Since the 1990s, a significant part of my social life has lived online. I started “It’s all about me! (the column)” in 1997 before we called websites of online essays “blogs.” I spent a great deal of time in AOL chat rooms and in the usenet newsgroups misc.writing and alt.music.soulcoughing. Several of the relationships I formed back in the late 90s, including the one with my ex-husband, have continued all these years. The relationship I have with my online-only friends are real; that’s why I don’t call offline life “real life” when I’m talking about online and offline.
A couple weeks ago, I began changing how I use social media. I’m cutting back on it. I’m not the only one, I know, who has found it a time suck. It’s a common refrain, “I’ve been Facebooking/tweeting/Instagramming way too much! I need to cut back!” I made one significant change and I’m now considering other steps to find more balance in my life.
What I can’t figure out is how to cut out Facebook. On the one hand, I’d love to simply delete. I know a few people who don’t use Facebook and they seem to be fully functioning members of society. So, why can’t I pull the trigger?
Honestly, I resent the fact that I feel my professional and personal life depend so much on Facebook that I would be affected negatively if I quit. What kind of world is it that a corporate product has that kind of power over me?
If I were to quit Facebook, I would miss my friends. I know that. I would miss the ease with which I can catch up with people all around the country, even around the world. I would miss the easy way I can stay semi-informed about pop culture, including politics. But, that’s part of why I don’t like it. It’s so easy. It’s seductively easy. Is it like Fight Club?
Tyler Durden: We’re consumers. We are by-products of a lifestyle obsession. Murder, crime, poverty, these things don’t concern me. What concerns me are celebrity magazines, television with 500 channels, some guy’s name on my underwear. Rogaine, Viagra, Olestra.
Narrator: Martha Stewart.
Tyler Durden: Fuck Martha Stewart. Martha’s polishing the brass on the Titanic. It’s all going down, man. So fuck off with your sofa units and Strinne green stripe patterns.
Is it leading us to Bladerunner? Are we becoming replicants?
Am I quoting and referencing mass media movies try and process my philosophical considerations? (Yes.)
What is keeping me beholden to Facebook? I want people to read my newspaper column. That’s one thing. It’s a neat place to share that link once a month.
Then there are the real friendships, both close and casual. When I considered deleting a month or two ago, Facebook friends reminded me they enjoy my updates about my personal life. I don’t mean to sound self-important, but it matters to me that people would miss me. That’s what kept me from deleting then.
But, ugh, I don’t like Facebook. I really don’t like it. I don’t like how it feels so necessary! I’ve seen many people do very good things with it as an organizing tool. I believe it can be used as a force of good. But, ultimately, it’s a corporate product and more than one billion people use Facebook every day. How can that kind of dependence on a single corporate product be good?
Obviously, I’m not deleting Facebook yet (though I’m sorely tempted to do it right now!). And, of course, I’ll share a link to this blog post on Facebook. (Ugh!)
Here I am using a corporate product (WordPress) to make a post on social media (my website/blog). It feels a little different, though. I remember when I first started in 1997 and I used some html and an Internet connection to write my “columns.” I used Earthlink and then AOL to get online. I don’t remember what I used to write the text and code, but it certainly wasn’t something I felt was necessary to have a fully functional adult social/political life.
I’m going to shut my computer and go watch a puppet show. Then I think I’ll do some painting. Whether or not I share about it all on Facebook later, we’ll have to wait and see.