a cork board

My Rant on Facebook
AMpTue, 03 Jul 2012 11:52:14 +000052Tuesday 1, 2010, 11:52 am
Filed under: the ether, the mirror | Tags: ,

About 8 or 9 years ago I caught wind of a groundbreaking website called Friendster. It was a place where you can create a profile of yourself and connect with friends from around the world and share pictures and other cool stuff. It was called social networking and it was brand new. Not too long after that there was this new “revolutionary” site called MySpace that was setting new trends and was a place where, not only everyday people like us, but also musicians and bands would go to mingle. It was the social network that everyone was on and it was fully customizable and very, very cool. Then shortly after that, came Facebook. I first heard about Facebook nearly 6 years ago. My stance was that I was already on 2 social network sites (Friendster & MySpace) so there was no need for another one. But, like most of the world, I thought I’d give Facebook a try and signed up just about 5 years ago. The rest, as they say, is history.

Here we are today and Facebook is an integral part of our everyday lives. The founder of Facebook has turned into a billionaire and a cultural icon and already has his very own biopic to bolster his legacy. You can find Facebook on our smart phones, our home screens, our classrooms and in every corner of our lives. I have my Facebook application and I check it at least 10 times a day (probably way more). Facebook has replaced the need for real face-to-face encounters, e-mailing and calling in general. I’m going to sound like an old fashioned dude here, but I remember when we actually called people for their birthday, when we called people to invite them out or say what’s up. I used to e-mail people regularly to communicate with them. And if something happened in my life, it had to wait to travel by natural communication or until I, myself, told you about it (I know, I know…there was a time when emailing didn’t exist). Thanks to Facebook this is not the case anymore. We can write on our best friend’s wall and say “HBD!!” and other non-personal things. Now, I could turn this post into a huge diatribe about how self-centered and absorbed we have become as a society but I won’t. I’m going to try my best and focus on Facebook.

We have become so reliant on Facebook it’s annoying. Using it as a tool to communicate and stay in touch with family that is overseas or out-of-town is great. Sharing moments of your life on Facebook is wonderful too. And as an artist or a business owner, it is a priceless tool. All of these things are fantastic and make Facebook truly unique. But we have to remember that Facebook is a website. It’s a social network. It’s a database of ALL of our extremely personal information that we are naive enough to think is private (there is a reason we don’t share pictures of our son on Facebook).

The reason I’m writing this is because I deactivated my Facebook account two weeks ago. I know it’s going to be temporary. I know I’m going to come back. As a writer, an artist, a poet and a family man I have to be on Facebook (see all of my reasons above). But when did Facebook replace a phone call? My wife signs into her Facebook maybe once a week and she refuses to install the Facebook app on her new smart phone. When did Facebook become a mandatory social construct? I use Facebook to keep in touch with people and to network as an artist. For the most part my activity on Facebook is pretty frivolous. I scroll through my newsfeed and comments on statuses, pictures and links. I share my own insight on myself and life through my status. I share pictures on my phone and post links to events that I’m a part of and I just loosely use it. That’s how it has been over the years. But now, people take your use of the site personal.

I’m not trying to claim that I’m important because of my Friend Count, I have almost 800 friends on Facebook. Half of the people on my Friends list I have met once, and some of them I have never met at all. If I perform at a poetry event and someone in the audience hears my work and is touched by my words, they find me on Facebook. If someone buys my books, they find me on Facebook. There are poets that are on my friends list that I have never met but I have heard of, so I add them. There are people on there that I just don’t know that well, but we connected on a certain level through one form of artwork or another. I use Facebook to stay connected, not as a primary mode of contact with my close friends. Especially if those friends have my cell number, email or home phone (all things that I have made unavailable via Facebook).

So when a family member or dear friend of mine gets upset because I don’t respond to something on Facebook in a timely manner, it annoys the shit out of me. It has happened a few times over the few years, enough to make me deactivate my account because I just can’t be bothered. I’ve reached out to people on Facebook and not gotten a response and was a little upset about it. But then I stop and think about life and staying connected. I don’t need Facebook to stay connected with the ones that matter. You all have my phone number, and if not then you know where to find it. If you log into Facebook and have hundreds of friends and don’t feel like spending 2hours online responding to EVERYONE, then I have to appreciate that. And if you log in the next time and your newsfeed has grown to where my message falls below the radar, that doesn’t mean I am any less important. As a matter of fact, if I was to feel that way then maybe there is something wrong with me. Maybe I am thinking that your world should revolve around me, when it should never do such a thing. Maybe I need to just calm the fuck down and pick up the phone or send you an email. Or maybe I should just appreciate the fact that maybe that person has a lot going on with their life at the moment.

This last two weeks that I have taken off of Facebook has been liberating. At first, I would watch a YouTube video or read something online and think, man I would love to share this on Facebook!, but that has started to fade. I miss updating my status sometimes. I miss being so damn public sometimes. I know I’m going to reactivate soon, but I am in NO hurry to do it. My life has not changed. It has stayed pretty much the same, but I am no longer checking my Facebook at every single waking opportunity. I don’t know what’s going on with everyone, but that’s okay. What I need to know, I will find out. It felt good to uninstall the Facebook application on my phone too. I just think we need to remember that Facebook in not the be-all and end-all of friendships or communication. If someone does not respond to your status, it does NOT mean that don’t care about you. It just means that they missed it by not logging on 20 times a day. Use Facebook as a means for sharing your life and your thoughts and for staying in touch with friends, but let’s stop taking it so personal shall we? After all, it’s a website. It is not our lives.

“The center of the universe cannot exist, when there are no edges.”

Marilyn Manson



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