Dearest JN readers,
I hope this column finds you well. I had a great holiday, sick on the couch, hacking and coughing. Instead of gifts for the little ones — our nieces and nephews — this year we decided to donate money in their names to charity. How their faces lit up as they realized that money went to help Haiti Earthquake victims instead of buying shoes and stupid pillows shaped like animals. It was a heart-warming sight that I’ll never forget. Luckily, I had removed all the scissors and other sharp objects from the area when they opened their cards.
Several people have asked me: “Huy, why don’t you have a Facebook and Twitter account?” This is usually followed by insults such as “How did you get to work today, by riding a Mastodon? Ha!” Then, they would run to a computer to quickly update their wall: “Totally owned someone with awesome insult!”
Well, I’ll tell you, my friends, why I don’t indulge in social media. Because it marks the destruction of society as we know it. Once-productive people who used to spend their time in creative pursuits like photography, short-story writing, and puppetry, are now chained to their computer, detailing the minutiae of their lives. Kids are using it, too. Facebook is a time-sucking vortex that turns our future scientists and leaders into incoherent zombies who speak in short sentences that signify nothing of importance.
Worse, social media is a vicious, self-perpetuating cycle that inflates and reinforces people’s perceptions of themselves. It generates an illusion that people really care about all the little things that happens in our life. “Jason Edwards just bought a Knect!” “Kevin Nguyen just commented on a photo!” Society cannot advance if we focus on our own personal narratives instead of the universal truths and lessons that can benefit everyone.
In addition, Facebook and Twitter are an insult to writing. We writers, the ones who spend endless hours (or at least several commercials during episodes of “30 Rock” and “Community”), crafting every word, every phrase, shaping them until they shine and shimmer like new pennies skipped across society’s lake of consciousness, understand that writing is an art, and an important one. At this point, I must pull out a weapon that humor columnists only use during times of desperation: quoting more notable, serious columnists. Neal Gabler, in the LA Times, noted: “[The] more we text and Twitter and ‘friend,” […] the less likely we are to have the habit of mind or the means of expressing ourselves in interesting and complex ways.”
Some of the best writings come from letters we write to each other, long letters that convey meanings and that capture a moment in time, or journals that ink down our deepest reflections. The Diary of Anne Frank, letters between Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, etc. Imagine 200 years from now, when literary scholars stumble on examples of communications during our time. I hate to think that “Going Rouge: The Collected Wall Postings of Sarah Palin” and “Tweets from My Brother, an Iraq Soldier” are going to be classics.
Of course, you can argue that these things, like any tools, can be used for good, such as bringing attention to charities and so on. I’m not arguing they’re completely useless, just that they are destroying our society. We have moved into a time when our attention spans grow increasingly shorter, when the focus of our time is not finding and sharing universal truths, but rather finding evidence to inflate the importance of our own lives. Facebook and Twitter are both a manifestation of these trends, but also the cause and the perpetuation of them. It does not bode well for our troubled world. This is why I will not be getting a Facebook or Twitter account anytime soon.
Plus, I have 3 seasons left of “Lost” that I’m trying to watch on Netflix Instant.
Want more hot and steamy Noodles? Visit Huy’s blog at: Jaggednoodles.wordpress.com.