Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Social Media, Social Mess

    Social Networking, Social Media. Just another source of mutual masturbation for those who want their egos stroked, and those who love to do the stroking. For others it is a wasteland of rejection, snubbing, rumor mongering, and invisibility. It is one more place to feel unpopular and go unnoticed. Just another place to feel like a quiet voice lost in a crowd.
    It is an interesting place for a voyeur Outsider to watch the interplay, misunderstandings and obvious boot-licking that goes on in all social groups no matter the age, education or social status. But it is also another reason for an Outsider to feel even more the social pariah by viewing these interactions and having to fight the desire to flee from the human race in all its sticky glory.
    Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy the social networks as a way to keep connected with friends and family, and to keep my finger on the pulse of the world around me. But at the same time I find myself feeling the same hurt and invisibility of the social fringy that I was in high school. Funny how humans need social interaction and acceptance, even when they shun society as a whole. Shun and shunned, all in one untidy package.
    Oddly, and maybe inappropriately, I am minded of overcrowded chickens; one will be selected at random to be the pariah, to be slowly pecked to death by the other chickens. A social sacrifice. There is no rhyme or reason to it. It is random and subjective. I do know this is an exaggeration, an over dramatic viewpoint based on my own feelings of being the social pariah. It is an attempt to understand the subjective nature of popularity.
    Why do some people draw a fawning crowd of sycophants, while others seem to be invisible to the populace? I used to think it was based largely on sex appeal, attractiveness, or in some cases wealth and notoriety. Actually, I still believe this to a degree, but there is something else at work. And I can't quite put my finger on it. Do some put off a pheromone that draws in those inclined to fawn and coo? And do others put off the opposing pheromone that keeps everyone at a polite distance, avoiding eye contact and interactions? It is more curiosity than finger pointing. I know there are those that seek out the crowds, parties, vigorously seek attention and acclaim. And others, like myself, who tend to avoid crowds, lurk in the shadowy fringes, make unpopular observations about the dark messiness of society, and generally make others uncomfortable about their own humanity and desires for acceptance.
    This is a double edged sword. As one who lurks on the fringe, I feel the angst of being the Outcast and social pariah, but know that it is self inflicted. Self inflicted in the sense that I fight against any urges to do the "acceptable thing," to jump through social hoops, to bend my personality to fit into that weirdly subjective standard of popularity. If anything I perversely turn away from doing what I know could raise my standings in the eyes of others, those that seem to "count" in the popularity contest. And yet, I find myself hurt by the feelings of invisibility and nonacceptance. I know I can't have it both ways. And so I continue to choose the solitary path, despite the loneliness and feelings of rejection.
    Maybe as a writer I feel I have to suffer for my art? Maybe I am just an expert at self-flagellation? Maybe I am too empathic and allow myself to see too deeply into the hearts of others? I see and understand what goes on all around me, sometimes feeling as if I am prying up the masks and seeing the true faces beneath. Unhappy faces. Bestial faces. This is frightening and does little to encourage me to seek out my fellow humanity. No, not everyone hides beneath a mask. There are those who are open natured, good and kind. But there are those who are self-centered, self-obsessed, crass, harsh and uncaring, hiding behind masks of joviality.
    It is not a gift to be able to see with unscaled eyes, it is a curse. It makes it near impossible to fit into regular society without also creating a mask, a mask of the calm, rational, "normal" human. So we all work to fit into society in one way, shape or form. For some, it is just to slip past unnoticed, thought of as "normal," blend in with chameleon-like skill, be the fly-on-the-wall to observe and take note of the strange interactions of the species Homo sapien.

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