Of Facebook and Football

These two things are a lot like each other

Some time ago, I decided to quit spending so much time on Facebook. I uninstalled the FB app from my smartphone and I took a break from the daily checking of statuses, which was eating up anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours of my waking time each day. It was costing me sleep, which I could not afford to lose, and it was getting me riled, which I can also not afford.

Seriously, it was getting me riled.

And tired.

And I wasn’t getting much else out of it. I felt “connected” in a certain way – but connected to what? All the resentments and frustrations and biases and prejudices and outrage… it’s like everyone I knew with an ax to grind invited me to their personal bitch-fest, apparently assuming that I shared their outrage and disbelief, and I’d happily chime in to add my two cents (which is about as much as those kinds of opinions are worth).

Truly, it seems to me that Facebook is a haven for people with a chip on their shoulder, who would rather complain about things than actually get up and do something about it all. Now, there are those who use it to connect in order to organize activities, and in the case where people need to coordinate their efforts with one another, it is proving helpful. I’m thinking about the Arab Spring and other popular movements where people are standing up for their rights.

But how many of the people I was interacting with on Facebook actually wanted to do something about the state of things? Not many. I mean, there were those who were doing interesting things with their lives and sharing pictures. But not much of it had anything to do with me, and in the end, it just left me feeling cold. Because it wasn’t actually real. I wasn’t actually there. And whatever I imagined about how it was and what it was like, that was still all inside my head… not real at all.

And you know what? When I wasn’t on Facebook, I didn’t actually feel less connected than I was, when I was on it, each and every day. If anything, I felt more calm, more relaxed, more focused on what was going on in my life, that I could actually do something about, versus sitting on the sidelines of life, commenting as a spectator.

I wasn’t in that brawl anymore — at least, I wasn’t an active spectator in all the brawls.

And it occurs to me, after last weekend’s NFL playoff game, when Stevan Ridley got hammered by Bernard Pollard and ended up not only knocked out, but demonstrating the classic “fencing response” (which is a clear indicator of a traumatic brain injury – follow this link to learn more about it) … and everyone has been putting in their two cents about how “that’s football at its finest” …. “Ridley brought it on himself by A) playing football, and B) lowering his head as he ran” …. “Harbaugh is a jerk for celebrating that injury” … “Pollard is a jerk for carrying on like that after the hit” … and so on… that so many of these folks are sitting on the sidelines, commenting away, without having any sort of skin in the game, without having any sort of knowledge of what’s really going on out there… all safe and sound and protected on their side of the television or computer screen. Precious few of the people talking are actually football players — pro or otherwise — they just watch and cheer and boo and comment. They’re onlookers who feel emboldened by the exploits of “their” teams and somehow feel that entitles them to make comments on the health and well-being and cognitive destiny of the ones who are actually on the field.

It’s all a bunch of posturing, brawling, sniping, snarking… people getting riled for the sake of getting riled, getting all worked up, perhaps because that makes them feel more alive and it gives them something to focus their energy on.

But it’s not real. It’s not really part of their lives. It has nothing to do with their day-to-day, the quality of which very possibly pales in comparison to the feelings they get when they watch football or get on Facebook.  It’s not real life for them in any way — it’s a feeling. It’s not genuine. It’s something that’s invented to entertain and distract people from what’s really happening in life. And the net result, unfortunately, is not something constructive, like added rest and relaxation. If anything, it is the exact opposite — more pain and suffering, masquerading as entertainment and distraction. And then the feeling fades… till everyone gets their next fix.

And that’s exactly the kind of stuff I want to get away from in my life — everyone else can have it. I’m more interested in doing something real with my time and energy. I’d rather be working on my skills and planning my life and be taking constructive steps to making things better for myself and my family and the people I care about, than sitting around sniping at others online, feeling gratified that all my “friends” agree with me.

Anybody can post a comment in a forum. Anybody can share something on Facebook. And it might be entertaining for people. It might be distracting from the pains and confusions of the day-to-day. But it’s not real. And in my experience, it does more to upset and disrupt and annoy and add to the overall discomfort of life, than to relieve any of that. Heck, even the “good” stuff is fluff that flies away on the next strong breeze.

Do I remember the details of any of the stuff I’ve read on Facebook over the past years? Not a heck of a lot. Very, very little, in fact.

But do I remember the feeling I usually get when I go on FB and find people just running their mouths about the crap of the day? Oh, yeah – you betcha. And it’s usually not good.

Life is about choices. And I choose not to bother with Facebook anymore. I also choose to not watch a lot of football, because when TBI actually happens to you — for real — and screws up your life, the sight of people launching themselves at each others’ heads with the intent to do harm, just isn’t much fun.

Well, enough talk. Time to get on with my (real) life. Onward.

Author: brokenbrilliant

I am a long-term multiple (mild) Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI or TBI) survivor who experienced assaults, falls, car accidents, sports-related injuries in the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and '90s. My last mild TBI was in 2004, but it was definitely the worst of the lot. I never received medical treatment for my injuries, some of which were sports injuries (and you have to get back in the game!), but I have been living very successfully with cognitive/behavioral (social, emotional, functional) symptoms and complications since I was a young kid. I’ve done it so well, in fact, that virtually nobody knows that I sustained those injuries… and the folks who do know, haven’t fully realized just how it’s impacted my life. It has impacted my life, however. In serious and debilitating ways. I’m coming out from behind the shields I’ve put up, in hopes of successfully addressing my own (invisible) challenges and helping others to see that sustaining a TBI is not the end of the world, and they can, in fact, live happy, fulfilled, productive lives in spite of it all.

6 thoughts on “Of Facebook and Football”

  1. Good article BB. Early on I had to learn the lesson that not everyone is going to get what I am doing and I can not — no matter how much I try — get the approval and validation of some people using Face Book. No worries. I found that I needed to detach myself from those individuals and practice the principle of live and let live. I became a much happier person after I processed my feelings of not being understood or valued by those individuals. Acceptance is a wonderful, but some times hard to do BB. I will say so long for now. These days, I do what I can do, let the whirling dervishes whirl and stay committed to my mission and vision through what I seek to accomplish through Facebook and let go and let God. He alone is in the outcomes. .

    I will say so long for now.

    Have a great day my friend.



  2. I’m sorry that your Facebook experience was that bad. Of course the Facebook experience, like any social gathering and like life itself, depends on a lot of subjective changeable factors, first of all the type of frequentation. What people did you have in your circle of friends and why? Are they all people you know in real life or also perfect strangers?

    My Facebook appreciation process has been so dramatically different from yours that I won’t go in extreme detail so I won’t bore you too much. But I will say three things though.

    One: it exposed me to enormously interesting people as well as a few mediocre, racist, boring, argumentative people (the latter category got entirely deleted from my list in 3 years as soon as I encountered its members) so that today I don’t have to go through the pain of confronting them every single time.

    Two: a few of those ‘enormously interesting’ people I got to meet in real life. With 3 or 4 of them I’m still VERY GOOD friends since 2009.

    Three: Facebook metaphorically saved my life after my accident (I was told I was assaulted by strangers in the street on Dec 13, 2011 and left unconscious in the middle of that same street) firstly because most of my friends and family are in Italy and they didn’t know what happened to me. They wouldn’t have even known that something had happened to me if it wasn’t for the fact that I abruptly stopped my FB activity from the moment I was hospitalized. They created a big buzz, private-texted each other, reached some of my friends in the US who also got alerted to my absence and eventually got in touch with the people I work with.

    I will agree with you though that everyone needs to enjoy Facebook responsibly because it CAN get out of hand or take too much time. But if one doesn’t exceed in the usage, has an interesting and like-minded circle of ‘friends’ (whether we know them in real life or not), chooses good over bad, humor over drama, intelligent conversation over arguments and verbal power struggles, shares art links, quality music, cinema and fashion (and whatever else suits one’s fancy), then the Facebook experience can be quite fulfilling and pleasurable. I can’t even name you all the incredibly talented singers/bands from the past or present and from other countries I discovered through FB, the real time information I got on life events (i.e. when Japan’s earthquake happened I had a number of real and virtual friends on the spot).

    So I guess the bottom line I’m trying to get at is that Facebook is not dissimilar from real life. In the same way that we, in real life, strive to protect ourselves by minimizing the stress, avoiding people who cause it (willingly or unwillingly) and opening ourselves to people who understand or at the very least show respect even when they don’t understand, in that same way we can live our Facebook life.

    Of course I respect your decision, which seems to have turned out well for you. But if you ever, some time down the line, decide to wet your feet again in the FB waters, you will be able to enjoy it more if you make some changes to it. Especially to the people you ‘hang out’ with.


  3. You make some very going points, Cataldo – thanks for sharing your experience. That’s great that you had so many good experiences and you have connected with other people who have added so much to your life.

    I think you’re right about how social media mirrors our real life – I must admit, I am not one for much socializing online or off, so social media are probably not the best “fit” for me and how I like to live my life. I guess I’m actually not really social, to begin with, so social media doesn’t seem like a great use of time to me.

    I also think that I haven’t connected with the right people – they are people I know personally, but when I think about it, they’re not people I would keep in touch with in real life… so why am I doing it online? My life was perfectly fine before they showed up again, after however many years. Why would I suddenly develop a dependency a burning interest in their lives now?

    So, I just went over to Facebook and removed a bunch of folks who I’m really not friends with. This might make a difference, but the whole Facebook thing just gets on my nerves, so why do it?

    Though for some I’m sure that it’s really great – like if your family is in another country and they need to keep tabs on you about your health and well-being. That is a great use of it, and I’m glad it helped you.

    Anyway, it’s a new day. Enjoy


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