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Face-off with Facebook

A little over a year ago, I set up a Facebook page at the urging of a friend. We’re both creative types and he thought a Facebook page might help me spread the word about my book, Sideways in Sarasota.

I’ve had a love/hate, mostly hate!, relationship with Facebook ever since. I’ve enjoyed the occasional update from a friend on something I didn’t know about — one friend snagged a great speaking engagement, one friend lost a lot of weight and posted gorgeous updated photos, another friend was a finalist for a filmmaking grant. All good, cool stuff to know. But for the most part, I was overwhelmed upon each visit by the sheer volume of stuff, stuff, stuff, being stuffed and unstuffed and then restuffed. It was a kind of hallucinatory experience each time I ventured in and I always left a few seconds later, shaking my head at what had become of my world. I know this is not a popular sentiment. I know it sounds judgmental and though I do judge some things, I’m not judging Facebook or the people that use it. I just know I can’t. Not any more.

It picks at something in my brain and in my soul. It says something is dead and never coming back to life again. It scares me a little bit about the ever-increasing unlikelihood that I will invite the elderly man who lives alone across the street to come into my home and dine with me or that I’ll go visit him and talk with him at length and maybe take his hand and look him in the eye andask him what was his best day ever. Unlikely, because I’ll be too busy becoming fans of pages for causes half-way across the world.

It scares me a little bit about the fact that it’s increasingly difficult to imagine sitting in a completely unlit home, with a man, watching snow fall outside while Sinatra croons in a loop that takes you from 9 p.m., to 4 a.m., and knowing definitively that the snow and Sinatra and the man were all that was necessary for waking up the next day with that intoxicating sureness of being, feeling completely alive. And no one, not once, in all that time, checks a computer or phone or handheld to tell them that they’re living. Nor do they check anything the next morning, or even the day after. Because they’re too busy living with each other.

I know a lot of people use Facebook, and will continue to, long after my page goes defunct (which happens today — I’m canceling the little sucker, or deactivating it, I guess, and I hope it disappears into oblivion because it was, if nothing more, than just oblivious in its very being).

For me, Facebook always did resemble not so much a community as a wasteland. I didn’t believe in it when I did it; struggled to feign a passing interest in it — I had to put a tickler on my calendar just to remind me to check it once a week; I’m tired of playing at life. Playing at living. Playing at talking with and to a gazillion people, none of whom I speak with in any meaningful way about any meaningful subject on any meaningfully regular basis. Maybe if Facebook did not employ the conceit of “friends”, I could stomach it. If they called it “interested parties” maybe, or “people who you might be able to get to vote for your cause or sign your petition” — but they insist on calling everyone FRIENDS or FRIENDS OF FRIENDS, which is even more Alice in Wonderland-ish.

I want some real friends — you know, the ones who call you at 3 a.m., because they just had a blow-out with their husband or wife and cannot go on without hearing your voice of reason. You know, the ones who come by your house unannounced at 1 a.m., maybe a tiny bit drunk and inviting you out to look at the moon. You know, the ones who write you a letter about how destroyed they feel over the fact that their mother has Alzheimer’s. You know, the one who takes a picture, prints it out, and snail mails it to you and says, look at what I saw; thought this would mean something to you too. God, I’m rambling.

Wha, wha, wha. I know there will come some moment when I’ll hit myself in the head for this. I won’t be able to vote for something a friend is doing, or help them drive numbers for a competition, or spread the word about a column I’ve written; I’ll get pissed at my own b.s.; I’ll be frustrated by my own anachronism.

But in the meantime, I already feel better. Just a wee bit closer back to who I am and not the anonymous “friend”/consumer/numb-number/conveyor of increasingly small thoughts “thing-to-be-counted” the world seems to want to turn us all into.

And I close with TS:

Here is no water but only rock
Rock and no water and the sandy road
The road winding above among the mountains
Which are mountains of rock without water
If there were water we should stop and drink
Amongst the rock one cannot stop or think
Sweat is dry and feet are in the sand
If there were only water amongst the rock
Dead mountain mouth of carious teeth that cannot spit
Here one can neither stand nor lie nor sit
There is not even silence in the mountains
But dry sterile thunder without rain
There is not even solitude in the mountains
But red sullen faces sneer and snarl
From doors of mudcracked houses
If there were water
T.S. Eliot (331-346, The Waste Land)

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Posted on May 6th, 2010Comments RSS Feed
6 Responses to Face-off with Facebook
  1. John W. Perkins
    May 6, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    Umm, what’s this facebook thingie ?

    Reply
  2. Real good keeping up John..Hey MC I never joined Facebook just for the very reasons that you stated.I keep in touch with the people that I want to keep up with so no use for Facebook.
    For me this was your best column yet since I have followed you for almost 2 years now.No rambling but just beautifully,emotionally written words which has a very insightful lesson for all.Keep being true to yourself and hell you know who your friends are anyhow.Carpe diem my friend!

    Reply
  3. Thanks, Steve. Your message made me feel better today. Carpe diem, indeed and in deed.

    Reply
  4. Wow
    just deactivate and move on!
    No biggy
    facebook is so 2008!

    Reply
  5. MC, I as well have no need for, and never will, for a Facebook Acct.
    Steve could have not put my feelings into words any better, as I sincerely feel the same.
    Peace and love.
    Daniel
    By the way, thank you for being there for us.

    Reply
  6. Hi Mary Catherine,

    Ah, a 20th Century woman in a 21st Century world. :)

    Kind of nice.

    -Howard

    Reply

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