Note: I do NOT suffer from depression. I’m not trying to make light of the serious condition that is depression.
I just got back from PyCon. I had a booth for DBCLI (OpenSource project), I gave a talk about my work at Netflix, I manned the job fair table and participated in the sprints. People were coming up to me and showering with praise about my OpenSource project and my talk. It is like getting a lifetime’s worth of positive feedback thrown at me in a span of three days. It was exhilarating.
I got back home and hugged the kids and my wife. My two kids obviously missed me and they clung to me for about 20 minutes before reverting back to being mama’s boys. I really don’t blame them for preferring their mom over me. My wife is just a better human being than me and the kids just know it.
This is where the hint of a mild depression sets in. I start to wonder why my wife and kids aren’t constantly showering me with praise. I just walked from the bedroom to the kitchen and not a single compliment was thrown at me. What is going on? In a couple of days, the trickle of online pampering (via Twitter) starts to taper off. When you refresh twitter there are no more new notifications.
What did I do to deserve this shunning? Why do people hate me? These are questions that run through my mind before I realize I’ve become an insufferable spoiled brat.
It is alarming how quickly my brain got accustomed to being treated like a “celebrity”. I now understand why real celebrities often suffer from depression. They live through this high and low every single day.
I am so glad I don’t have to deal with this emotional roller coaster every day. I shudder at the thought of living in a world where I’m constantly praised for doing even the most mundane things in life. Where everyday activities are treated as accomplishments and complimented as such.
Having 18 friends compliment my breakfast. Or 23 friends fawn over a picture of some cat.
Not just any old compliment but a compliment laced with superfluous adjectives.
“OMG! That toast looks super delicious.”
“That cat melts my heart super hard, it makes me want to eat my own eyelids.”
You know where I’m going with this, don’t you? Social networking sites.
Praising someone is just a click away. You can “heart” someone’s picture, you can “like” someone’s rambling, you can even spread their nugget of wisdom by retweeting. Can you imagine what will happen when all of that is taken away? Someone who is forced to interact with the real world and only the real world. A world where people don’t swarm around someone’s breakfast to talk about how wonderful that toast and scrambled eggs look. Heck, they don’t even bother to take a picture of the food to save it in the archives for the future generations to appreciate.
If you eat a salad without sharing a picture of it, do you really get full?
All of this “attention” is addictive. Soon we’re chasing after the next hit. A bigger hit. Let’s share something thrilling, something shocking, something dangerous.
I’m sure the “big social” knows all about the emotional turmoil that results from this. But why would they continue to find new ways that make it easier to spread this fake attention? Surely, they’re not just trying to maximize their short-term profits at the cost of desensitizing a whole generation of youngsters and sinking them into depression. Because that would make them cold, calculating, heartless, and evil.