Being that the world is in utter chaos, I take comfort in knowing that there are so many experts on social media who are offering complimentary guidance on everything from disease control to environmental policies. I threw away my collection of encyclopedias long ago but I don’t need them anymore because I have the gift of herd mentality and groupthink. Thank God for the ever-growing abundance of concerned citizens out there who have the answers to the world's woes! And they're even my Facebook "friend!"
As I eagerly lunge for my phone each morning, narcissistically checking to see who's engaged with the posts I've made, I almost always find myself on my newsfeed. While I scroll through the endless litany of people giving free advice on all the things I currently question, I'm in awe that I get to be part of this enlightening time in history. People with no medical background get to instruct us on proper health etiquette while we're in stores, out on the streets, and even in our cars, as we experience this pandemic. What I find most impressive is that the more time we spend online, reading people's posts, the more qualified we are to give valuable counsel. The knowledge I’ve acquired looking at memes while attending Facebook University far surpasses any of my failed attempts at higher learning. Even better- people who I know have never entered into the seminary stand at their virtual pulpits every day & preach. Satiating hungry followers with wise words, they spout their sermons and then gloat in their own popularity. MLK would be proud of the progress we've made, I think. Cyber experts everywhere are online indoctrinating themselves to be medical professionals, ministers, politicians, and influencers. Wow! The world really is our oyster... and here I thought we were all just a bunch of cogs in a system designed to keep us stupid & silent.
When I moved to Macedonia in 2008 I didn't have a cellphone, I didn't have a Facebook account, and Instagram was just a twinkle in Kevin Systrom's eye. Christ, was I happy going through life, eyes wide open to the world, just taking in my surroundings. One thing's for sure... In those days, I never bumped into a tree because I had a cellphone in my face. I got my information the old fashioned way- by either picking up a book or through the oral tradition. I would gather with folks from every walk of life and we would sit, in-person, and share our thoughts passionately but pragmatically. We spanned the political spectrum. We were Eastern Orthodox, Muslim, & Atheist. We were young & old, gay & straight. We were members of the human race, genuinely hoping to gain some perspectives beyond our own noses. Even though we would convene at a smokey bar, in a country where almost none of us were originally from, we didn't make one another feel shame about our backgrounds or viewpoints. All were welcome at our table. I'm too frightened to sit at the Facebook table any more. Someone would probably either pull my chair out from under me for a laugh or pee on my food because my stance on birth control differs from theirs.
Were it not for the fact that I have a business I'm trying to promote (our band) I would close all of my social accounts, donate my phone & computer to the nearest thrift store, and smile as I drove out of the parking lot. I would likely suffer withdrawals similar to those of a drug addict, but I know that in the big picture it would be good for my mental health to rid myself of the most virulent temptation I've ever known. I could get back to the basics and not have a little digital ball & chain innocently sitting in my pocket, yet choking my psyche. I've never claimed to be an expert on anything. Because I'm not. I'm no better than Facebook Amy.