As I was debating my participation on Facebook and what seems like the biggest waste of time, energy and brain cells, and how I have tried for 7 years to prick the spirits, minds and hearts of a faceless crowd, I thought about Søren Kierkegaard’s quote.
“A fire broke out backstage in a theatre. The clown came out to warn the public; they thought it was a joke and applauded. He repeated it; the acclaim was even greater. I think that’s just how the world will come to an end: to general applause from wits who believe it’s a joke.” -Soren Kierkegaard, Either/Or, Part I
I do believe that Facebook is nothing but a theater of entertainment and it’s public demands to be entertained. Consequently, if you are not in the business of entertaining, then you shall by decree of the public and Facebook’s algorithm be completely ignored. So, you better bring something to the stage…whether that be living through your kids or grandkids, obsessively talking about food or your consumer lifestyle, escaping through puppy videos, pretending to be a scientist, philosopher, political analyst, moral judge or by trying to prove that you are the most fun and zany person in the world.
We are all very aware that the Facebook doesn’t want its public to know the truth and for the most part, neither do we want to know the truth. Rather, we want to be irritated, agitated, elated and congratulated on reducing ourselves to a consumer who can forget his or her own actual life and curate the illusion (profile) that our opinions and commentary have any leg (definitely not any sort of truth) to stand on.
With this in mind, I pondered (once again) my use of unsocial media and my participation in the public arena. Was not silence of the crowd communicating loud and clear that neither my posts or myself were liked? Was I still entertaining the thought that what I had been doing for 7 years of trying to get people to WTFU had a chance? I believe I have tried my hardest to communicate truth in a variety of ways through several entry points including food, physical health, my own personal story, books, quotes, philosophy, great writers, 47 years of living experience, radical honesty, poems, stories, confessions, beautiful pictures, videos and ponderings.
But given the depth, width and height of the silence from the crowd that I have experienced, one would assume the crowd, who I have tirelessly tried to engage, has got it all figured out and are living happy and healthy lives. Perhaps I might believe this except that I see what does get the crowd excited, and I see pure joy and excitement flow into a post announcing the opening of a donut shop in a town that is battling high rates of diet-related disease and sicknesses, limited access to organically grown fruits and vegetables, healthy meals and businesses that support and encourage a health community. It is clear given the reality of our world’s over consumption, the reality of our community’s over consumption and the reality of our own over consumption and the denial of those results on social media that something is amiss.
Though I am disturbed by the popular desire and acceptance for gluttonous consumption, I am not surprised to find it on a site that offers an endless feed and unfettered access to consuming. On a side not, what does surprise me is the political and moral commentary from people who say they are “Christian” but participate in the same consumer lifestyle that contradicts the Way, the Truth and the Life of Christ. Even more surprising than these posts is the unbridled enthusiasm that such contradictions unleash from the “christian” crowd.
How do those, who believe they will be held accountable for idolatry, gluttony and every idle word, speak idle words condoning gluttony, idolatry and judgement? How does anyone read just the first few chapters of the gospel of Matthew and not be leveled by not only our lack of constraint but our rapacious appetites?
Do we (christian or nonchristian) have no real appetite for truth because we are too busy consuming every sort of entertainment the world provides? The pornification of our culture is the curation and addiction to pleasures i.e. “experiences.” What brings us the most pleasure-Food, drink, shopping, busyness, power, success, money, sex, politics, movies, our phones, our homes, our lifestyles, games, hobbies, being right, screaming our opinions and unleashing our righteous anger?
Is Facebook our theater and social media our modern day colosseum, where we are entertained by death and the annihilation of truth, love, our neighbors, our enemies and ourselves? Do we want what we want and death to anyone who doesn’t give us what we want? We want to be entertained! We want to see justice play out on our screens, and people get what we think they deserve- likes and dislikes, happy faces and angry faces, and we want them to feel our silence, our wrath and our praise.
I didn’t know I was taking it this way but in writing about our modern day theater- it has come to light that we are indeed entertained by cruelty and death. I just watched a person get annihilated on Twitter for her facial expression. Are we that crowd? Do any of us really want our lives to be judged by our big or little mistakes? How will anyone live- if we live in fear of the crowd finding out that we are all broken, messed up and fully capable of making some really awful mistakes?
Obviously, there is so much more to unpack here but I want to get back to my intent on writing this post. As I was debating my own participation in social media and why I am not entertaining nor do I want to be an entertainer, I thought about Soren’s quote. What seemed to stick out in that thought was the clown and his role. As I thought about this, I was like “OF COURSE no one was listening to the clown because the clown had been there completely participating in entertaining the crowd!” So, when the clown spoke the truth- NO ONE LISTENED! Eureka!!! The clown didn’t have a chance to be heard, because he was a clown. When you think about it, he wasn’t even considered a person or seen as a person- he was a clown, a entertainer and a product curated for consumption.
In fact, the clown was just as faceless as the crowd and he was using the crowd as much as the crowd was using him, and for this transaction to occur- many concessions had already been made. The rules of engagement had been established and agreed to in order for a crowd to gather and and for this “experience” to be as entertaining as humanly possible. No one came to the theater for truth and no one came for anything other than the necessary entertainment to escape the past, present and future reality. Likewise, a crowd does not gather in arenas for justice but for entertainment, and to forget about their own past and present evil and injustice, and the need for future grace and mercy to avoid evil and injustice.
At this point, does not social media operate as both theater and arena- and the clown is not just the entertainer, but the accuser- and we are entertained and distracted from our own participation in being judge and jury of the truth.
Who are the clowns of our day- besides celebrities, athletes, politicians,journalists, posters, influencers, commentators, experts, corporate executives, you and me? Are we all the clowns and the crowd? Are we all participating in this theater? What happens when one of us sees the truth and tries to tell the truth? Will we just be laughed at, dismissed, hidden and ignored? And really how could we be taken seriously, if we have been the clown who has done nothing but participate in the show that distracts, denies, deflects, helps us disassociate from reality/ the truth and defends our right to entertain and to be entertained.
What will it take for us to STOP participating! The world is literally on fire! We need real people who know the real truth to speak the truth- not to the crowd but to the real people we are in real relationships with! This starts with your own relationship with yourself. Can you tell the truth? What does the way you live say about you? Do you love yourself? Do you know yourself? Do you accept yourself? What are you doing that would show someone that you are living and fullY participating in a loving and truthful relationship with yourself?
Ask the questions?