Last weekend I decided to do something that I had been thinking about for a few months- I erased my Facebook profile. I didn’t do it over privacy concerns or anything like that, but instead because my faith in humanity (myself included) was being slowly drained. I can handle the daily dumbness that comes with being a part of a social networking site. The fact that videos of cats doing tricks get more attention than eye opening articles about the lack of actual edible material in our food doesn’t shock me much anymore. I have plenty of “friends” who post important information and will engage in a lively debate. I’m also fine with reading about some redneck that I went to high school with having his 13th kid- to each his own. However, once election time approaches and I see otherwise sane people become nationalistic, partisan fanatics I begin to shake with anger and depression. I see friends who, for the past four years have been posting videos, articles, and opinions about the genocide and austerity promoted by the current (and all former) administration(s), suddenly encouraging people to vote for the lesser of two evils. I see people forgetting four years of lies and deceit and losing their shit over an excited speech filled with new promises. I see people who can usually see through mainstream bullshit, become the most patriotic people in the world on 9/11 or Memorial Day. I see this and I try to engage, but these otherwise wise people repeat talking points and cliches. These past few weeks (culminating with the Democratic National Convention) have pushed me over the edge and Saturday morning, after waking up in my house/tent, I decided to erase myself from Facebook.
I remember growing up in the late 80’s and early 90’s. There were no cell phones and I hadn’t yet heard of the internets; however, somehow, I had friends. I knew what was going on with their lives and they mine because we told each other. If we couldn’t get in touch with each other, we didn’t; we waited. Then came beepers, cell phones and the internets. I didn’t use the internet too much and the cell phone and beeper allowed me to be even more in touch with my actual friends, especially the ones who had moved away. Then came texting and shortly after that, social networking. Somehow in a ten year span I became someone who didn’t enjoy talking on the phone. I became known as the guy who didn’t answer calls- if you wanted to get in touch with me, you could either text, email, or send me a message on Myspace and later Facebook. Being on the road for the past few months, I’ve had time to explore this. I noticed that I was passing spare time, not by looking out of the window of the moving train or by talking to some stranger in a weird city, but by visiting the Facebook mobile app. I’d sit down with a pad of paper, a pen, and a book but not touch any of them because I was so absorbed with my news feed. It’s amazing how just in the past few days, not only does my phone battery last longer but I fill my spare time with reading, writing, exploring on my bike, and – gasp – talking to people on the phone and in person. I’m not fully confident that I will remain out of the reach of Facebook, but I like where things are going.
It has been five full days since this experiment, and overall it’s been positive. I have brief pangs of panic when I think that some long lost friend is trying to get in touch with me, but can’t. Luckily, this is easy to get passed. Especially when I consider friends who don’t have my phone number, and the reasons for this. I miss the few friends who would fill up my news feed with interesting articles, videos, pictures and the likes. I also don’t know what to do when I discover an article on my own, read it, love it, want to share it, and then realize that I can’t just click “share on Facebook”. What the hell did I do before Facebook? I honestly can’t remember. Just when I was about to give up and rejoin, I remembered my blog. Although this won’t help me reconnect with old friends or discover news articles posted by Facebook radicals, it will help me to share what I read.
I kept up to date with the blog for a year or two back in the late 2000’s, but have greatly slacked since then. Before, I used it as a way to share my thoughts. I would read a bunch of articles to start off my day and incorporate them with whatever I was reading in book form and what I was experiencing in real life. Not many people read it, but there were a couple posts that drew some attention and most importantly, I like the way it made me feel. Now, I plan to use it in pretty much the same way. Hopefully I have more insight than I did a few years ago, but even if this is an epic failure I’ve taken what I consider to be the first step to getting back to real life. Maybe the smart phone goes next…
(note: for those who only were able to contact me on Facebook, feel free to email me at expatriate16 at gmail dot com)