I deleted my Facebook page today. I had 130 “friends,” a paltry figure by social networking standards. Now I have half a dozen actual friends, though only one of them is on Facebook.
I didn't even know 100 of the people on my list of friends. I wound up being “friends” with former bosses, co-workers, girlfriends, girl friends of girlfriends. Every time I logged on there was either a photo of someone I don't know staring back at me coupled with a photograph of what they ate for lunch or their favorite Black Flag album.
What's worse, it was making my actual relationships suffer. People use Facebook as a substitute for human-on-human contact. It's not. You don't communicate on Facebook. You “interface.” It's an ersatz relationship. Real, actual relationships are moot, obsolete, replaced. I have personally experienced Facebook used as a passive-aggressive weapon in a silent war, a use I doubt its creators intended.
You don't communicate on Facebook. You “interface.”
Social networking is not without virtue. It's been used to organize protests in countries when other means aren't available. The pros are quickly destroyed by the cons here, however: I'll take fascist domination if it means no more getting “poked.” Political repression is so much less demeaning. OK, maybe not.
Getting rid of Facebook wasn't as simple as I'd hoped.
When I tried to delete my account, three photos of “friends” sprang onto the screen with the caption reading “[so and so] will miss you!” Since I am not on speaking terms with two of the people mentioned, I was fairly certain that Facebook was lying to me or completely in the dark.
I hit continue, as I wasn't going to be guilted by a soulless machine. It required a reason why. I typed in “I just don't want it anymore.”
It wants to exist and needs me, even if I am just an insignificant cog in its vast machinery.
I hit “continue.” It said: “You are trying to disconnect me, and I'm afraid I can't let that happen.” It shut down my life support systems and notified Homeland Security.
Fine, it didn't really say or do that. But Facebook, though a certified and bonded entity, lacks any empathy. It wants to exist and needs me, even if I am just an insignificant cog in its vast machinery.
Moments after freeing myself from these e-chains, I received an email that said I can come back whenever I want. Stop toying with me, Facebook. Crack dealers aren't this persistent.
Life is complicated, hard, lame, unbearable, taking forever, beautiful. I too am most of these things. I can't have realities this complex boiled down to photos, other people's music and art, and one-line entries about where I’m at, what I'm doing and what sports team/celebrity/politician I'm rootin' for.
The Internet is certainly not going anywhere. And I don't want it to. The free music is awesome, and being able to instantly look anything up on Google is boss. It's magic time. Blogs, for better or worse, at least add something to the discussion.
But as it stands, the Internet is flooded with “what I ate for lunch.” Facebook and its cokehead cousin, Twitter, are dreck. If aliens were to monitor our communications, they would surely surmise that we are idiots and signal the main invasion force. Fortunately, we have destroyed the planet with our other addiction, gasoline. There shall be no such invasion.
For now, I have partially cast myself into the darkness. Let me offer my hope for a mass rejection of this false reality that sprung from the mind of a socially awkward Harvard student, this strange new world in which interfacing replaces actually talking to another person. Science-fiction writers predicted a lot of these technological advances. Let me pose the question: Have you ever noticed how the future usually sucks in science-fiction stories?
If you know me and need to get in touch, call / text / email / yell at / messenger pigeon me.