Ok, so I’m kind of behind at this very moment. I haven’t posted a blog in almost a month, but that is not my plan for the future. I’m going to be much better about posting regularly, I swear.
ANYWAY. Something ridiculous has just happened. I PERMANENTLY DELETED my Facebook account. Ok, well actually I just did it and they won’t let you do it immediately so mine is “scheduled for deletion” 14 days from the date I hit submit. Which is actually any day now. Kind of genius, in a horrifying, diabolical way, eh? I just read somewhere that 80% of Facebook users can’t go 24hrs without checking their profiles on some sort of device, so for Facebook to make it so you have to think about it for 14 days… they probably get quite a few people who change their minds and are sucked back into the vortex. BRILLIANT. I would love to see those statistics. That’s how the permanent delete works, anyway. I believe if you just deactivate your profile, it can happen immediately. Unfortunately, most disillusioned Facebook users think that the permanent delete is a myth because the diabolical machine, that is Facebook, has buried it under links, upon links, upon links. I am here, however, to pay forward the favor that I utilized on someone else’s blog: PERMANENTLY DELETE YOUR FACEBOOK HERE (cue Vegas style lights, blinking!!!)
This is what I’m sayin’… Facebook is just a little too manipulative, a little too aware of the idiosyncrasies of people and a little too eager to exploit them. Seems like Zuckerberg banks on the reality that people feel like they need Facebook & as long as they’re not paying money for it, they’ll put up with pretty much anything to keep it. And he’s right! How many Facebook layout changes have we all complained about, threatened to leave, made groups about it, read concerning reports about the lackadaisical privacy issues etc., etc. Few, however, are leaving. No one is ready to give up the drug. The instant gratification, acceptance, and reaction that comes with submitting one’s self to the Facebook process. It is emotional heroin. My good friend, and prolific snarky writer, Vincent Scarpa, introduced the idea today, while we were pontificating on the subject, of how people have taken on this philosophy that Facebook isn’t just a social network, but a fundamental RIGHT. (Much like Life, Liberty & The Pursuit of Apple iProducts.) It is akin to water, electricity, clothes, food, etc. Why has this idea, whether or not it’s actually acknowledged by the bulk of those operating under it, taken such a hold? Because Facebook is no longer a means with which to communicate with each other, but rather the basis of our identity. It is who we are, who we want to be and how we can exert the most control over the perceived notion of ourselves.
Humans were created to need other people. Genesis says that after everything God did, during creation, he called it “good”, except for Adam. When he saw that man was alone he said that it was “not good” and he made him a companion out of his ribs, right then and there. (well, after he had him do a little homework. /OldTestamentjoke) We were made to want and need other people.
How could we possibly spend time in the Facebook world and not become enamored with the immediate approvals, “likes”, comments about whether or not you look great, whether or not you’re clever, whether or not your choice in music or politicians or clothing is acceptable to the masses, your friends, etc.?! I mean, it really is like crack. Total, socially acceptable, emotional CRACK COCAINE.
Since I’ve just recently moved about an hour or so away from my family, my friends that have become my family, and all of the comforts of living in the same place you’ve lived for the basic entirety of your life, I’ve been doing some thinking.
One of the things I started thinking about was the effect Facebook seemed to have on my life, holistically. How many times have you been at a party or a wedding or any place with other people and you take some photos and you can’t wait to get them home and immediately upload them to Facebook? Or, when you’re with someone, you want to tell the Facebook world where you are, who you’re with, and maybe even throw an inside joke in there? (I am guilty of every one of these things, no judgement.) How many times a day do you check your Facebook, from probably a plethora of devices? How many hours a day have you spent on Facebook? How many responsibilities have you shirked in favor of Facebook stalking someone you had study hall with, in high school 6 years ago (and study hall was probably the last time you actually spoke the said person)?
I’m here, in a new place, engaging in a new chapter of life, and taking a second glance at myself. I’m trying to simplify my life. I’m trying to prioritize the things that deserve priority in my life. I don’t want to be distracted anymore. I don’t want my identity relegated to the internet or, more specifically, Mark Zuckerberg’s massive server. (insert innuendo about compensation here)
Shane Hipps wrote an article for Relevant Magazine‘s Sept/Oct 2010 issue entitled What’s [Actually] On Your Mind? It’s a fascinating article in which the very first few sentences give you an idea of just how much social networking has changed things in the past decade: “If you make it to the end of this article, you are an impressive and rare breed of human –an intellectual Navy SEAL, an elite mind, trained with an ability most people just don’t have anymore: the ability to sustain concentration over long periods of time. The ability to endure a mental marathon involving the unnatural act of decoding thousands of abstract meaningless squiggly shapes, which are somehow arranged to create meaning –also known as reading.” Say it with me now, kids, “reading“. And that’s reading thoughts that are generally longer than 140 characters.
Hipps begins to talk about first impressions when, albeit accidentally, signing up for Facebook, “This was simply a remarkable technological connector. And all this without the hassle of long phone conversations complete with requisite, time-consuming social pleasantries. What a simple joy.”
This is a fundamental pillar of my dissent. Facebook has offered us freedom from any responsibility of physical, intentional interaction among “friends”, real or virtual. Freedom from doing that which should be a desire of ours, yet we’ve seemingly found freedom from the cumbersome obligations of human interaction.
As a person who has recently made a life choice that puts some considerable stress on her relationships, I have begun feeling the true weight of this reality. However, I found myself feeling oppressed by Facebook versus my actual relationships. I began to tire of the virtual rigmarole of submitting my latest and greatest thoughts/opinions/photos to the 500+ people who I really wouldn’t think twice about, lest I never see nor hear from them again. I, instead, began to yearn for the comfort and organic nature of my real relationships that I had just moved from. I started thinking, or really having nightmares about, those relationships falling victim to the “freedom” of Facebook; my two best friends, and former roommates, both so busy, one with a brand new marriage and the other with a brand new baby and me away at a brand new school. How easy would it be for us three to make excuses and trade in text messages and phone calls for “likes” and picture comments? I started to feel combative. My mind began to root itself in direct opposition of that possibility. It was all very “THIS IS SPARTA!”
Another idea that came into play, as I created a thought list of pros and cons for Facebook, I alluded to in the beginning of this post… the idea that we humans are willing and needy receptacles for approval. We are addicted to the attention; so addicted, in fact, that we pay attention to our own selves on Facebook just as much, if not more, than we pay to our friends. Hipps elaborates on the idea:
“Such exhibitionism has an unusual effect on us. We not only want others to see us, we like to see us. We are able to inspect and tweak what others are seeing about us. We become fascinated by the image we project. It’s like having a mirror on your desk or in your pocket. … This kind of regular self-inspection eventually gives rise to a subtle narcissism. …This narcissism created by these technologies is unique. it encourages not just self-absorption, but, more accurately, self-consumption. We become creators and consumers of our own brand. We become enamored by a particular kind of self, a pseudo-self. A self-image controlled in much the same way corporate brands are controlled. …Facebook is the perfect cocktail: a medium that focuses much of our attention on ourselves, while appearing to focus our attention on our relationship with others. it is a mirror masquerading as a window.”
I love the plain, indisputable imagery he uses. It is simply fact; you can’t argue with it. (Well, this is the internet, so I’m sure someone could argue with it) That’s Facebook, in a nutshell. A narcissistic tool that feeds our innermost broken pieces of ourselves; pieces that are petitioning for anyone to tell us we’re good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, strong enough, relevant enough to warrant a bit of attention. A tool masquerading as a network to cultivate and nurture relationships versus degrade and deteriorate them.
So I sat with this conflict of intrinsic interest, so to speak, for a couple of months. I turned the idea over and over again in my head, like one might do with a quarter, absent-mindedly. I talked it over with some intelligent thinking friends & it never really lost its steam. It seemed the more time passed, the more solid and relevant the idea became.
I should delete my Facebook account.
So I did. I mean, for all intents and purposes I did. I am still somewhere within that diabolical 14-day period where I am statistically (I’m assuming) supposed to lose my cojones and come crawling back to the Facebook empire, King Zuckerberg and his self aggrandizing server of identity, tail between my legs, with 4 or more hours to spare to catch up on all that I missed. Funny thing is, though, I haven’t missed a single thing.
[My good friend, and exceptionally talented writer and thinker, Dominick Baruffi, is in the midst of hashing out this very same thing. He hasn’t pushed the delete button quite yet, but he’s picking up speed on that less-traveled road. Read his thoughts, 3 Things I Learned From My Facebook Break, over at his blog.]