Dear Facebook,

We need space. Indefinitely. And, let me be clear, it’s not you, it’s me.

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Seinfeld had the best riff on this, but I can’t seem to find it, anywhere. Ohwell. Emma will always do.

I know you’re used to all the attention. Depending on the day, your founder is either the most astute entrepreneur on the planet or the most irresponsible millennial alive. They even made a movie about the guy – scored by one of my favorite artists. The score won a Golden Globe and an Oscar – but, you know, Nine Inch Nails was going to be just a fad. Sorry, I went all fanboy on Trent. I go fanboy on people, sometimes. It can cause problems.

Anyway, the real answer about Zuckerberg is that he’s a smart, lucky young man, who worked hard and succeeded. He’s using that wealth for social good. A fellow human – for me, anyway, Facebook. You’re not a human. You’re a community, with its own set of challenges – something even your creator admitted, recently.

The problem is how I act in that community. Not all the time, and not with every move. First, the good:

  1. I’ve reconnected with a lot of old friends. It’s been so wonderful to see how everyone’s lives have evolved – friends from grade school, high school, college. Many of us are far-flung – especially the college folks. And, some of us are just a couple of streets over. So incredible how that works. And, I wouldn’t have done it without you.
  2. It’s become my newsreader. I stay caught up with current events and politics on every level, thanks to you. And, I get to read more in-depth stuff, when I have time. I wouldn’t be anywhere near the level of well-read or informed without you.
  3. I have family scattered throughout the US. I wouldn’t have much contact with them, at all, were it not for you.

There’s more, I suppose. But, I’ll start with those. And, it’s not all roses and dog videos.

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Not a video. Eventually, I’ll get the upgrade that allows me to post those. For now, enjoy this GIF (pronounced “Giff”…I don’t care what the creator says).

So, the bad:

  1. I’ve needed to do much more fact-checking, when I see a link. And, I need to avoid the most clickbaity of clickbait. This isn’t all you, Facebook. This started with e-mail chains – the thing that one person always sends us with the latest conspiracy theory or damning evidence, regarding a public figure. But, here’s the thing: fake news may have helped elect the current guy in the White House. And, that was spread primarily through you, Facebook. It took a while for your creator to hold you accountable. But, eventually, he did.
  2. Speaking of political posts, don’t you wonder about how divided and polarized we’ve become as a country? Of course you don’t. Because, you’re not a human. I wish you could see what’s happened, and the role you might be playing in it. Again, not all your fault. The divide began long before the first friend request. But, I’m not sure you’re helping. I’ve blocked more people – including old friends and relatives – over heated political discussions and diverging opinions on social issues. Somehow, I – and we – have forgotten that we are more than our opinions…no matter how strongly we hold them. And, sometimes, that means we lose the opportunity to connect with someone who really matters to us, in real life – because of some stupid thing they posted online.
  3. Drama. Too. Much. Drama. Sometimes, it becomes tempting to have it out with that one person who posted something you didn’t agree with. And, then, it becomes an all-out public slug-fest. The thing is, we always feel more entitled to slug it out, when we’re hiding behind a screen. I wouldn’t dare lash out in some of the ways I used to, if I was looking that same person in the eye. We might still disagree, but the tone stands a better chance of being civil.
  4. Vaguebooking (known as Subtweeting in the Twitterverse). Facebook, your presence in the universe encourages something else – a safe place to overshare. But, is it? Of course not, so we’ve developed the art of the vaguebook – the share that’s directed to a specific, unnamed person, but could also pass as a standalone post that others might find amusing. Of course, if there are others familiar with the specific target or situation, those folks find it even more amusing. It’s high school, all over again. Childish, insecure bullshit. I’m a middle-aged, grown-ass man. You have a problem with me, you come to me. But, wait…I’ve done it. Because, I’ve become part of the problem.

You see, Facebook, it’s really not you. It’s me.

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The truth is, I’ve also destroyed friendships – or damaged them in ways that aren’t easily reparable. Nothing is worth that, Facebook. Not even you.

In short, I need to take  a step back and assess things. What’s the best use of my time? How can I use this as a platform to communicate and connect, and eliminate the other narcissistic tendencies that come with its use (my narcissism is the real problem)?

I need to call my family members, read books, clean my house, and see my friends in real life.

It’s not forever. It can’t be. Ironically, you might be one of the best places to promote this blog. So, we’ve got to come together, at some point. Redefine the relationship. Put things in their proper perspective.

Until then, I hope you’ll understand the need for distance.

E.

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