Quitting Facebook Will Ruin Your LifeSerge Bielanko
I don’t know why? There are no answers in life, man. There’s only riddles and speculation. And lies.
I guess maybe I was hoping to at least graze the hand of what my life used to be like back before I finally succumbed to the inevitable. I guess I just wanted to extricate myself from this worldwide car crash of epic proportions, to crawl out of the wreckage of such a seemingly pointless internet activity with a few burning shreds of my old pre-Facebook dignity still dangling off of my charred skin.
So I threw in the towel and left. Suddenly, too. No big goodbye. None of that dumb crap like: “Hey guys, I’m leaving Facebook. Soooo … I just wanted my friends to know that I will no longer be on here, and if you want to stay in touch with me you can use my email. I’ll leave this post up for a few days before I shut everything down. Thanks!”
I just split and headed for greener pastures, people. Eat my dust, you pathetic sheep.
Things were good at first, too. I deactivated the account, took Big Blue out of my Bookmarks (see, I was serious, ya’ll) and even convinced myself that this was the right thing for me to do as a father of three young children, although I could come up with no reasonable explanation to back any of that up. It just sounded good and nowadays that ought to be enough, I think.
So now what?
What do you do then, right? You’ve ‘quit’ Facebook, severed ties with the same 18 or 19 wildly random people who have infested your feed and your wall for the better part of several years now, and then suddenly you kick it all to the curb and move on out into cyber space hoping to lead a more dignified and educated existence.
Naturally, then, I found myself reading The New York Times online. I have always read it a bit, but suddenly I was reading it way more. I should have asked them to give it up for free, really. I must have been generating a bit of currency with all my clicking around in there.
And, The New York Times … that’s something, right?
I found myself scanning and even reading articles about the troubles in the Ukraine and what’s been happening lately over in war-torn Syria and I’m not going to lie, I was pretty damn proud of myself for doing it. I mean, I didn’t really retain all that much about anything, but I blame that mostly on the fact that since I work from home (modern man!) much of my live-long day is spent solely in the company of a wife and kids who seem less than electrified at the idea of a full-blown intellectual discourse with me about American foreign policy. Or anything else for that matter. Whatever.
The Times was cool, but after a few days, it ran its course as my main hangout. I just couldn’t waste the kind of time I needed to be wasting over there. Funny, that. It didn’t take me long to miss the very thing I’d been fleeing. Isn’t that typical? Anyway, I bailed on that whole ‘If You’re Not Wasting Time On Facebook, You Could Be Feeding Your Mind With Intellectual Diversions‘ school of thought. News and personal betterment and blah-blah-blah is great and all, but still. It just wasn’t the same.
Then I tried Twitter.
I’m not good at Twitter. I’m just not.
And you have to be good at Twitter if you want to even come close to slurping down the same vast oceans of time that you were doing over at Facebook. My intentions were genuine, I think. Initially, I was attracted to the prospect of having to say something in just so many words, but as with so many things that try and compete with our collective attention these days, pretty soon I got bored out of my face.
Twitter reminded me of my Haiku Days, back when I was in my early 20’s and I spent like a week fully convinced that haiku was the only way I would ever communicate my artsy-fartsy feelings again. Talk about a wrong turn in life. I can’t write haiku. I can’t even read friggin’ haiku. I like the first couple and then by the fifth one, I want to suck my own eyeballs out with a shop-vac.
Plus, I didn’t like the lack of pictures in the feed on Twitter.
Why no pictures?
There were some, but not enough.
I like pictures, I’ll admit it. In fact, I think maybe I like pictures more than I realized. You don’t think you’re ever going to miss photos of people’s sick dogs or their kids dressed up in their Little League outfits or the snow on their back decks or the stupid, idiotic crab cakes on their well-lit farm tables, because let’s face it: that stuff makes you CRAZY when you are standing there in the middle of a swamp of it.
But you do end up missing it.
Because it’s real. It’s just regular life and that is actually a good thing, a nice thing. Things were getting weird, now. I was away from Facebook just a matter of hours, all told, but I felt like a part of me had died. You can laugh at that if you want to, I don’t give a crap. I’m pathetic and I know it. But so is the rest of the world, buddy.
Pretty soon, Twitter was like a nail in my forehead. I got annoyed with having to hit a Tiny URL just to see a picture. And I kept clicking on the wrong thing, on the hashtag or whatever by mistake. I soon found myself engulfed in the flames of fury and that ain’t right, you know? I never found myself furious over on Facebook.
Okay, that’s a bold lie/yes, I did.
But at least there were pictures.
And ‘unfriending’. Let me let you in on a little secret. That power that Facebook gives you to ‘Unfriend’ another living, breathing human being. That is something rare and wonderful, man. I’m serious. Even if you have never known the hot, sexy rush that comes from cutting someone off from your graceful ways for reasons only you and you alone could ever possibly justify in the face of a court of your peers, you still should cherish the ability to do it. Because there is no where else on the internet that allows you that kind of five-second satisfaction tinged with lingering regret and shame for free. Nowhere. Trust me on that.
‘Unfriending’ is just cooler than ‘Unfollowing’, by the way.
Is ‘Unfollow’ even a real word? I doubt it.
Think about that.
Anyway, my wife once told me that Twitter was for the cool kids not for the masses. And she was probably right, too. But who cares? I don’t care.
Three days in, I was showing signs of actual depression. I missed my soapbox. I missed the same old people ‘Liking’ my idiotic posts. I imagined that they were still signed in over there, sharing and liking and re-posting and commenting and doing it all without even noticing that I was gone.
I could be dead for all they knew. No one cared. To them, whether I was strapped into the passenger seat of a small plane buried in the Pacific or off gallivanting around, looking for better things to do with my time didn’t matter at all. Life would go on.
My jaw hurt. I have no idea why. Maybe from punching myself.
Two nights ago I was back, and as I signed back into Big Blue once again, just as I spotted my first filtered iPhone picture of someone’s stupid and wonderful glistening steak with mushroom gravy, I was overcome with a kind of strange warmth, like I was peeing my pants or something. Between you and me, let’s just call that low-grade happiness and be done with it, okay?
Because no matter what anybody says, low-grade happiness is better than nothing.
More on He Said/She Said: