Whether you believe it or not, one of my best friends deactivated what was her lifeline to casually going through people’s socially networked lives piece by piece. She can no longer see how much more attractive she is than her ex-boyfriend’s new lady. She can no longer click through 197 wedding photos of some girl she was in the second grade with. She can no longer read people’s self-proclaimed ‘awesomeness’ and utter hotness . She can no longer update her status to alert her 873 friends to how much fun she is having at that very moment.
I think it may be one of the smartest moves she’s ever made- definitely smarter then some of the dudes she’s chosen to date in the past- and in some ways I envy the shit out of her.
Facebook in our day of age has become sort of an all-consuming beast. Everything has a Facebook page. Most of my friends will write on my ‘wall’ as opposed to call me in order to get in touch. At lunches, people will discuss people’s Facebook activity instead of their real activity. In fact, most of the information my friends have about other people comes directly from Facebook. “So and so broke up! Did you see the change in relationship status? Oooo, I wonder what happened.” (and other garbage like that…) I think this phenom is mainly due to two things: 1) Facebook is at it’s most bare bones state just another form of gossiping and 2) there is a level of interactivity, yet comfortable anonymity, that can be achieved with people you may not have kept interacting with.
Gossiping? Yes. People literally discuss the happenings on Facebook as if it is happening. Even when discussing actual events in an actual setting, people will generally back it up with some Facebook proof: “well, did you see her status update…?” or “he was tagged in 3 pictures getting cozy with her.” It’s like a 16 year-old Sherlock Holmes’ dream. Everything is apparently out in the cyber world; clues to be plucked, scrutinized, and used as proof. I became aware of this recently at a late Sunday lunch with two of my girlfriends, and I actually began to become self-conscious about how often I was bringing up Facebook. While we sipped mimosas and discussed a bunch of people’s business, it began to dawn on me that I had personally used Facebook as a verifying source numerous times. I began to notice it much like a person with a stutter must become self-aware that they are unable to get certain words out; I realized that I could not get certain information out without referencing the social network. And it bothered me. In fact, not only did it bother me, but it began to disgust me.
At this very same lunch, I received a private message from a friend of mine. I use friend lightly here, because our friendship is no more than banter back and forth on Facebook. In actuality, he is probably not a friend. I could not call him if I needed a favor. I could not call him if I needed advice. Simply put, I do not even think I could call him at all. However, we are in a sort of constant retort via private messages on Facebook. As I scanned over the message which casually asked me how work was going, I couldn’t help but have a second dawn in my own day; if it were not for Facebook, me and this dude would have lost touch long ago. Is that a good or bad thing? To be honest, I’m still on the fence. Sure, it’s great that there is a level of connectivity that is breaking down borders between countries and making distance an issue of the past, but the fact is, it’s not really making the distance any closer. I still wouldn’t call this guy. We’ll probably never see each other ever again, and if we do, I have a feeling our conversation would be short-lived and we’d realize once and for all why we wouldn’t have kept touch in the first place. We are still just as distant, but now we occasionally pretend that we’re not. (Oh, and I know what he ate for dinner last night. Great.)
So, Sarah deleted her Facebook. Her reasoning was that she was exhausting too much creativity on updating her status and composing witty comments to people’s mobile uploads.
And she’s right. Everyone should take a step back and ponder how much achievement they’ve wasted on getting “likes.”
This is an issue I’ve been contending with myself personally for some time now. My Facebook page is brought up almost every single time I go anywhere. Someone comes up and says they love my posts. Which is fantastic, and I appreciate it, but it’s not getting me any further in life. It’s the most useless form of achievement I’ve achieved in the whole of my life. It is not jump starting anything, only putting the brakes on other areas of my life that I could be pursuing. I could have written 20 books with the amount of words I have wasted to get a chuckle social networking.
Facebook is another form of mass media that has both pros and cons, but it seems that most are using it for the backbone to their gossip, a way to keep in touch with people they really don’t need to keep in touch with, and for little cyber pats on the back. I use mine mainly as a platform for jokes, when I could be out standing on some stage, actually using those jokes to bring about some accomplishment.
I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook, and I think this is true for most. Am I going to deactivate my Facebook account? No, I’m not ready for that yet, and at some point it is going to serve a purpose in shamelessly promoting myself. Should I delete my Facebook account? Probably. So I did the next best thing. I deleted it off of my iPhone… which has drastically cut down my time spent on it. I no longer literally carry Facebook in my pocket, which has proved to me how little I actually need it. Once I leave the house now, I don’t even think about it.
I do not think Facebook is a bad thing, necessarily. To be honest, there are some people that I am able to still keep in touch with that I would otherwise have lost touch with. People that share common interests or add something to my life in a positive way. There is wealth in being able to share opinions, ideas, news, and the like so quickly and efficiently. However, I implore people to be weary of how much time they waste logging in, as opposed to actually creating, and do your best to remember, it’s not actually real life.
I keep Sarah filled in on what is happening in the cyber network world, and typically I have decided that nothing all that interesting is worth reporting. Matt’s drinking whiskey and bored again. Kristy and Rachel are drinking wine on a roof. Brad still hates all “fake” people. Molly updated her status with Taylor Swift lyrics for the 679th time. Wayne’s relationship status went from single to in a relationship… again. Kasia and Molly are bitching about not being able to find a man again… but are still doing the same things over and over expecting different results. Blah, blah, blah. None of it is really that important.
When all is said and done, for as much as people say everything on Facebook is there forever, it is the most disposable form of forever around, because none of us need it.
(Update: Sarah has recently reactivated her Facebook account. My dream of a life lived without Facebook being an achievable goal has been crushed.)