I Have Become A Lifesize Cardboard Cutout On Facebook

3 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack,

This letter was supposed to be a funny one about how I’m a typical dad in the way I hide your toys when you refuse to put them away when I ask you to.

But seeing that this is my last letter of 2013, I want it to have a more retrospective perspective.

So I’ll save my originally intended programming for next week and/or next year.

Instead, I can’t help but think of what this year, 2013, has taught me on this gloomy and rainy December night; letting this all soak in.

It’s been an interesting year for me in that it’s been like a dichotomy.

Three months into the year, I became a (new wave) vegan, which proved to take an epic psychosocial toll on me; yet physically and psychologically, I’ve never been healthier, and more at peace and in a state of gratitude.

(I have even sworn off caffeine for the rest of my life, as well; because I see it as the most unregulated addictive stimulant in the world.)

One of my favorite bands ever, Third Eye Blind, sings one of my favorite songs ever, “Motorcycle Drive By.” My favorite line of it serves as a bit of a motto to describe the private challenges I’ve dealt with inside my brain this year:

“And there’s this burning like there’s never been/And I’ve never been so alone/And I’ve never been so alive”

Before it sounds like I’m throwing myself a pity party, let me just clarify. I’m not alone. I have you and Mommy. I have family. I have friends. I have plenty of meaning in my life.

I have joy!

But there’s an undeniable disconnect that I suddenly became aware of during the weeks following my denying of animal products for nutritional sustenance. It was like cutting myself off from the rest of the world. I by default ostracized myself from what is normal in society. After all, I no longer participate in that historical human shared experience.

Then a few months later, for all practical purposes, I did something similar when I “quit” Facebook.

I went from spending a minimum of 30 minutes to 60 minutes a day scrolling through my Facebook feed, commenting and corresponding, and accidently instigating polarizing conversations based on my opinions that half my friends agreed with, while the other half didn’t.

Plus, I confused a lot of people whenever I used sarcasm.

So since June, I have made a conscious effort to spend only 30 to 60 seconds (!) a day on Facebook. Perhaps, in a sense, it’s selfish to my Facebook friends, but for this 2nd half of the year, the only news on Facebook I have known about is what shows up at the very top of my news feed; which is what the free market of my 960 Faceook friends decided was the most relevant that day.

After all, that’s how I found out about this amazingly stellar article, “Selfie Syndrome- How Social Media Is Making Us Narcissistic,” which is currently going viral.

It explains that, based on studies, “People who tend to use Facebook the most tend to have more narcissistic personalities or insecure personalites.”

That’s a weird thought… to be both narcissitic and insecure.

Well, in theory, that was me for the first half of the year.

No question- the second half of the year, sans Facebook dependance, was by far the better half of the year for me. I have simply been happier.

I have had time to focus on what really matters: you and Mommy. Being a dad and being a husband.

Without the two of you, who am I?

Just a bearded dude in a medium-sized funny t-shirt.

As for Facebook, I am now merely a lifesize cardboard cutout who smiles and waves, but ultimately, has no personal opinions.

Because like the idea of free speech, the “social factor” of social media is an illusion.

Anything I say or post in social media could come back to haunt me in my future career, and I’ve skated pretty close on that fine line this year.

But I’ve taken that extra 30 to 60 minutes a day that I used to spend trying to be clever on Facebook and Twitter, and instead use it on you and Mommy.

Here’s to 2014- the most realistic, unnarcissitic, most secure year I’ve never known- full of art and meaning.

 

Love,

Daddy

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