Three months after leaving my Facebook account in the dust and effectively committing Facebook Suicide, I find myself once again coming back to the social networking metropolis, unsure if it is the dystopian bane that I once believed it was.
During my experiment being out of the loop on social networking websites, I had more time to myself and much more time to think. I wasn’t bombarded with an ever-growing newsfeed or details about the lives of others that, frankly, I didn’t really care about.
I also, for about three weeks, experienced what I would consider a deep depression that would scarcely lift. Without a job or a romantic relationship, I had so much free time that I thought at first I would be ecstatic; however, my lack of social contact grew into an immense burden.
I have many friends in town and rarely did I hear from them; no one in my hometown e-mailed me, almost no one called me on the phone, and post was absolutely out of the question — even though I did warn all of my close friends that I would be off the social grid for awhile.
The most striking of cases is that a friend down the road, perhaps two or three minutes of walking distance, neither me bothered to call me or visit me. Does this mean that they didn’t care about me, after all? I don’t think so. You might also accuse me of not trying to contact them in other ways, and to that comment I will tell you that I did everything I could to get a hold of them, but eventually gave up and grew tired of having to always set things up myself. I’ve got another theory to explain this.
Instantaneousness is a new phenomenon for the human race. Where at first the only things instantaneous were our thoughts and what was going on in the present moment, we can now contact those far away — a world away, even — in almost real time — whether it is through telephone, instant messenger or especially texting and Facebook. The quality of contact doesn’t have to be the same as face to face communication, it just has to be some sort of virtual contact that allows the two people to share thoughts; regarding its depth or superficiality, I’ll let you be the judge.
Thus, Facebook is the ultimate social conglomerate, the ultimate tool for the masses to connect in a new and exciting way, blending in not only all these forms of contact, but even allowing oneself to create a new identity. What you write in those boxes is your ego defining yourself — it doesn’t have to be true, only what you wish to be true. The trance-like state the website puts you in discourages any other method of communication, and the website itself — merely millions of ones and zeros, the product of hundreds of hours of coding — becomes a quasi-reality that, slowly but surely, is usurping the real life.
My conclusion is that Facebook is not a necessity; not many years ago Facebook wasn’t even around. However, if you deny the way society is changing and fight or ignore the changes, you will be left behind by those who are on the cusp of change. You must be aware that a fruitful life exists beyond the internet; even for all its gifts, there is a dark side that makes the human closer to an automaton than ever before.
Whatever you choose to do with your time, the choice is yours.