I killed my Facebook account today. Well, but then again that's not true, is it? No, because apparently, according to Facebook personnel, my account is only deactivated. What this means is that if I were to log in at any point for the next two weeks, my account would be reinstated fully - no questions asked. However, if I can manage to wait any longer without logging in, my account will be permanently deleted - forever, along with any photos, videos, notes, etc. I uploaded to my Facebook account. So there's this 2-week gauntlet they require people to walk, which I find hilarious.
Facebook is both the dealer and the drug itself, and that's why I had to get out of their little matrix. It was actually beginning to make me feel bad about the world. Too much useless information. Too much pointlessness and crass marketing. Too much time wasted. Too much exposure to the elements of civilization I find most grating and deplorable. Too much like adolescence, in other words. And, for a social networking tool, it sure was starting to make me feel isolated.
Don't get me wrong, for a while there I enjoyed Facebook's pointlessness and the fact that it unabashedly wasted my time. But after a while, anomie killed the cat. And that old cat, well he started to feel a bit empty - probably from relating to people so superficially. And now that I'm done with The 'Book, friends have started e-mailing me again. I'm grateful for this, but it makes Facebook even creepier, as an overwhelming majority are e-mailing me to talk about Facebook in this kind of "off the record" way, explaining how they, too, would like to delete their accounts, but "I just like to stay in touch with people too much for that" or "I'm just not ready to leave yet, but one of these days..." Honestly, though, I can think of three solid, interwoven reasons (besides the fact that it's fun and convenient) why people stay on Facebook - and I know 'cause for a year and a half I was a stone cold Facebooker:
(1) Fact: Facebook is busily making itself indispensable to its proponents. By combining e-mail, IM-ing, photo & video posting, fan pages, etc., it's compressing the entire social aspect of the internet down into one mega-application. The people in the upper tiers of Facebook, Inc. make huge money off advertising based on demographic information readily offered by the folks who use it. And that's what Facebook is all about - bartering that valuable demographics info. And sure, it's convenient in many ways, but after awhile that "convenience" becomes status quo and you forget that you ever lived without it. That's because Facebook goes out of its way to stay that way. And so, they make it difficult for you to leave by becoming insidiously indispensable (like Wal-Mart, like Netflix, like the automobile).
(2) Fact: When Facebook fails to keep you in the matrix, social dynamics will step in. Weirdly, when I gently announced that I was leaving Facebook (never stating why or flaming Facebook) I got more than a few snarky comments from my "Facebook friends." But overwhelmingly I got the "don't go!" sentiment, which is kind of nice, but equally creepy. (In fact, moments ago, someone in real life just stopped me on the street to tell me they were 'going to miss me' on Facebook. No kidding. That actually just happened.) But this "don't go" sentiment expresses more than Facebook's indispensability and people's general empathy for me. It illustrates basic group dynamics - herd mentality, social pressure: "Don't go. Be one of us." This is weird, cloying, and drone behavior. Furthermore, it confirms that Facebook really is high school.
(3) Finally - duh - Facebook is addictive. Fact: Every time I logged on to Facebook, I felt like a goddamn chicken that'd been trained to peck at a tin lever. Why? In order to release those golden grains of feed, of course. In this metaphor (simile, actually), mind you, I'm the chicken, the log-in button is the lever & the feed is this endless vat of information, some of it useful & interesting, most of it not. Why is information so addictive? Because, baby, information's the new currency of the digital age. We all wanna know what's going on, from as safe and unassuming a vantage point as possible. So, yeah, voyeurism ties into it as well, and the voyeurism Facebook makes possible is an addictive drug...and as with almost every addiction, the underlying concern is death anxiety. Hence, "don't go!"
Bottom line - Facebook is free. They advertise this constantly, and they do so because they want you to always be aware that all this fun & convenience costs you absolutely nothing...which, of course, is untrue. The hidden costs are many (some of which I've detailed above) and are quickly becoming a fact of life in these modern times. So on some level, I suppose I probably have driven a lot of blames into Facebook. But really, I blame myself. Facebook feeds my un-cool tendencies because I let it, after all. So Facebook's dead to me. And I am dead to it, thank God. Well, I mean, you know, in fourteen days I will be, provided I can re-enter human society without crashing and burning from withdrawal. Hey, look at that golden grain up there, boy? Wouldn't you like to get in on that action???