Facebook and the Internet–Let’s Face It

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A lot of online social networking sites, Facebook and Twitter in particular, rest on the human need for connection. For letting people into your life, no matter how insignificant the post may be.  Still,   regardless of how inane the post may be, it’s still not the same as being there.  There is no intimacy or sensory experience involved.  Only reading.  There is FaceTime,  a more intimate connection than the  phone time. And why is that? FaceTime provides hearing and visual pleasure at the same time. It is because, since we were babes in arms, the face and the  sensory experiences of taste, smell, touch, and hearing come in to play for a  primal sense of intimacy we all cannot live without.

For some Facebook and Twitter users I feel there is a  kind of a loneliness in which we post our lives in hopes that others will “like” or respond in kind. In which the “Friends” validate one’s existence.  Or at least, relieve the boredom of daily life.   To some users Facebook can be like a drug–heightening a need that is never completely fulfilled, requiring more “likes”, more “friends”, more comments.  Is that why I have to set the timer to make sure I don’t spend the entire day on Internet in a virtual time suck?

In a time when even the smallest thought or feeling must be shouted out and displayed to the world, the idea of what constitutes a friend has been dramatically changed.  How can one have 1000 friends?  Don’t we mean “followers”, and even that  has a marketing or self-promoting connotation.  No wonder every business has to have a Facebook “presence”.

The Internet doesn’t actually offer any of us  a true sense of friendship–but more a  pamphleteering of events for the community.  In this sense Facebook, Twitter, blogging and other social media are phenomenal means to getting the word out about news, great and small, in an individual’s life.  Maybe reading that post will result in a phone call or even something as extraordinary as a visit. Let’s just remember that the more we rely on social media as a substitute for human connection, the more we are actually doing the opposite:  isolating ourselves from the very thing we want. Friendship still has to be cultivated the old-fashioned way and by definition, no one has one thousand friends.  I’m waiting to be the exception.  Where are my thousand true FB friends?

 

“Ruby Sparks”– A Spark of Creativity”

Ruby SparksIf you could create the partner of your dreams, would you be happy with him or her?  Would that relationship be all about you, completely one-sided, and therefore unsatisfying? What makes “Ruby Sparks” so funny, but also harsh and uncomfortable, are answers to those questions given throughout this quirky film. Written by and starring Zoe Kazan as well as the exceptional Paul Dano (also in “Prisoners”, see last week’s movie review), “Ruby Sparks” is directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (of “Little Miss Sunshine” fame).

Calvin (Paul Dano) is a young novelist  whose reputation ranks just below that of “The Catcher in the Rye.”  Now, a decade later, he is  struggling with both writer’s block and a void in his romantic life.  Like all writers of fiction who have strong feelings for the characters they write about, as well as an ability to make the character real and worth being interesting, Calvin creates the character of Ruby (Zoe Kazan), his ideal girlfriend, and soon she is no longer a figment of his imagination but created in the flesh, sitting in his apartment.  Each time he writes about Ruby, the embodied Ruby has those attributes and behavior, including fluency in French.

The transitions in both Calvin and Ruby’s characters are expertly handled. Mr. Dano’s Calvin combines Woody Allen’s schlemiel and intellect.  But as Calvin’s manipulative experiments continue, the film abruptly turns down a dark road:  Ruby becomes alternatively manic, needy, independent, masochistically submissive and depressed.

The games reach a feverish pitch when Ruby watches Calvin sitting at his desk, frantically typing instructions about her, which she tries to resist but can’t.   Although he is either the Professor to Pygmalion or Geppetto to Pinocchio, Dano’s interpretation of Calvin results in a compelling and riveting performance.  He is as much a neurotic, self-absorbed victim as his fictive creation, Ruby, is.  The difference is that he is also incredibly amoral and capable of inflicting severe humiliation on Ruby.

“Ruby Sparks” (2012) cannot be easily categorized as comedy or drama, nor is it a rom-com although critics have called this unique movie all of the above.  It is, first and foremost, a film about creativity.   As in another brilliant movie, “Stranger than Fiction”  (2006) (starring Emma Thompson and Will Farrell), the writer of a novel is consumed by the characters he or she creates and they do take on a life of their own.  My novel, “Unhealed Wound”, will soon have a life of its own too.  I’ll keep you posted as the manuscript goes through its final polishing.