Saturday, November 10, 2012

My Personal Facebook Exodus


Three days ago, I decided I was going to go cold turkey and rid my life of the most obvious, useless addiction that I've permitted my soul to acquire:

Facebook.

The allure of the website is genuinely appealing.  Keep in touch with friends scattered around the globe.  In turn, let them know what you're up to.  Share digital laughs, digitally commiserate, and digitally affirm one's opinion, all with the click of a "like" button.

These are exactly the reasons why I'm leaving.  Well, that and it's a soul-suck of my time and emotions.

Of course, the same could be said of the internet in general.  However, Facebook's effect on 21st century society is even more damaging than being able to access information at the click of a button.  The internet is, at its purest form, essentially a faster version of the library (which is NOT to say it's superior to said library).  Facebook similarly presents itself as a consolidated version of friendship and connection - even faster than picking up the telephone, much faster than driving to another's house, and certainly light years faster than sending a letter by snail mail.  After all, who has time for such antiquated notions in this busy time in history?

Facebook is obviously NOT a substitute for true friendship, even though countless people (myself especially) have used it as such.

My recent denial of Facebook is a reconciliation with the (I can't believe I'm typing this) old way of doing things.

Real friendship requires time, effort, and actual proximity.  Facebook can certainly augment these, but in my experience, it supplants them with ego-driven status updates, ego-driven "like" counts, and ego-driven highlight-reel pictures that supposedly represent one's life in a nutshell.  Furthermore, real friendship, being difficult to maintain, tends to limit one's friendship microcosm.  Facebook seeks to unnaturally expand it, forgetting all the while the adage, "Quality, not quantity."

My exodus from Facebook is not a judgment on those that choose to remain, but is rather a personal necessity.

In the first 24 hours of my account deactivation (which will become a permanent deletion on Thanksgiving, appropriately enough), I felt a mixture of freedom and euphoria.

I ACTUALLY DID IT.

My real life Facebook friends came to me in person that very next day to comment that:

     1) they wish they could do the same thing ("Why can't you?" I wonder to myself...),
     2) they suspected I'll be back ("Hell no, I won't go!"), or
     3) it's a shame I won't be able to keep up with you as much any more ("Um, you're standing right here in front of me!").

In the subsequent 48 hours, I caught myself reaching to type the letter "F" in Google Chrome, only to realize, "Oh, right..."

To quote Ewan McGregor's drug-addled character in Trainspotting, "I JUST NEED ONE MORE HIT!!!"

I had became consciously aware of how much time I had freed up simply by not being able to log in to Facebook.  I had also became embarrassingly aware of how I needed to reprogram myself in order to spend that free time wisely, without gravitating towards other online mediums (helloooooo Blogspot!).

In the last 72 hours, I've been more focused on my work as a teacher (as I damn well should be).  I've resumed reading my 1,000 page novel that I keep putting off (I've been sitting around page 800 for weeks, when I could have finished it by now if not for checking Facebook for hours on end).  I've watched sports games without having to have my laptop burn my testicles just so I could post updates to every single bloody event in the game.  I've spent more quality time with my actual circle of friends, most importantly my wife.

This era's critical flaw is that we are distracted as a global culture.  We carry phones in our pockets that we use to do everything BUT speak.  We have 900 channels on our TVs.  We have damnable sites like Twitter and Facebook with their unstoppable surge of "data," like an egotistical stock ticker.

In closing, I quote Henry David Thoreau, who said it best:

"Our life is frittered away by detail.  Simplify, simplify, simplify!  I say, let your affairs be as two or three, not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail."

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