The Need to Associate and the Self-Destruction of “More”

Flappy Bird has become a big part of the news this past month. For those of you who don’t know, Flappy Bird was a game on iOS and Android that involved a bird that flapped its wings every time you tapped the screen. The object of the game was to flap carefully through a series of pipes that ran from above and below the screen. The game didn’t end and it was incredibly difficult. The game came out last May, but it did not gain recognition until recently when it absolutely exploded in popularity.

Soon after, however, the developer killed the game. The link above states that he couldn’t take it anymore in a Tweet. Consequently, people have been selling their phones on eBay for massively inflated prices, claiming that they have Flappy Bird installed on it. Now, I’m pretty sure that these people are creating fake bids in order to make it seem like this game is worth that much, but it still raises the question of how this game became such a fad. Why did such a simple game get so blown out of proportion?

Society has this need to associate with one another. Flappy Bird is a prime example of that. As someone who enjoys a well-created, resourced video game, I couldn’t understand why this game was considered to be so fun. There was hardly any interaction, the game acts as an infinite loop, and the graphics were nothing to be amazed about. It was extremely simple and I’m guessing that’s what the creator intended. But there is such an inherent need to associate oneself with a trend that it becomes a “thing.” All of a sudden, people are competing to be the best at something that really isn’t a big deal in the long run. What happened to the Harlem Shake or Friday or Gangnam Style? They all pass and people leave them behind. It’s this idea that people can be a part of something and even surpass another person’s achievements, in the case of Flappy Bird, that makes a fad, well, a fad.

That’s not to say that that’s always a bad thing. I am a regular user of Reddit and I see all sorts of acts of kindness and support on that site. In fact there is even a subreddit for that very purpose! I think that is amazing and fun to see. However, it can also be neglectful. We often forget things like Haiti or the nuclear meltdown in Japan, simply because they’re not on the spotlight anymore. But these countries are definitely still hurting. I’m guilty of forgetting as well. I think this is a conversation for another time, though.

Here is some food for thought.

Could this yearning of associating oneself with the most current fads have something to do with loneliness? I keep going back to this Flappy Bird example, but it’s the easiest way to describe my point. My Facebook feed was filled with posts about Flappy Bird at some point. I gave it a try because I was curious as to what the hype was all about. I thought it was pretty pointless, so I deleted it. However, there was still this small, unsettling feeling in the back of my mind that made me want to be a part of it all. I wanted to be able to get a score of 150 and proclaim, “Take that, world! I’m better than you,” and triumphantly gloat my achievements, taking 10 screenshots with my phone. There was this yearning for more, to be better. But I knew this would just lead me to angry hair-pulling so I pushed it off and went about my life.

I could see, though, the destruction that this could potentially cause for people. This isn’t just about Flappy Bird. This self-destruction goes so far beyond that and can apply to any situation. Social networking isn’t helping that either. In fact, it could quite possibly be the core of this growth in the need to associate.

I was having a meal-time conversation with my girlfriend and we were talking about social networks and the problems that they can potentially cause. You might think that you’re better connected with your friends, but are you really? It’s really quite scary. You can say that you have over 1,000 friends on Facebook, but you can still feel lonely. It’s a really empty feeling.

A typical Facebook feed is going to consist of all sorts of events that people want to share about their lives: A friend just got engaged! Amazing! That girl just came back from Europe and uploaded the most beautiful photos! Wow! I just ate at the most fantastic restaurant! I have the best life in the world!

This makes you very excited for that person, but it also leaves you with a yearning for that same experience. Because we are constantly exposed to our friends adventuring through the extravagant lives that they have, it makes you assume that they live much better lives than you. You can’t help it: I want a woman that I can marry someday too. I want to visit Europe and all of its beautiful sights too. I want to eat at 5-star restaurants too.

But all of it’s just not true! We only post on Facebook what we want to share with the world. We want to share these precious moments that we wish to cherish and gloat to our friends. No one is going to share the day that he/she laid on the couch and surfed the Internet all day. It’s just the nature of social networking.

We have to get out of this social vortex of “more,” because social networking is a facade for making one’s life look better than it really is. Just be yourself. Don’t feel the need to get hooked into something you don’t want to just because the entire world is doing it. Know what you like and dislike and live your life based on that. Because, in the end, that’s what generates happiness, not a “like.”

That video at the top pretty much summarizes what I just said in fancy graphics. Take a look.

You can check out the settings I used here.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

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