Dallas — Facebook exhausts me. I dutifully went on Facebook being part of a “with it” social network marketing effort for Theatre Three. I’m not liking what I see regularly. People I like (and some that I love) keep taking pictures of food they’ve fixed or ordered at some trendy restaurant. Stop! Others overshare domestic traumas (and occasional accomplishments) that only encourage banal gossip. PLEASE STOP! The selfie craze has so unleashed my narcissist Facebook friends that I fear for their stability.
Mind you, I like people who have a pride in their sense of self (even including how they look) but I’m uneasy with the desperation to be seen that this flood of selfies reveals.
But those are trivial complaints. What’s really alarming me is how willingly the culture has abandoned the idea of having a private life; the self in a cocoon of intimacy with treasured family (both actual and selected). That intimacy is nourishing, validating in its processes and appropriately craved by the human psyche. In privacy we gain authority. We choose our experiences. We consider how we let the world come to us and how we go into the world. There’s twaddle enough in life’s banalities to waste all the breathing time one is allotted on this earth. There’s gotta be a better way to live.
There is. Here’s a plug for the Arts. Think how better we are for being inspired by music, by exciting dance, by the ideas in literature, and by the gifts of insightful actors. Think how that “better” that we feel is deeply private and personal even though the experience is communal. Think how we’ve all had revelations in the theatre—those “aha!” moments where truth connects in our private thoughts to our unique life experience. Tell me, when was the last time a Facebook moment got to “aha!”? At best, for me, it’s a hmmm moment and more frequently a “ho-hum” moment.
The enemy, as usual, is sloth. Dear readers, let’s face it: we all are the authors of our lives and writing a good script requires thought and energetic effort. Surfing through Facebook could be fun enough and it’s certainly trendy. Maybe if people were more genuinely clever instead of just jokey I’d be less grouchy.
Despite my whining here, I laugh easily and with pleasure. I think I’ll get off my duff and go to the theatre—Theatre Three and other theatres too—for the REAL life I find there.
» Jac Alder is the Executive Director-Producer of Theatre Three in Dallas. Look for his monthly musings in Bit by Bit, which run on the second Sunday of the month. Here is a list of previous columns:
- September 2013: Theater's unsung philantrophists
- October 2013: Theater artists and their critics
- November 2013: Ch-Ch-Changes
- December 2013: What the Audience Knows
- January 2014: What's New?
- February 2014: Upgrading to the Modern World
- March 2014: Not to Worry
- April 2014: If Not for Shaw
- May 2014: Back to the Future
- June 2014: 500 Ways to Remember
- July 2014: They're Alive. ALIVE!
- August 2014: Raise Your Voice
- September 2014: Playwrights I Have Known
- October 2014: The Bread and Butter
- November 2014: Music, Dance, Art, Architecture
- January 2015: Learning to be Civil