That love and pain stuff

I'm a little behind on this, but all of this New York Times Op-Ed based on Jonathan Franzen's commencement address to Kenyon College's Class of 2011 is worth reading. I particularly wanted to share one bit about the difference between "the world of liking" things on Facebook, and loving things and people in real life.

Franzen's speech isn't pertinent only to today's new college grads-- those supposedly super distracted kids that grew up with Facebook, texting, sexting, and all the rest. People of all generations are now tempted to spend more free time in the shiny, simple world of online social networks. We're all busy, and maintaining real life relationships can be much more hassle than keeping up with the hundreds of electronic connections we have online.

But in the end, loving someone in the flesh is much more rewarding than "liking" things online-- or really, anything else that we can do in this life.

"The simple fact of the matter is that trying to be perfectly likable is incompatible with loving relationships. Sooner or later, for example, you’re going to find yourself in a hideous, screaming fight, and you’ll hear coming out of your mouth things that you yourself don’t like at all, things that shatter your self-image as a fair, kind, cool, attractive, in-control, funny, likable person. Something realer than likability has come out in you, and suddenly you’re having an actual life.

...When you consider the alternative — an anesthetized dream of self-sufficiency, abetted by technology — pain emerges as the natural product and natural indicator of being alive in a resistant world. To go through a life painlessly is to have not lived. Even just to say to yourself, 'Oh, I’ll get to that love and pain stuff later, maybe in my 30s' is to consign yourself to 10 years of merely taking up space on the planet and burning up its resources. Of being (and I mean this in the most damning sense of the word) a consumer."

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