To start, yes. I'm on my "I really am sick of the Facebonkers" phase again. For many reasons. The main one being that this past weekend, when I was 50miles from a cell signal that was reliable and didn't have instant access to my friends' "live" (or is it their "likes"), it was a really nice time.
The irony is that some would say I was disconnected for two days. They couldn't be more wrong. In those two days I got closer to my dad that I've ever been in my life. I got closer to the land that has been in my family for nearly 200 years. I got closer to...well...me. And I did it all without a single fucking "LIKE" button or "Share This" click (sorry Jack, it seemed necessary).
And I realized something today as I was taking my daily morning constitutional. Bitching about Facebook in a Facebook post is like writing a book entitled "Man, I Really Hate Writing Books." The time and energy expended to and for the very medium you're bitching about in the first place is, well, quite simply-ridiculous.
The following is a list of the main things that bug me about the whole "social media" craze (targeting the facebonkers in particular since they have seemed to hit the magic formula and maintained market share the longest).
It's called social media, but it's not really. People get duped in to thinking that because they have friends on social media sites, that they have friends. Make a list. This list is the people that you're going to call at 2AM when shit hits the fan. It doesn't matter what the shit is. You are going to call these people and they are not going to be upset. They are going to be there for you--no matter what.
THOSE are your friends. Your true friends. Everything else is icing. Truly.
The only reason people feel compelled to be on Facebook is because we are driven that way. Companies no longer put their web addresses on their ads, they put their Facebook links. Somehow they hit the magic formula of making people think that they've always been around and businesses think that they can't succeed without a Facebook presence.
It Feeds (our sometimes sick) Need for Instant Gratification
For me what made (makes) social meda sites truly addicting is the constant need for instant feedback. How may people think I'm witty, funny, whatever. The true irony (as though this post isn't already fraught with irony and near hypocrisy) is that I'll probably post a link to this blog post on my Facebook wall. How truly meta of me.
It Truly Is Nothing But A Datamine
The power that be over at the mighty FB have sworn that the site will always be free. And why not? They've made billions by passively feeding us ads for years. When you're watching TV, you can DVR and speed through commercials, but ad space on FB has grown over the years, invaded your wall, the games, friends posts. Your clicks give them demographic information to feed the next round of ads. It's the perfect marketing tool. I have mad-respect for it in that regard. From something that came about as a way for college kids to see what their friends were doing to a paradigm shift in marketing. Quite brilliant indeed.
It Is A Timesuck of Epic Proportions
Click...scroll...laugh...like....check the clock.
Yes. I personally have lost hours in that rabbit hole. No joke. I'm better about it now...mostly. But there was a time when I was clicking/posting/liking/scrolling every 20 minutes. Whether I was at work or not.
It was the perfect escape for someone who really didn't like their real-world life at the time. A way for me to craft this perfect persona. Of course I'd rather spend time in a world where hundreds of people love me and tell me so, instantly. Who wouldn't?!?
It's A Very Lazy Way To Be "Social"(but not as lazy as Google Hangouts)
The true problem with Social Media is that it's not social. having dinner with friends...all sitting across the table posting about what a great time they're having instead of actually living in the moment and having the great time...not cool. But more than that, it's the mean commenting. The fact that venom can be unleashed from behind the screen...buffered by electrons and data paths.
You can't see the effect your words are having on the person you're cutting with them. A kid insults another kid on the playground. That kid cries. Then, in many cases, the kid doing the taunting is upset too. Because they know what it's like to be sad. And they've just caused that in another. And that hurts everyone. And that's how we're wired.
When you can launch those missiles with no repercussions...that's when things just get mean. And very anti-social.
Only The Weird Don't Have Facebook Accounts (a shift from the "Facebook? No, I don't.
What's that?" days of yore)
I have a few friends that don't have Facebook accounts. Either for job reasons. Or reasons of age. Or the occasional 'I don't have time for that' self-awareness. And these days that just seems weird. But I can remember back in 2008 when I got my first FB account...not many had them. It was "Facebook? Huh. What's that? (explanation...) Oh...I don't think I'd be interested..." Now it's (Incredulous look) "You don't have a Facebook?!? What's wrong with you?"
It was a weird shift to see. Kind of like when only some people had computers in their homes...now most people have a computer in their pocket--and it even makes phone calls.
Guilt Tripping At the Speed Of Light
You didn't click LIKE on my post. I guess you hate gay-liberal-whale-loving-chillas...you bastard. Yeah..I don't know where I was going with this one. Other than..I'm guessing some moms are having a blast with this. "So...I saw on Facebook that you had a grand old time...and you can't even click like on your poor old mom's farmville status. I thought I raised better than that."
It doesn't cost money, but that doesn't make it Free
Time. How much is yours worth? How much are you giving to Mark Zuckerberg? And is he helping make your dreams come true? Hey...I'm just asking. I know for damn sure he's not helping mine...well..that's not entirely true. I'm a story teller. And I'm sharing my stories. So...yeah.
Egos: If you Stroke Them, They Will Stay
Heh. Yeah. Something like that.
The Hypocritical Oath (if you hate it so much, why are you still there?)
And here in lies the rub. I see how it's just not a key factor in my life. But the rub is...so many of my friends use it that I don't necessarily want to 'lose touch' with them. It is an incredibly powerful tool to find (cough stock cough) friends from all stages of your life. It is not without its merits.
And..some of the groups I'm involved with use it as their sole means of information dissemination. That makes it hard to just walk away cold turkey.
And there's also the
Fear of Loss
What would I do without it? Would my friends still stay in touch or would we drift for years again. At least now we have the semblance of 'keeping in touch.' People tend to say 'oh, let's keep in touch' and they never do. Well, very rarely. But facebook makes that easy. Truly. So, therein lies the double edged sword.
and the last and final point that we all seem to forget because we are constantly reminded how much we need Facebook in our lives.
There Is Nothing You Can Do On Facebook That You Could Not Do Before Facebook
This is quite honestly the hardest thing to really wrap my head around. I think...well gee...before Facebook I couldn't electronically organize events (evite?)...or message people (text/SMS/email)...or see peoples vacation pics (Flickr, Picasa, blogs)...or share my thoughts on something (blog/BBS/LiveJournal/letters to the editor)...or play games....NONE of that!!! Jeesh. My life was so empty before Facebook.
The reason it has become such an integral part of our lives is because they have made it convenient to do all of those things from one interface. And the price of that convenience is having our viewing/clicking habits sold to ad companies. To have the 'commercials' and 'sponsored links' all over the site. For most it's a small price to pay.
So...now what Skaggers?
Good friggin' question. I'll probably scale it back. I plan on going back to my original goal. To use it as a place to be positive. To spread love and inspiration. And to attempt to do so without getting completely sucked back in to the rabbit hole. Because I have a hell of a time leaving Wonderland.
So...you gonna leave?