Facebook—What’s All the Fuss?
The Obsession with Facebook expresses a deep rooted desire within each of us—to feel connected with everyone. But does the largest virtual community really deliver the new and improved social world we seek?
So much has already been said about Facebook: that it’s the world’s most successful social network, that millions around the world are already using it, that it’s officially worth over $15 billion, that Microsoft paid $240 million for a 1.6% share of the website, and much more.
But underneath the big numbers, the success, and all the fancy words, there's a question that isn't so easy to answer: Why?
Why do people prefer to socialize using instant messages, SMS, videos and pictures on a website, instead of going out and actually meeting each other in person?
Passing Fad or Social Trend?
Facebook is definitely the talk of the net. Everyone is adding friends, playing with new applications, sharing videos, and uploading pictures. Many internet users honestly admit that they’re hooked on the network and spend many hours socializing there.
However, very few understand why. Think about it: Why spend so many hours on something that offers you no benefit in the real world? Is it because Facebook serves our need to expand our social circle? Is it an “incognito” dating service? Or perhaps it's a spring board for business relations?
None of these questions can be unequivocally answered. But one thing is certain: Facebook is yet another easy getaway from the reality of everyday life. It lets us escape to a ready-made, imaginary world—a world where you have hundreds or even thousands of friends, a world of games, and a world where there’s no social friction (not yet, anyway). All day long, you can send and receive gifts, flirt, browse through people’s personal pictures… and the most painful thing that can happen to you is that someone decides to “poke” you, which means that a silly little icon will appear on your screen. Ouch.
But the question arises: Is Facebook actually becoming a substitute for socializing in the real world? Is it that hard for us to interact with each other in real life?
The Ego That Wants it All, the Soul That Wants Unity
As it happens, we, humans, are social creatures. And as such, we love caressing our egos by showing everyone how beautiful, smart and clever we are—and of course, how popular we are. We love to see and to be seen, and a social networking website like Facebook gives us the perfect opportunity to do so: We can see the whole world and have the whole world see us, with our best foot forward, larger than life.
We present ourselves with our coolest pictures, many compliments and a lot of interests—which might all be covering up a deeper need—one that we all share, which Kabbalah calls “unity.”
We’ll Be In Touch
Like Facebook, Kabbalah also has a lot to do with the connection between human beings. Kabbalists explain that deep down, we are all connected within a single, common soul—a mighty entity made up of myriad individual souls. On that level, we exist in reciprocal, continuous connection with each other, seamlessly intertwined as one integral system.
But at some point in our evolution, we lost our perception of that universal soul and stopped feeling our interconnectedness. The loss of this perception left us with a sensation of emptiness, a feeling that something is missing between us. Ever since, we’ve been searching for ways to compensate for this, to somehow restore the sensation of wholeness and unity that we once felt.
In fact, it is that subconscious “memory” of our connection within the common soul that motivates millions of us to stream into social networks like Facebook. Here we can connect with each other beyond time, space or any other differences. However, this is only a weak semblance of our true, spiritual connection, and it can’t satisfy our need for real unity.
Connection Through Disconnection
The thing that blocks our perception of the common soul, making us feel alienated from each other, is the growing human egoism. While egoism has grown all throughout human history, in recent years it has reached its peak. And while this record-high egoism has brought about unprecedented technological progress, it also prevents us from reuniting with each other. As a result, we begin to feel the deep void in our hearts that yearns for the connection between us to be restored.
But until we do so, the ego will continue making us feel that we have to be bigger and better than others. It drives us to take advantage of each other, and even to harm each other for the sake of personal gain. But most of all, it prevents us from seeing that behind all the schisms, we are all internally connected.
The ego is what makes us hate the thought of being connected to others. We find the idea of “mutual dependence” or “togetherness” uncomfortable, burdensome, and even repulsive. This is why we deny the connection that binds us.
But even as we attempt to deny it, the looming crisis in every realm of our lives, the growing process of globalization and even the dramatic occurrences in nature itself, are forcing us to agree that we are, in fact, interconnected and interdependent.
Today, we are caught between two trends: On one hand, we want to be together with everybody, yet on the other hand, we don’t want to get too close. So the virtual networks offer us the perfect solution: We can socialize with thousands of people while “staying apart” behind our computer screens.
Thus, our vast technology doesn’t really connect us, but instead allows us to feel connected while remaining disconnected. However, the feeling of disconnection that deepens over time uncovers a real need for connection—one that cannot be made through wires or virtual media.
In order to satisfy the real need for connection, we have to “upgrade” our social network—from one based on wires to one that is based on our hearts.
Unlimited Band Width
These times are a unique phase in the development of mankind. We are closer than ever to rediscovering our innate unity, and thereby attaining the purpose of our existence. The wisdom of Kabbalah is precisely the method to restore the unity that exists among all of us—a unity that exists on a deeper level of nature, within the heart of every human being.
But to rediscover that unity, we must undergo a fundamental change in the way we perceive reality. This means that we must transform our egoism to the quality of unconditional love and giving. And by so doing, we will experience a new, spiritual level of reality.
Then we won't need to hide behind our computer screens, trying to grope for that connection with each other. Instead, we will have a crystal clear sensation of that unity among us—this time, through our hearts.