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Sunday, June 7, 2020

Satirical Semite: Virtual Insanity

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I love L.A. We have sun, sea and 24-hour traffic jams that offer slow scenic drives through the city and mountains, day and night. When I miss the gray skies of England, there is an easy solution: Go on Facebook, compare myself with more successful friends, and create an emotional storm of dark clouds. It is free and does not require air miles.

If you feel left out of the 13 percent of Americans taking antidepressants, social media helps you join the club. Why have self-worth and feel good with high self-esteem when you can begin each day with high anxiety like a good Jew? 

The clever thing about this addiction is that most people cannot see it. Adam Alter’s book, “Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked,” charts how social media companies hire psychologists who specialize in addiction so they can reverse-engineer things and get us hooked. Their parents must be proud. “My son the doctor created 2 million addicts!” 

Our dopamine receptors spike when we get approval from a total stranger who presses “Like.” Unlike proper recreational narcotics, this high only lasts a few seconds. At least a good cocaine rush lasts for a few hours. Apparently. 

Vacation photos are fabulous. A wealthy friend of mine says he won’t post family vacation photos out of sensitivity for other families who can’t afford such trips. His values are clearly antiquated in The Age of Human Dignity. What a loser.

“I was weird. I still am. That’s why I moved to Los Angeles.”

If I’m at home on a winter day and experiencing a financial squeeze while friends share tropical beach photos, there is solace in knowing they are unable to fully enjoy the moment because they are continually planning and then adding filters to their next “sunset #blessed” picture. 

One friend posted daily pregnancy photos showing everything except the conception and delivery. Clearly, nobody in the world had ever been pregnant before. It was so exciting I started lactating.

Someone I know bans online images of her children to protect their safety and allow them the freedom to choose what they will share when they are older. This backwards thinking is stuck in The Age of Respect for Your Children.

As for parents sharing vacation pictures of their children semi-naked, maybe they should receive an official thank-you from the Pedophiles of America who circulate similar photos among their sick networks. Seriously folks, stop doing this. It is dangerous. 

Last September, I wrote a song titled “Please Stop Posting Pictures of Your Kids on Facebook.” It hasn’t yet been released, so I can’t tell you what the song is about. 

To be fair, those endless first-day-of-school pictures from paparazzi parents are inspiring. They inspire me to join a lemming colony and leap off a cliff.

Perhaps we need a law firm to help photographically oppressed children sue their parents for breach of privacy. The only downside is that the money kids win will be deducted from their inheritance, but at least it will help two other oppressed groups: the IRS and litigation lawyers.

The No. 1 problem is internet bullying. Micro-aggressions appear to be part of the online zeitgeist, and the anti-bullying charity Ditch the Label reports that 70 percent of “screenagers” admit to having been abusive to somebody online. Following the suicide of Molly Richards, 14, the BBC recently reported that material about depression and suicide were found on her Instagram. The company took control and hashtags like “suicide,” “cutting” and “self-harm” now lead to helplines. Is this the world of “social” media?

I am so glad this wasn’t around when I was a teen. It was horrible enough being called names by my entire class when I was 14. They bullied me for 12 months because they thought I was weird. Thank God there was no Facebook. In retrospect, they were correct. I was weird. I still am. That’s why I moved to Los Angeles.

One question I ask before sharing something online is whether it will contribute to others, be spiritually uplifting, or if I am just seeking attention and validation? Then my dopamine addiction kicks in, I forget everything, stand in front of the Hollywood sign and take a selfie wearing my tefillin and swimsuit. #LosAngelesForever.


Marcus J Freed is a Los Angeles-based actor.

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