A recent conversation about social media with my wife led to some interesting insights about my friends list on Facebook. My wife was saying that she was sick of people on social media always going on about how great their lives are and all the wonderful things that are happening all the time to them. She said it isn’t a jealousy thing, she loves hearing good news from people, what annoys her is that she doesn’t believe it’s true.
My response was that the vast majority of my social media timeline is filled with people talking about how shit everything is and how bad their lives are. The rest is people telling other people they are wrong about what they believe or think. But then I remembered that I have a very different Facebook experience that her.
My Facebook account is very much tailored to my occult interests and extremely restricted in what I allow on my timeline. I use FB Purity and a few other blockers that pretty much stop all news sites, politics, depressing stories pages, a ton of keywords, hate sites, propaganda news sites, and anything of that nature. Stopping listening, watching and reading the news has been one of the biggest factors in the improvement of my mental health over the last few years (Giving up caffeine, by the way, was the biggest boon).
I also have no one from “the real world” on my friendlist – no family, no friends, no one I have actually met in real life. I deleted my “real” Facebook account two years ago because I just couldn’t stand it anymore. I had friends, family, ex-coworkers, people I went to school with – the whole usual suspects. The problem was that they were all from very different times in my life when I had very different jobs or outlooks and none of them mixed well with each other. I felt like all of them wanted me to fit into the role that I had when I met them, and I was been pulled from side to side trying to keep everyone from arguing or wanting me to agree with them. I felt that no matter what I said, I was going to offend someone and end up in an argument.
I had been in a few FB groups, such as CMG V1, I wasn’t very active and I certainly would never post anything public about Magick. My friends list was full of people would would just instantly attack, argue and even bully to some extent. Lots of atheists, lots of people who read The God Delusion and lots of people who were extremely angry if religion, god, spirituality or anything similar was ever mentioned. Like REALLY angry and aggressive. There was also a lot of Catholics and general Christians who also wanted to be heard. I felt unbelievably restricted and kept in a box – different boxes for different people.
I just had enough and deleted it all. I set up a new account that would be used solely for my Magick and Occult interest, which is the one I use now. I see Facebook as similar to an Occult forum and because I have my profile pretty hidden (as much as you actually can on Facebook) I can freely talk about the subject of Magick without some smart arse dickhead I went to school with doing my head in. It has worked very well for the last two years and I couldn’t imagine going back to the old Facebook experience. The only interaction I have with “real world” people is via my artist page, which works well as friends and family can message me and talk to me if they really want to.
Now, back to the start. What I have noticed about having a friend list full of Occult people, particularly Chaos Magicians, is that my timeline has a more negative slant a lot of the time. Of course, there are a healthy dose of Occultists who are a constant stream of “I am brilliant and everything I do and say is brilliant, and everyone who disagrees with me is a shit” and you can always count on there being some stupid ego argument happening at all times with them, but in general most of my timeline is filled with people complaining about their lives, about situations, about money, how shit other people are, how unfair things are, how angry they are, or how shit life is in general. Lots of people going through terrible things, whether actual or in their heads. Lots of anger, lots of sadness.
When I had a “real” Facebook account this was not the case, and it not what my wife’s current experience. On the “real” account depression and being sad was often frowned upon and argued with. Being sad on social media was seen as a no-no. My feed was full of people talking about how great their lives are, and how great they are, yet when I posted a number of positive memes that didn’t go down too well either. Again, there seemed to be this restriction – you are allowed a certain amount of sway in mood – not too positive, not too sad – and moving outside of this box is really not allowed. I found it totally horrible and I am so glad I got out of it.
But, I don’t really know the reason for this seeming difference between an Occult filled Facebook and a “real” Facebook, but there definitely appears to be one. Are Occultist’s just a more depressed bunch of people who are attracted to Magick because they want to get out of their perceived horrible lives, or are they just more honest about how shit life is for them? Or is it just my timeline? Is it just my friend list? Or has life gotten a bit harder and more depressing the last few years? If that was true then why doesn’t my wife’s feed reflect that?
And it must be kept in mind that Facebook aren’t above maniuplating people’s feelings.
Anyway, I could go on rambling but instead I’ll turn it over to you. What’s your experiences and thoughts on this matter? Similar experience to me or not at all?
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10 Replies to “Magick, Facebook and I”
Recently I was thinking about the emotional and mental effects from Facebook (it’s fun how it really works as a kind of egregore). I was thinking about doing just like you: filtering my experiences with what I just wanted from it. But I realized that if I did that I would only fool myself: I wished just the funny and kill-time things, what makes me very addicted. So I’m just separating things I wanna see on facebook: things I like to see, things that are important to see, and things I really need to see (which are very, very few). I’m trying to make facebook a door to understand other people, rather than a means for enterteinment, because I think this, and the “tailor-made for rage” news and fake news, are the most nocive things on Facebook.
About sadness and happiness, I thinks it’s balanced. People seems to be both in the same day sometimes.
Yea, I totally get that if you block everything you don’t like it just becomes an echo chamber but I am totally fine with that. I want Facebook to be a sort of Magick echo chamber, I don’t want it to be my news source in any way whatsoever – but I do get where you are coming from.
My experience is pretty mixed. I don’t use any sort of filter program (outside of occasionally just blocking pages) and my profile has everyone from childhood friends, teachers, and family to people I’ve met through mental health groups, artists, former co-workers (mostly from social work) to a huge number of magicky people from numerous conflicting paths. Some of them mix well, some not so much. Some of them always seem miserable, some always seem happy. I can agree with your wife that the “always happy” is often b.s. as I’ve gotten enough private messages from many of those people asking for help. I thought about separating accounts, but have realized that I’m in a position to crack peoples echo chambers and it would better serve to utilize that to break down barriers between demographics. I’ve always been considered one of the strange ones, so people largely don’t bother trying to put me into a box.
That’s good, it seems like you have managed to strike a great balance there. Fair play to you, Amy!
I’d regular people are simply towing the percieved perception that it’s not acceptable to talk about how they really feel.
They’re conditioned by society to conform and at some point being honest about your mood came to be frowned upon. So people stopped saying they were miserable and others noticed their friends only posted relatively positive stuff and thought they’d be ostracized for saying they were lonely/sad/angry/etc. so kept it back, further strengthening the belief to the point others do start being shitty/removing friends about negative posts – even though they all have times they want to reach out and say “I’m unhappy.”
It’s a false reality and not an accurate portrayal of people’s lives outside of social media.
I cut out the crazy and depressed updates for months, even with the magic folks because I was deliberately attempting to change my perceptions and people’s perceptions of me but it actually just left me worse because I’d been keeping things locked up I needed to deal with. I’ve noticed that I’ve felt more connected since dropping the act on my personal account than I ever did and this came about because I noticed others dealing with bad shit publicly.
Essentially, I think the occultists not giving a shit for social conventions and greater understanding of how the world works allows a more honest reality to show through, because we build the feedback loops necessary to welcome others to share their negative, crazy and generally darker sides that they have to keep from regular reality in order to fit in without being outcast.
TLDR: Two realities that mirror and exaggerate our real lifes: one where everyone is A-OK but burying troublesome things and one where we’re all a bunch of screwed up misfits and don’t care who knows.
Thanks for your thoughts, Lucy.
Pewdiepie did a video recently on “Forced Optimism on Youtube” which echos a lot of what you say. Obviously he’s not talking about FB, but there is a lot fo overlap.
It applies to all social media, really.
I used to be extremely active on Twitter untill a couple of years ago and noticed that people talked in trends.
When I joined, it was about sharing tidbits about your life but as the platform grew, people stopped using it less for personal reasons and more often as a soapbox for societal issues and personal niche interests – very few shared their lives anymore, Just opinions. After a couple of years, I noticed people were removing me because whilst I joined the various Zeitgeists, I had no issues speaking about my depression and other mental health issues that affected me.
What always irks me is where this notion comes from that negative emotions are verboten to speak about in public. If I were the paranoid conspiratorial sort, I could accuse big pharma of keeping the illusion up to perpetuate the anti-depressant business but I suspect it goes back much farther in time than that.
In slightly related topic, have you ever read “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed” by Jon Ronson? It really goes into how bad twitter is at times.
No, I’ve not read it yet. I’ll have a look into it though.
Twitter really is a toxic cesspit of ego and politics, though. I guess due to the point I made above. People on Twitter aren’t really people though: they’re a set of beliefs with a name. Essentially Twitter turns a person into an icon or brand whilst still having a real human being with emotions thoughts and feelings behind it.
And unable to share these things without damaging the reputation of the branding, you end up with a whole bunch of people unwittingly hurting each other because they never see past their names become synonymous with the belief – hence why Anita Sarkeesan took so much flak: she was the brand, her opposition, however, was a slogan not connected to any individual person and couldn’t really be fought.
But I digress… Although I’ve got ideas for some magic work involving Twitter now.
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