Happiness is Analog by Mary Sharratt

I hate Fakebook.

Social media depletes my energy. It depresses me. It’s designed to create a sense of anxiety, comparison, envy, and lack as we compare our rough edges with the carefully curated images of other people’s lives. Images that only reveal the surface of things, because social media has no time for depth.

Social media kills authenticity. You have to be so careful what you post because you never know who might be trolling you or what kind of backlash you might get, especially if you’re female.

Fakebook and Twitter are also truly evil purveyors of fake news.  

One day in spring 2022, shortly after the beginning of the Ukraine war, I was in a store in Caldas da Rainha, Portugal, attempting to pay for my purchase, when the cashier started pontificating how Ukraine was evil and the Russians were innocent because she saw a video on Twitter that said so. I promptly went home and deleted my Twitter account. This was before Elon Musk took over.

I never liked Twitter, anyway. As far as I was concerned, it was just an anger and outrage factory. Not for sensitive souls like me.

I never liked Fakebook, either, but felt and still feel, to some extent, obligated to be on it for the sake of book publicity. But now I wonder if it’s even useful for that.

And then I had my Ultimate Fakebook Disillusioning Experience.

In September 2022, I attempted to share the following New York Times article on Fakebook, detailing how Russian trolls, impersonating Black women on social media, derailed the U.S. women’s march.  

The NYT article that Fakebook didn’t want me to share.

Interestingly, Fakebook’s algorithms suppressed the article so that it got zero engagement. They evidently “disappeared” a legitimate piece of investigative journalism because it portrayed Fakebook in a negative light. In the following weeks, the same thing happened every time I tried to share a New York Times article, even when it had nothing to do with social media. For example, I posted a link to Hilary Mantel’s obituary and it was buried, as was my link to my January 2023 essay for Feminism and Religion. Only links with animal pictures appear to get any engagement on my Fakebook page these days, like my recent link to an article about Giant Belgian Rabbits.  

Big Data only wants me to post about rabbits.

I believe that as more and more people wake up, Fakebook and Twitter are going into decline. A lot of writers are migrating toward Substack, which provides space for deeper, more substantive content, and which makes me nostalgic for the golden days of Livejournal, before it got eaten by Russian trolls. I remember when these vintage platforms were filled with authenticity and genuine sharing on matters that meant something. When it wasn’t just about posturing and image.

Young people are abandoning Fakebook in droves while a new breed of “Luddite” teenagers have ditched their smart phones for the joys of embracing the analog world: paper books, real life conversation, and art.

The other weekend, basking in the sun on the rugged Atlantic shoreline and watching the surfers dance on the waves, I reflected on how we all deserve happiness. We deserve to sit in the sun and revel in the beauty of nature and human community.

But the baseline of our dominant global culture seems to want to hook us with anxiety, lack, and discontent. If people are happy and content, you can’t control them. We can’t be forced to work 60 hour weeks if we sincerely feel we have and ARE enough. If we reject the sick game of comparison that’s rigged against us. Big data can’t control us if we’re happy and secure and develop a strong sense of self that is rooted in this beautiful analog world. Neither can cult leaders.

Being happy doesn’t mean having a lifestyle or a car or a body that looks perfect on Instagram. It means living in line with our values. And listening to our inner wisdom, including the parts of ourselves that are too gnarly and unruly to share on social media.

True joy is not about “positive thinking.” I believe that “negative” emotions can be great teachers. When I feel resentment welling up, I become aware of where I’m bleeding vital energy and undermining myself. When I experience grief, it’s a sign that some cycle has reached its natural end and I need to let go and make space for the new.

And when I feel sick of social media, it’s an invitation for me to step away and embrace this beautiful, complicated world.

Oh do you have time
to linger
for just a little while
out of your busy
and very important day
for the goldfinches
that have gathered
in a field of thistles
for a musical battle,
to see who can sing
the highest note,
or the lowest,
or the most expressive of mirth,
or the most tender?
Their strong, blunt beaks
drink the air
as they strive
not for your sake
and not for mine
and not for the sake of winning
but for sheer delight and gratitude –
believe us, they say,
it is a serious thing
just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in the broken world.
I beg of you,
do not walk by
without pausing
to attend to this
rather ridiculous performance.
It could mean something.
It could mean everything.
It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote:
You must change your life.

Mary Oliver, “Invitation,” A Thousand Mornings (New York: Penguin Books, 2013).

Mary Sharratt is committed to telling women’s stories. Please check out her acclaimed novel Illuminations, drawn from the dramatic life of Hildegard von Bingen, and her new novel Revelationsabout the mystical pilgrim Margery Kempe and her friendship with Julian of Norwich. Visit her website.

Author: Mary Sharratt

Mary Sharratt is on a mission to write women back into history and is the author of eight acclaimed novels, including ILLUMINATIONS, drawn from the life of Hildegard von Bingen, and REVELATIONS, which delves into the intersecting lives of Margery Kempe and Julian of Norwich, two mystics and female literary pioneers who changed history. Visit her website: www.marysharratt.com

24 thoughts on “Happiness is Analog by Mary Sharratt”

  1. Dear Mary, thanks for this! Twitter banned me years ago & I celebrated because, wonder of wonders, I got my life back! After some months, I went back on Twitter, but then reclaimed my own time & quit again.
    It’s astounding how many hours can be wasted on “social media”. All your criticisms of it are on point. There’s a fiction that on social media we are “participating” in broader conversations and currents, but that’s true in a very limited sense and at the cost of our own personal lives.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks so much for reading. I heard that Twitter banned a lot of women for spurious reasons while allowing toxic fake news and misogyny to flourish. May we all enjoy life in real space and real time.


  3. How ironic that just above the “Likes” is a whole row of social media buttons.
    I am beginning a new venue for promoting women’s writing. Thank you for nudging me in the right direction. I think Substack is going to be it, for I too get so depressed with the 10 second perfection snaps on most platforms.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Mary,
        I never used FB until I lived in NM and had some kind of art community – we shared photos mostly. Every morning when I walked to the river before dawn I returned as the sun rose and took photos and posted them. Most folks aren’t river watching…. When I returned to Maine I decided to continue – I love to share ordinary photos – not spectacular ones and I noticed that these little postings had become a way to share the beauty of nature with others….so early each pre -dawn I look through my photos and share tidbits about what I might be seeing like the rock tripe – a lichen I found yesterday….this offering to others is appreciated by a few, not many, but behind the intention to share is the hope that I will open someone’s eyes to the ordinary wonders in our backyards…. Other than checking for comments once in a while I don’t use social media – never heard of the site you mentioned – oh yes, and in the summer I belong to moss, mushroom and wild bird groups – very handy when one is trying to check on what people might be seeing in your areas…and to 2 forest conservation groups…. So far my little experience has been quite positive and if I am feeling cranky just writing about what I saw the day before reminds me to be grateful….

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I think this is the most positive use of FB. I have a friend locally in the Bay Area who is an expert photographer and nature lover and she daily posts the most exquisite photos of vistas and wildlife around here. It is always the best thing on FB. As you say, it is a service to the community because not everyone is able to get out all the time as she does and she is sharing all this beauty with us.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Thank you and yes I never planned this, it just sort of evolved and now I have an editor that would like to publish a year’s worth of these little meditations and pictures…. You never know

            Liked by 3 people

  4. Hey Mary! I could not agree with you more. Every time I log onto Facebook I get the feeling I’ve just been invited to a party where the wine is nonalcoholic and the finger food is glue close free. Yet I will offer you a caveat: we all want to get our two cents in, and sadly, that’s about what it’s worth. If insipidity were a deadly virus most of the U.S.A. would be ghost towns. I’m an old dude, and what I’ve learned after close to seventy years is that most people suffer from an unrealized desire for self-worth. So that’s what Facebook offers us. A place where lonely people who are frustrated by their creative limitations can feel some kind of value. So I try to reserve judgement, as Nick Caraway’s father so aptly proposed. Even the best of us are lonely children at the depths of our cranky souls…
    Keep up the good work!
    the gloomy boomer. com

    Liked by 1 person

  5. OMG! I love this piece.
    “It’s designed to create a sense of anxiety, comparison, envy, and lack as we compare our rough edges with the carefully curated images of other people’s lives.” I always knew that engaging with FB rarely made me feel joy and contentment, cute kitty videos not withstanding. Now I understand why. I’ve mostly been off FB for a couple of years and don’t really miss it. I’ve been on a quest to seek joy and it’s much easier to find if don’t engage with the “dominant global culture seems to want to hook us with anxiety, lack, and discontent.”

    Here’s to joy, contentment and the analog world!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I share your thoughts on social media – I hate it. Fakebook (i like that name) is all about Zuckerberg’s need to make more and more and more money and corral people into the facebook universe. I got onto Fakebook in 2009 to share and promote my art. It worked those first few years. But little did I know that it was all an evil plan to addict everyone and try to control our thoughts and purchasing power. Now it’s all about blocking your posts unless you pay to advertise. And forget about putting a link to somewhere else – then your reach will be somewhere between 5 – 20 people as that takes them away from Zuckerbeg’s precious metaverse. Last month when I posted on FB about my blog post on FAR I didn’t put in the url as no one would have seen it. I wrote it out to visit the Feminism and Religion blog to find my post.

    And then there’s all the hate and division being promoted by these autocratic, white, male technocrats. I do not spend any money advertising on fakebook anymore – will probably get off of it completely someday.

    I didn’t realize that teenagers are embracing the analog world – such great news!

    Our own Caryn MacGrandle, created the Divine Feminine App which I have been very lax in learning how to use. I think the time has come to become active there. Thanks for ending your essay by bringing us back to the beautiful, physical world with Mary Oliver’s poem.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Judith, for these excellent and highly informative observations. I joined it also to promote my writing and now writers and other creatives are expected to pay to play, just to line the pockets of Big Tech. No thanks.

      I did not know about the Divine Feminine App!!! This is something I must investigate. Thank you so much for bringing this to my attention.


  7. Thank you so much for sharing this post! You’ve captured so many of my thoughts. Comparison is the thief of happiness. Social media has caused us to forget how to be happy outside of the context of others, to truly discern what brings us joy and positioning that front and center in our lives. When we put down our phones, we truly start living our lives!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I loved your post about social media! I thought I was the only one that felt this way about Facebook. Once I realized how it was affecting me, I decided to limit my time on Facebook and use it only on certain days. Little by little I’ve been able to get rid of the urge to use it. As a writer, I don’t find that Facebook has the kind of audience that I’m looking for or who is interested in reading and writing; its audience is made up of people who like to gossip, show off, and who don’t know how to use critical thinking. Thank you for the other platforms you shared like Substack, I will definitely check it out.

    Liked by 1 person

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