I have a Facebook account and Daily Babylon has a Twitter account – of course – but rather than finding either of them addictive I am finding each of them somewhat repellent. I am actually avoiding these “places” rather than be drawn to them. It’s the exact opposite of what it should be.

Recently, like a bullet in the head, I realized why. I had logged onto my Facebook account and was just puttering around, adding new friends, cleaning the place up a little, keeping an eye on the various comments as I went along, when it hit me.

Everyone tries too hard to be healthy, happy and positive on Facebook; rare are the posts that actually express an honest sentiment that might reflect something from the negative (i.e. truthful) side of life. People just don’t want to give vent that way in these environments, which is understandable. But after a while, at least for me, the whole thing becomes overwhelmingly forced (i.e. false) and I just want to go away, and I do.

I’m not sure there is any alternative to leaving. I can just imagine interspersing holistic comments from others such as, “I’m spending the morning in my garden” and “Coffee has saved my life once again” with some cynical knee-jerk aside like, “Look closer; there are snails all around,” or “There is no coffee in America,” in the process leaving a bad smell in the air that drives everyone from the room. Who could blame them?

Or not even as a reaction to anything, but just to say, “Hey, I’m out of work. My wife is sick and has no health insurance and the future looks pretty fucking bleak. Comments?” Who wouldn’t flee from such a naked posting. I would, too, but only because I would instantaneously recognize it as a painful cry from the heart, and who fucking needs that?

Actually, I do. In guilt, I would probably, hopefully, circle back and engage. I don’t like feeling uncoupled from others. The more of these tools I use, the more reality I crave, and the craving never ebbs.

Indeed, I went to see a play this weekend at my theater company, where I am overdue with my dues and way overdue being in a play, and the ache to do something real was all too palpable as I watched a terrifically talented cast wrap their hearts, minds and bodies around very challenging material. Nothing is more real than theater done for real, even though the online experience has the potential to put one single post before more eyeballs than will see you perform over the run of a production.

Is it any wonder, then, that the online experience feels so fleeting and false when compared to the heavy lifting required to make even the smallest role significant night after night after matinee? How could anything so thin as a Facebook account compete with something so solid?

And yet we seem to be flocking to the former over the latter with abandon, all the while convincing ourselves that we’re in the thick of things. I suppose it is true in the same way a drop of water in a flowing river is in the thick of things, in the sense that the accumulation of drops creates a force of nature many times more powerful than each individual drop.

But I might argue that the actual benefit to the drop of spending too much time in that river is nil, at best. Better, I should think, to drip spectacularly from a single leaf, reflecting the beauty of the forest for the sublime enjoyment of a single sentient person.