Friday, July 3, 2009

The non-absurdity of Facebook

We have never really understood the Facebook phenomenon. To us, the idea of "connecting" with people we have not seen in years, if not decades, seems a different kind of absurd. After all, there is probably a reason we fell out of touch...

Recently, however, we were reading the final book by the incomparable Ernest Becker (author of The Denial of Death), which posed the following question: "Why do people work so hard to create useless goods when they already have enough to eat?" Indeed, this has always seemed to us the critical reason people are unhappy--they invest their "happiness" in progressively unattainable goals, whether physical or psychological, in the mistaken belief that "more," broadly and nebulously defined, will bring them contentment.

Becker's argument is that such activities help man to feel "heroic," and thus that he may be able to transcend the fate of other mortals. In other words, the more "stuff" I possess (again, broadly defined), the more "important" I must be, and how could such an important person possibly die? This is why we feel so shocked when celebrities die--after all, if it could happen to them...

Viewed in this light, Facebook makes perfect sense--an ever-increasing roster of "friends" is virtually the perfect antidote to a feeling of insecurity about one's mortal makeup. Unfortunately, it is simply another illusion for those desperately searching for a way to escape the reality of this world.

We, as noted, prefer the liberation of accepting this reality. We die, and thus none of it matters.

Enjoy your holiday!


  1. Excellent post, Rick! The only reason I go on Facebook is to spy on my future daughter-in-law. She's very involved in life and I'm jealous.

  2. I suspect that you could write a post about the non-absurdity of many activities - activities that, performed another way, could also bring some fun and happiness to the most absurd man ..

  3. In other words, this post seems to border on judgementalism . You really cant go on facebook and see what your old friends are doing and laugh - it has to be an attempt to be immortal.

  4. Anonymous-

    Not at all - one can certainly enjoy Facebook and still be absurd. Our point is merely that the appeal of Facebook for most people seems to be the accumulation of "friends," which is no different from accumulating things--both are (whether conscious or not) attempts to somehow transcend the physical world and make ourselves immortal. The individual with the most Facebook friends is no different from the ancient king with rooms filled with gold...