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Why I do not use Facebook (anymore)

Publication Date : 06-03-2014

 

I first used Facebook in 2009 when it was still cool to be perpetually online, to post silly faces and pictures of lunches (or brunches), and when nonsensical photos could garner as much as 30 “likes” upon upload. What a time that was.

Well, it’s been five years, and it’s getting a tad annoying.

For one, I cannot but cringe at the fact that people kept sending me game notifications (even I thought that was so last year), until Facebook caught that drift and these transformed into those pesky application invites. Then there were the perpetual online love quarrels, and those cryptic one-liners that this new breed of romantics somehow keep shoving onto other people’s faces. Apparently, to tag another person to a very superficial music video about love and fun and all that jazz is all one needs to do to express a voracious, passionate love affair that the world must know about. And don’t get me started about selfies, hashtags, and every other fad that people follow simply because they can.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the people I am friends with on that site. I genuinely think that they are a bunch of wonderful, quirky old fools trying to make sense of the world and how they fit into it. What I do not approve of is how the site is indirectly insinuating that an active life online is equal to having the best form or means through which life can actually be spent. In other words, I think we have been ensnared by the idea that in order to maximise satisfaction from an activity, it must be broadcast and approved of by our immediate peers.

Otherwise, the activity itself would be of no consequence, or worse still, would not actually exist. If an event was not documented and posted online, it would be akin to erasing it from our own memories, which might lead us to question the validity of engaging in the activity in the first place.

I can perceive that from a lot of my friends (even from myself) who have been taking pictures or sharing stories for the mere sake of posting these online. The eagerness of the person to contribute to a hodgepodge of everyday stories, delivered to us each morning courtesy of our newsfeed, seems to be a pleasurable and convenient way of making our own stories into histories. But is this the only way we can share our lives with our peers? Is this the only concrete manner through which we can contribute to our ever-evolving society?

If there is one thing that Facebook promises and actually delivers, it is the sensation of a unique hyperreality. Of attaining pseudo celebrity status at the meager price of a status update, of having a sense of belonging by offering or receiving electronic “likes” and emoticons. Or of having the most coveted sense of entitlement to any and all things that will grab our depleting attention spans, whether such would entail a pitch in collective opinion, or a participation in the latest hashtag - whichever may seem more appealing.

Wait, let me clarify: I am not suggesting these things under the guise of pretentiousness. I know these things because I participated in almost all of the Internet crazes we know of today. Because certain circumstances forced me to stop posting a lot of my Internet-savvy statuses, I became an observer, rather than a poster. And while reviewing my own profile page, I was appalled at what nonsense was actually there. It made me wonder: Since when have I allowed myself to be preoccupied with trifling things that hardly mattered both to myself and to people who were forced to see them online? I shudder, and do not find the answer at all.

What terrifies me the most about this whole movement is the possibility that it is transforming the way we think and the way we live in relation to others, more than we actually expected it to. I miss the days when technology and gadgets were mere implements in setting up true conversations, in seeing true faces, in feeling real emotions from people we actually know from our experiences intertwined in theirs. Now, technology has replaced all of that and reduced our real-life conversations to indifferent “hellos” or mechanical “how are yous,” while the substantial talk is filtered through texts, pictures and other forms of fleeting megabytes and gigabytes of data, which can be digitally erased into nothingness.

This Facebook thing may be convenient, but not all convenient things lead to valuable ones.

This is why (now) I’d rather forego the whole Facebook experience and try as much as possible to see the people I want to see, and welcome those that I serendipitously come to know. To talk to them over whatever food or cheap coffee we can share. To hear their audible, true voices and just listen. To be able to definitively ascertain that I am talking to a living, breathing person and not just my computer sending out manufactured words and responses mimicking the other end of the conversation.

By doing so I reduce my time in front of my laptop. I rarely update my picture or status on that site, hardly checking if someone has messaged me. I would rather keep my mundane, mini-stories (although befitting a status update) to myself and watch these blossom into a genuine, finished narrative I can be proud to tell over and over again to my future children or even grandchildren. Because of this, a lot of my friends have been wondering how or where I am. I don’t always reply, but they can be assured I am very much alive and all the more eager to listen - just not through Facebook.

 

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