The Best Reason To Quit Facebook
When I first joined it in 2009, it was like an invitation to a free, giant party with all sorts of friends I knew from different circles and brand new bright friends as a bonus. It was early enough in the party such that one could have private conversations with a few people without having to yell over the party’s din. It was a really exciting time. As opposed to Friendster or Myspace, Facebook felt like “The Real Deal” as far as a utopia of virtual friend connections. Despite being in my late 30s at the time, I was naive enough to let the euphoria lead me too far inside.
I left Facebook the other day (i.e. deactivated, not deleted) because it felt like the morning after that geological micro-era. I had become an addict. I know this because shortly after I left, my brain was still heading over to the browser itching to check out Facebook like it had become a reflex.
I was no longer surprised to find out other people had the same relatively obscure tastes in music and art as I did. That natural joy of meeting such people randomly in real life was now gone.
I was tired of being a cheerleader and sympathizer to everybody equally: whether it was my closest friend, or someone whom I never actually met but had a few good comical comments with, that one day. I had become exhausted.
The primary reason I left Facebook is because I was tired of donating so much of my thoughts and creativity to what is basically a cult — except this cult is one in which barely anyone realizes they play a part. All of that energy could have been invested in myself instead. At the time, however, the impulse to share those thoughts, or nuggets of wisdom, or creativity was more important than me, in essence, because I had become addicted to the immediate reaction of my friends.
Except they’re not really reactions as much as simple reflexes. In a similar way that the writer of “LMFAO” is rarely actually Laughing One’s Fucking Ass Off at the time, a thread of “OMG“‘s or “!!!!!“‘s is rarely a stream of earnest surprise or cheer.
It’s healthier to hear information through a filter, really. It’s more natural. Social media is great to getting out potentially unfiltered news quickly — long before any major media reports on it, if they choose to report it. (Ferguson, Missouri on Twitter is a good example of this.) Otherwise, I don’t think humans are meant to deal with it naturally. The 2014 Israel/Palestine conflict is a good example of something that the Internet is terrible at arbitrating on its own. The truth is: almost everything fits in the latter category.
I recognize my naivety of the above. Nothing I’m saying is intended to be shocking or a revelation. And I’m aware of the irony of posting this on yet another social media site.
On a final note, there is nothing wrong with the Internet on its own — at least yet anyway. We’ve just happened to arrive at at time when major corporations have figured out how to twist and manipulate the Internet as a media source just as they have to done to TV for decades. And if the phrase “Kill Your Television” is open to interpretation beyond TV, why not the corporate-run Internet?
1) Mackro is one of my closest friends. I take anything he addresses seriously equally seriously by default.
2) I’m quite content with Facebook still as outlet for information that crosses my threshold/discussion and debate/a way to share out links to my latest work as it’s published (at which it succeeds far more than Tumblr does, speaking frankly; that Tumblr still comes across as a confusing, problematic interface reads less a problem on those who might not be ‘native’ to it and more a bug that’s a design feature at base), but
3) I speak of Facebook in the previous point as relative ideal rather than reality. The current debate over the forced name change being applied to drag performers — and to my mind, there IS no debate, it is simply a foolish decision on the part of FB — illustrates that. It might be a breaking point, emphasis ‘might.’
4) A ‘better’ Facebook might emerge. A better something else might always emerge. But doesn’t Mackro’s point here somewhat suggest a possibility that may be inescapable — that when something reaches a big enough/large enough point all that one hope to have either escaped from or avoided is inevitably reintroduced or adapted to?
5) This doesn’t mean more can’t and shouldn’t be done. It does mean, however, that multiplicities remain helpful. One core central point remains a bad idea. But too many different points become too many to maintain, depending on the person. I have no interest in Instagram at all; I do not communicate primarily via photos with captions as a hook. Pinterest, eh. Diaspora, a potential ‘new/better’ Facebook, is something I have yet to fully be convinced of; I remain open to the idea while disconcerted at the idea of Yet Another Network at all. And so forth.
6) I have always liked riding waves of knowledge and information as much as diving deep. That doesn’t speak as much to the success of what I do on both fronts, that’s merely a description of how I engage and process. It would be foolish of me, though, to assume my standard and view is the universal one. Per the observations I made (on FB!) on this piece and this one, both of which argue that a built in ‘American’ bias warps perceptions of life and death on a grand level, the dangers of projecting what works for one as working for all are evident.
7) Do what you need to do. Enjoy something only if you get enjoyment from it. Criticize it when it deserves criticizing. And don’t force yourself down a road you’ve been traveling if it just tears your feet and body up as you go to no further end.