Happy birthday, me.
As an experiment with cyberspace vs meatspace reality, my facebook birthday is 5 months away from my real one. No surprise, I get more text messages and “spontaneous” happy birthdays on the street in August than on my actual birthday. I don’t think much of it, it’s just a joke I like to play.
I am terrible with birthdays so it’s always nice so see someone unexpected to remember mine. One of them, one of my closest friends, invited me to come hang out at the club where she works so I can fill my evening with free orange juice and awkward conversation. After all, on our birthdays we are obliged to have fun, like it or not.
As I was hanging over a table near the dance floor, I couldn’t help but think of a party I worked for recently, that also turned out eerily empty around that time at night. A bunch of people were exchanging joke dance moves and boasting to the ones with the tits, and I slowly came to the realization that I couldn’t give a shit about this whole night, no matter how hard I tried.
I hated the music. I hated the other people. The only reason why I was there was my friend, and she was busy working. My company had brought friends of their own that I didn’t know, and the majority of my time was spent staring at the disco lights.
I don’t dislike the Overpoort district; I hate it and I hate it more every minute I spend there, which are way too many. I hate the people. I hate the music more. Everything about that area, I don’t care even a single shit about. With everything that is said and done there, the best thing I can do is feign interest. And feign I do.
The downside about trying to grow a mentality to open up to the world around me, is that I often do things I don’t feel like doing. Saying yes to invitations I don’t want to go to, just to see how it will turn out- Stuff like that. I try to like things a lot of the time, and often enough, that effort pays off. If I’m not entertained, usually I can still bring myself to being interested.
Regardless, I spend too much time in places I don’t want to be, lately. I am getting a little sick and tired of forcing smiles and talking about shit I couldn’t care less about. The weather, career choices, alcohol, computer games, your kids, I don’t care about any of that shit.
I never thought I’d say this, but all this nonsense makes me miss boarding school. Things were easier then, when personalities were measured by reliability instead of alcohol tolerance or net income, and the world wasn’t something to adjust to, but fight against. Together. Where a punch in the gut was a legit form of communication, and brutal honesty was the only way of getting around.
I was raised like this, and pretending I’m not is wearing a mask, end of story. I’ve become very good at it, but in truth I felt more at ease being scolded by my staff sergeant than talking to some self-righteous dick about house rent. Many of the people closest to me have entirely different interests than I do and that’s fine, but I’m starting to reach a point where I just feel awkward all day, no matter of where I am, or with who.
In my ideal world, Overpoort Street would be burned to the ground. Students would get over themselves. No one would have a particular care about alcohol and getting shitfaced wouldn’t be the coolest thing in the world. Paintball would be everyone’s hobby and an old-fashioned fistfight (to be avoided) won’t cost you the respect of those around you. Not a single person would still care about cars, football, cats or season whatever of Grey’s Anatomy (or however the fuck you spell it).
Anything that deviates from this little dream world of mine, is a place where I wear masks. I generally don’t mind much, but it would be nice if I don’t have to pretend for once. Maarten the funny guy, the philosopher, the charmer, the tough guy, the whatever, but always something. Because apparently, just Maarten won’t do.
He’s boring. He’s a freak. He sits quietly when there’s stuff he could say. He doesn’t care about the cool things I own. He’s rude, unfriendly to my friends. Wears rags, doesn’t clean his room, and gets excited about weird stuff. What a drag. What a waste.
I would try to fit in a “happy birthday” joke but it would just make me seem more depressed.
PS I’m not.
I’m a facebook whore. It’s true. I hate facebook and I deny its existence in public, but I’m on it every day and it’s the first and last thing I do when my computer is on, which is all the time.
I know I’m not the only one, despite the things I hear on the street: No one ever checks their profile, and would never be on facebook if it wasn’t for this-or-that application. Photos, party invitations, international friends,… Everyone has some specific use for it or else they would have ditched social networking sites altogether and lived happily without it.
Not me. I pretty much use every application facebook has to offer, and I would feel very disconnected from this city if I ever lost it. I use it to send pictures to others, to get someone’s phone number when I lose it, to remember their birthdays, to see who organizes what where when. I wish I didn’t, but quitting would be a hell of a lot easier if there was some real-life alternative like randomly encountering friends every time I leave the house.
I know about the legal issues, and I know about my personal data being sold. And in all honesty, I don’t really give a shit. I don’t care that robots know where I live, or that the photos that I upload automatically become facebook property- I wasn’t planning on getting rich off them anytime soon. Zuckerberg can be bathing in money or light his stove with it, and it still wouldn’t change my opinion about his company. Nothing facebook ever did changed my life for the worse, and if they want to get loaded by offering me this free service, I say go for it.
People criticize facebook for “immoral” politics and that’s good because it keeps their policies in check, but at the same time, we all stuff ourselves with products from multinationals that drain source water and sell it back to the local indian community in plastic bottles (I’m not going to give examples because Nestlé will have me shot).
“They” tell me my life will be better without facebook, but I don’t think so. There seems to be this big misunderstanding that the less you have, the more you are, but for someone introverted and distant like I tend to be, it’s a blessing. It is a social network that lets me get in touch with my friends, and that’s pretty much all I’m concerned about. If this shit would somehow grow from trees, suddenly no one would have a problem with it.
I guess it’s the artificial aspect about it that bothers us. Because this warm contact is machine-made, it becomes a paradox as though our love is wasted on the emotionless computer before us. While that might be the case, it also brought me a lot closer to my friends since I quit my gaming addiction and I like to believe that all that love is far from wasted but instead helped me open up to a large number of people I would otherwise have lost contact with. If that goes at the cost of my surfing habits being sold to foreign companies, I find that a small price to pay.