment about addiction, her comment related to quitting smoking.

A talk radio host I regularly listen to on my commute describes her show as “your healthy talk radio addiction”.

A coworker once asked me if I had any vices, while popping some chewing tobacco in his cheek. I told him, “I’ve got all of ‘em”. I don’t feel like going into every little detail, but I thought I would focus on just one, because it seems to me that the same language that my friend going through recovery uses also applies: facebook addiction.

I’m going focus on one specific thing that I’m going to use the term ‘addiction’, without looking up the definition right now, and that is facebook likes and comments and such. I don’t recall all of the biochemistry of addiction as it applies to substance addictions, but I think most likely the mechanism is the same; something rewards a pleasure center in the brain, and you start to want more of that reward. Whether or not an addiction can be healthy, as the radio show host puts it, or not, is debatable, I suppose. I think it’s possible.

I recently read a chapter in a book about celebrity, pop culture, and narcissism. I got to thinking how much of social media seems to be amplifying the phenomena. We post things, we get likes and comments, we feel rewarded, we post more things, and so on. If we suddenly stop getting likes and comments, it starts to produce anxiety. So maybe, as in the case of our pop celebs, we start to post more edgy stuff in the hope of being noticed to reward those pleasure centers again. That would be a somewhat negative view of the process, but I think it operates similarly to addiction.

Another example would be having a friend who makes you laugh, and over time, you find yourself giggling in front of a computer screen, while people around you wonder just what is so funny. For myself, I’ve found myself in this situation with a friend. It came about at a point where I felt like I was in a very negative environment with a lot of very negative comments coming at me every day, and whether it was an escape from my reality, or just a case of ‘laughter is the best medicine’, all’s I know, is man, I was sure grateful to find someone to help cheer me up out of a serious funk.

Now, does this also fall under the same ‘addiction’ category? I think it could. I don’t know the exact reasons, although I have some ideas, my friend sort of moved on with a busy life, and the likes, comments, and laughs started to sort of taper off. I sort of noticed it was happening, and it started producing a sense of anxiety. Now, to me, there’s no question that this is the same mechanism at play as in any other addiction, but there’s also no question in my mind that all of those mornings and days full of snickering and giggling and laughing was feeding me some much needed positive reinforcement. But you know, that’s how things go sometimes. People have reasons for what they do, whether or not you are aware of what they are. You just kind of accept okay, this filled an important role in my life, but now I have to find something else to try to fill that space. (This is where the religiously inclined will start talking about finding God, most likely.)

I can’t go into the details of what I’m thinking about all of this, but I just thought I’d throw this one example out there. I’ve certainly felt a whole range of emotions as it applies to having been on facebook, mostly without a purpose other than human contact. I think probably most people have busier lives, and use facebook a little more purposefully than I have been. So they probably don’t go through the experience in the same way. I just thought I’d share one little aspect of it from my perspective.

The Politics Of Earning A Living

I need to change a lot of things in my life, right now. I need to start growing a network, instead of just keeping up with a close circle of friends that I can speak my mind with without having to worry about whether what I’m saying is right or wrong. I’ve been using the internet as a place to air my deep thoughts and feelings about things, and that’s just not the right way to go about things.

I’ve thought about ditching the username ‘motownmutt’ almost as soon as I started using it online. It was a CB handle I made up when I was 18. I resurrected it when I got my first personal email address probably around 1996. I actually switched to it as a username on web forums from another name that I think most people, including myself liked better. I felt kind of phony, since I hadn’t lived in Detroit in quite some time, by that point, but, well, I stuck with it. Here it is some 14 years later, and it’s not just an anonymous username on the internet. Thanks to social media, I’ve started meeting people in real life who know me by that name.

Now, I’ve also used this username for social commentary on all sorts of hot button topics, and I usually have some pretty controversial things to say about most of them. And that’s starting to become the issue, here. Let’s just suppose a gay couple wanted me to play guitar at their wedding. I would probably do it, even though I don’t agree with the premise of gay marriage. Well, I might. I mean, to me, it’s a case by case thing. The thing is, the fact that I’ve taken so many controversial positions on so many wide ranges of topics, means I’ll probably not work very much under the moniker ‘motownmutt’, or at least, I’m sure to be shooting myself in the foot, pretty regularly by continuing to share my personal thoughts online.

So, on the one hand, it’s kind of evidence that the silencing of political dissent does eventually work, on the other, I need to make some improvements in my standard of living.

The Culture That Succeeds

is the one that replicates itself. That’s pretty much where I stand on homosexuality and polygamy. I don’t hate people for takin’ themselves out of the gene pool, that’s their decision. Culturally, though, it’s going to eventually have a detrimental effect. People who *do* have a problem with that are eventually going to outnumber the people who don’t.

An Uncoupling Of Minds, Of Sorts

For whatever reasons, I’ve never had a real adult relationship. The closest thing to it I’ve ever probably experienced was in college, when I spent a lot of time with a girl who was first a classmate, and then a study partner. We spent a lot of late nights together studying early into the mornings. We eventually moved into a duplex, her in one half of the house and I in the other half. It drove me a little bit crazy, because I wanted to somehow try to make it into a relationship, but not only didn’t know how, and never was really sure whether or not she had any interest. I don’t think she probably was right for me, but, well, there we were together every day and night, studying, mostly.

She was an incredibly driven straight A student, and I was in over my head at a pretty difficult technical college with a pretty low rate of graduating students. Pretty much all of my friends washed out. I would sometimes see them at the town center on their way to catch a bus out of town, or with all of their belongings packed in the back of their car, on their way back to where they came from. I remember one guy telling me “do it, man, just graduate. Do it for all of us that didn’t make it.” I did it, eventually, sometimes going directly against my advisers advice and loading up way heavier of a schedule than she thought I could handle, (that semester was my highest GPA ever at that school), and drawing the same kind of negative ire from the department head that I used to get from gym teachers when I was a long hair pothead in juniour high and highs school. But I made it. And there is no way I would’ve made it without that girl’s help.

For her part, I think I was mostly just company to help her with the boredom of studying, and I was driven, too, I guess. Not as much as her, but I am stubborn, and I was going to get through it. It took an incredible effort to cross that finish line. It cost me a lot of lost sleep, watching the sunrise on the mountain in the morning after a long night of studying.

The reason I bring this story up, is I was recently reminded of how it felt, mentally, when that girl and I stopped studying together. It felt like I had just had a lobotomy. You know, I’ve had the teen crush and a lifetime of living with unrequited love, or whatever, this was so many times that. We had been connected at some level, that when she wasn’t part of that experience any more, I just felt like half of my brain had been removed. I remember laying out a bunch of papers on a table to study for a test one night, and just not being able to figure out how to study for the next morning’s test. It was the most profoundly unnerving feeling I think I’ve ever had. I don’t remember how long it lasted, or if I’m even today living with its affects.

At the time, I suppose I decided I had what experts probably call a co-dependent personality. I don’t know if that’s accurate or not, but it sure seems like it might be. One of my best friends at a later period of my life was a twin who lost her twin brother. I got to thinking about that bond that twins have, where they seem sort of plugged into each other’s minds in a way that other siblings aren’t.

Anyway, I’m just sharing this, because I recently had that feeling, to some degree, recently, of someone close sort of unplugging from my mind, I guess is the best I can describe it, and it really is a sort of strange, and unpleasant feeling. Not the same total disconnect, but a definite change in pattern that, I don’t know if jolted is the right word, but it definitely left me feeling sort of a little lost at sea.

Outline For A Theory Of Everythingisms

I’ve read a lot, but written very little. So, just to get some things off of my mind, I thought I’d scribble down a hasty outline.

Everything seems like it can be described as isms, so that’s where I want to start. I was never a good student of history, so this may seem amatuerish; an amateurism, if you will.

Looking across the cultural landscape, from where I stand, there are two main driving isms dominating our cultural norms: islamism and feminism. These two things seem to be at great odds with one another, but for some reason, I never seem them discussed together. But how did we get here? Well, I don’t think much has changed about islamism over the thousand plus years it was created, it’s a system of subjugation through utter brutality. That one doesn’t need a whole lot of explaining, but it probably needs to be more widely acknowledged for what it is. Two days after a jihadist goes on a rampage in Canada, I see my liberal friends posting how proud they are to see a community come together to clean up some anti-islam graffiti on a mosque. I think that’s a fine gesture, myself, and I think anti-muslim graffiti on a mosque is not the right way to address things. But I do think that people are going out of their way in a stockholm syndrome way to accomodate a theology that is all about conquest, and they will never ever stand up and acknowledge it. What I see, is that the same people who bend over to accomodate the people from which all of these jihadists come from are the same people who publicly and mercilessly ridicule people from other religions, like Christians. Well, now where does this strange preference for one and disdain for the other come from. Well, from my readings, it would appear that this came from communism. It seems to me like one of the early stated goals of communism trying to infiltrate the United States, in particular, was to destroy a sense of Christian values in our culture. It seems like they’ve largely succeeded, to me, any way. In that cultural void, I think, is where feminism took root, and I’m not talking about suffragism, here. This seems like, as I’m coming to believe of all isms, that is a totalitarianism, not an egalitarianism. That’s just me. Now, personally, I’m beginning to believe that the rapid rise of homosexualism is directly related to the predominance of feminism in our modern society. But again, maybe I’m just drawing conclusions from seeing too much of the wrong side of things. The wrong side of things? Well, yes. That’s a topic for another day.

I’ll leave with this. Communism and atheism, I think are directly relate-able concepts. I see plenty of libertarian atheisms, but I think in the long run, they both end up at the same place, and I don’t think libertarians will see it that way. I’ve professed myself an atheist since about 3rd or 4th grade, maybe a little later, but to me, I just said, I don’t believe any of this shit, and went on with my life. I think a lot of the turmoil in my life has been related to just trying to sort this stuff out. I dabbled with trying to go back to being a christian, but it just seemed to leave me in a constant state of trying to convince myself that what I was trying to believe was real, no matter how much I didn’t really believe it was. Anyway, I’m wandering all over the place, but here’s the question that I’m sure I’m not the only one to ask: If you believe in atheism, how do you define what is evil? I ask this, because I am certain that there is something we all agree is evil, but there are other things which we do not agree are evil. The question is, where do you draw the line? Religion, to me, seems to deal in absolutes, while not-religion seems to deal in relativism. On the one hand, there is this barbaric islamism causing wanton horror and destruction in its battle of what it views as evil. Where are we, as a culture, when it comes to what’s on the other hand?

In summary. I think communism led to atheism led to feminism led to whatever the hell ism we are at now. Where ever it is, it seems like we had better get our shit together, because we seem like we are not united enough to stand up to what is facing us.

Amateur Psych Time

“…the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily…”

“…It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously…”

- hitler

I Need A New Direction To Grow Toward

I hadn’t realised that one of the sources of agitation was a sweet person who I really like, but I finally parted ways on facebook after realising that the six year olds dropping f bombs was something she approved of. And I thought, no, I don’t even have kids, but I don’t want anyone who thinks that sort of thing is okay clouding up my mind, let alone any hypothetical kids I don’t really have. So, it’s a little quieter on facebook, there are a few other folks who I suspect I’m eventually going to have to figure out. People who add value in addition to the agitation. But, I also need to grow my network, for any number of reasons. One of them being, I’ve noticed I’m often the first person to like one person in particular’s posts, since I don’t follow that many people yet. It probably has gotten a little too stalkery.