After dwelling on the pages of Facebook for a while now I’m mostly convinced it’s a life-ruiner in all respects. You have to see, on a daily basis, all of the things you were never meant to see. It’s sort of like finding the secrets to life after death, or discovering the awful truth about Santa Claus. There are just some truths you really don’t need to know.
It’s strange that, for instance, you have to know the whereabouts of all of the people you’ve ever known in your life.
It’s strange that, when people die, their Facebook pages stay up. People write on them as a kind of floating memorial. And Facebook helpfully suggests you friend a friend of a friend who is dead. The online person, the Facebook person, lives on. The real body goes. So now we have the body, the soul and the Facebook identity. It’s weird, isn’t it? It’s different elsewhere online because Facebook is the only place where you are confronted with everyone you’ve ever known, all of your family, and the people you’re networked with, as well as just random strangers. Who you are on Facebook is now part of who you are period. And it’s freaky.
The first weird thing that happened to me recently was that a fried of mine from my childhood friended me then got frustrated when that magical relationship we were supposed to have wasn’t rekindled. I’m busy, yo. And so she wrote on my page, “too stuck up.” So I unfriended her, just like that. And harmony was restored in my life. She was one less ghost from my past I had to worry about.
But the thing I hate most about Facebook is the way people torment each other. They use status updates to taunt their successes — my daughter’s friends in middle school all flaunted and taunted with the various high schools they were accepted into. Like just being able to do that on Facebook was the key. It’s a little puddle of ego and narcissism where that shit can fly around virtually unchecked.
When you have a relationship you change your status update and then break up via status update and everyone has to know about it. Well, that’s one thing. What’s worse is if you happen to hook up with an asshole who then pretends you don’t exist and never changes that relationship status. So then you have to see how little you matter on a daily basis. Worse, you have to watch that person actively flirt on their own profile page. Or if you get dumped you have to watch that person flaunt their latest exploits with dumb, show-offy pictures. One guy I know only reflects himself as someone who would attract only pretty girls and thus, every picture that is associates with his online persona is some kind of idealized beauty; none of the women he actually dates ever appear because that would then lower his status online.
So what is the good Facebook has to offer? I don’t really know. To me I use it mostly for work but I hate this notion of everyone knowing every little piece of my business. It’s weirds me out on every level. I worry for the generations that are growing up with this idea that you have your regular life and then you have a Facebook identity to cultivate. Everything you do has a societal echo that passes praise, likes, judgements…everyone puts on a fake happy face, like here are all of the good times I’m having that you aren’t having. Here is my great marriage that you don’t have. I don’t know how I would have survived with the added dimension of Facebook.
I just don’t think we ever really stopped to think about what the longterm effects of something like this might be. Oh well. There are surely worse thing in life. For now, though, I’m practicing disassociation.