Facebook acted as the grand fakebookof my life. As if crowding my bookcases full of untouched volumes in order to make myself look like an intellectual on the surface, so have I spent limitless hours forging an identity that was not true to my own. An identity I proudly broadcast to the world in order to forward one agenda or another. I was proud of the self I saw when I looked over my profile and expanded upon my information. Whether I was conscious of doing this or not is irrelevant. That it happened and fooled others and myself into believing I was somebody I wasn’t is the weight of this issue. I doubt I am the only one to experience this.
Presently I sit in a quiet room with nothing but this blinking cursor and the need to write to capture my attention. I’m wearing a cozy lambswool sweater, sitting with a mug of water, a phone that’s been silent for almost a week now and a warm halogen lamp beaming yellow light through the winter darkness. Soft voices echo up from downstairs and an old-fashioned alarm clock ticks away in the corner. This moment borders on lovely tranquility yet with this peace I feel a hint of unease. How could a scene so comfortable and still be unable to diffuse my restless mind?
I find myself restless and weary all-over. When I open my browser and look at my speed dial, I don’t see Facebook anymore. How I would race there to check things, to gaze at the endless streaming news feed with excitement, to recapture the enchantment even if for only a minute or two. There I could find live connections to all of my friends. I could see pictures of what they did over the weekend, or pictures of them taking pictures of themselves, and speak to them for hours to come.
More, I could send messages to everyone, I could check how everyone was doing, all at once, whenever the time! And to those people I scarcely knew but recognized by face, well, I could add them to my list as a sign of recognition, acceptance and practicality. Perhaps in the future I needed to contact them — or found myself falling for those lovely, mysterious women. If it was attraction I found or curiosity, with this mighty social tool I had unlimited time to review profiles, photo albums, messages, and so many chances to make moves and hope that an internet infatuation could turn into internet romance and romance in real life!
Ah, listen to me. I speak of the virtual realm with the sort of sentimentality that I might give to my loved ones. This Facebook-rooted sentimentality is fleeting, though. After getting rid of my account and purposefully locking myself out so that I can guarantee there is no way I will falter and go back into that way of living and communicating, life has been interrupted. I name this post after the long standing, risky method of birth control called coitus interruptus or, more colloquially, “pulling out“. This is because my attempt to free myself from Facebook has been a great struggle and on many occasions I found convincing evidence on both sides to be in conflict. I wanted to leave, but imagine what I’d be missing — it was just too enjoyable to keep calm, keep thoughtless and keep Facebooking! Yet another side of me yearned for the old days before Facebook was even out when I had no such community holding me back. In the end, I pulled out for my own mental safety and to experience a future filled with less clutter and more free time.
Such has been the result. Without the subconscious/unconscious reliance on a social networking site my days have become almost entirely free. It is difficult to make sense of this without experiencing it for yourself. It is not as if I inhabited Facebook like a second home; some days, yes, I was browsing for hours through my friend’s profiles and recreating my own, chatting along the whole time. The real issue, though, is that Facebook created something I am going to term the “concentration void“. Whenever I was working on my computer Facebook was a constant companion that, even when closed, could manifest again at any moment. It’s instantaneousness is enchanting. Even if I only checked it for a minute or two (hell, even seconds) those short breaks added up. Eventually dozens of short Facebook breaks amount to hours and each little break causes a void in your concentration. Projects, papers, essays, creative bits of writing, art, everything — it all gets set aside to simmer and Facebook takes centerstage. It becomes drug-like and your dependency is no better. Even those most resistant to its allure often become pulled in at one point or another and stop thinking about how their mind has been lowered into treachery. Focus and concentration, even for the most astute of us, becomes a void of swirling distraction and nonsense.
Now I have nothing. I’ve picked up interest in this blog again, in furthering my musical capacities, and in honest, loving time spent with people forever important in my life. Oblivion has never felt so good.
p.s. If you’re interested in joining me and getting rid if your account once and for all, I wrote a comprehensive tutorial covering just about everything you’ll ever need to know. Safe voyages, traveler!