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Friday
Jul222011

Killing the Facebook - A Welcome Disconnection

On Thursday night, I made a pre-meditated, well-planned and spontaneous decision to deactivate my Facebook. Ignoring it wasn't enough. I wanted it dead.

When one decides to shut down Facebook, the cybernetic entity controlling its blue and white projection tries to guilt you into staying. It feebly attempts to convince you its privacy violations are ingenuous, the premise behind it is half-way useful and even resorts to emotional blackmail, insistent that certain real life friends will miss your cyberpresence. Despite the electronic pleading and bureaucracy it entangles you in (are you really, truly sure? Enter your Tax File Number and mother's father's aunt's maiden name to continue.) I pulled the plug.

Let me tell you, what a relief.

The last year and a half, I've experienced overwhelming, world-view shifting changes. Some are physical - I feel stronger and fitter. Others are mental - I know more that I did last year. A lot of them are intangible, yet bound up with my very being. Facebook does a disservice to our being. It labels it, it regulates it and alters our perception of it. It's not a window into our being. It's a map of it that's barely accurate at the best of times.

Prior to the advent of social media and my own return from the brink of oblivion, I almost wished I could use some kind of benign platform to convince myself that my friends were routinely ignoring me or were acting like sinister villains behind my back. My mind with paranoia's snakes coiled tight around it was convinced - convinced! - that these smiles masked a cruel intent.

Maybe they did. More rationally and overall, likely, they most probably didn't. Sure, by the time I'd reached the end of my tether with this colloquial monstrosity, I'd noticed a pattern had emerged when I'd made a post. Only about 10 or 15 "friends" seemed even remotely interested in what I'd had to say. Sure, I'd made some new contacts along the way but I'd also made some "indifferents." I was "hidden" from view by everyone else - or so it seemed.

But then I figured that my fatigue with Facebook stemmed from viewing an overabundance of useless and intellectually void information about people I barely knew. Yet, the otherness lay in myself: I made little to no effort to get to know the people - the real people behind the "book" obscuring their "faces" - and at that instant, there was clarity as I emerged from beyond the murk: I was out of integrity with my use of Facebook. It was all bullshit, man.

The last year I've made many lasting friendships. Brotherhoods indissoluble, loves everlasting. But they weren't made over Facebook. They were forged as sunlight beat down on our faces, as tears streaked down our cheeks, as frost billowed through the cadence of our breaths. Friends are made and re-made over cheap meals and cheaper laughs in second-rate cafes. Facebook, the great concealer of real, open and visceral humanity didn't let seeds of camaraderie take root and flourish; it kept them in stasis until someone decided to let it expire.

So I got rid of it. I was bullshitting myself if I chose to keep my interactive dossier of half-truths up and running. I'm not even remotely concerned that it's a great "tool" for promoting my journalism work or services as a consultant. I get enough rejection e-mails from editors and managers in my good old fashioned email inbox, thank you very much.

My once enthusiastic adoration for Twitter has all but evaporated too. The only "social medium" (although that's a contestable term) I'm rather enjoying is Tumblr - it's like running one's own pop-culture museum. There's a certain joy in stealing from others' small collections and discoveries to curate in one's own permanent exhibition. It's superficial, that's a given. But it's artifice does not purport to foster "friendships" in the physical sense. Online community, yes. "A place for your friends," not so much.

Will I miss it? I'm not suffering from any measure of withdrawal. But like the aims of my (numerous) social media moratoriums, the payoff is in rising to challenge of relying on it no longer. If I want to know what's going on with my social circles, I'll have to talk to someone and engage in a real conversation to find out. If I'm forgotten by fair-weather friends, then so what? I know who my brothers and sisters are on this magnificent journey. I'll love and support them as long as I'm able. In kind, they will support me, too.

So I give praise to Facebook precisely as I bury it (with the cumulative personal information I've fed it over the years clutched firmly in its cold, dead hands.) You've opened my eyes to see where my real friends truly are.

Reader Comments (3)

Interesting.

Sun, July 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBruce I. Kodish

Great post. I can totally relate - and have considered taking myself off those overly addictive sites myself. Back to the old days, where real life meant a whole lot more, and where people looked up, and enjoyed the world that surrounds us, rather than looking down - always down, into their hands.

Tue, July 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Thanks...and very well said!

Wed, July 18, 2012 | Registered CommenterTom Valcanis

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