I don't remember the day I created my Facebook account, but it was awhile ago, probably shortly after it became a household name. Before that, I had a Myspace account (which is still active, I believe, I just haven't bothered to log in for a very long time, and rightly so, as it's irrelevant at this stage). And somewhere along the line, I came to the realization that social networking just wasn't for me. However, I will say, it is addictive. That's what made me rationalize keeping Facebook for as long as I did, even after I realized that it was counterproductive to stay active in it. Today, I finally gathered the strength to "deactivate" my account (even this is a half-measure, short of deleting it. My account is still there, but it's currently in a deactivated state).
I will try to explain this, and make it sound meaningful, considering I have not slept since getting home from work. Anyway, probably a big part of it was that I had 68 friends, and by the time I deactivated, I had hidden most of their posts from view. I did not "unfriend" them, but this is the next best thing, as I can decide that I don't want to read drivel without hurting other people's feelings. All most of these people talked about were what their kids did or said today, or where they were eating, or their plans to get drunk and party tonight. Worse yet, these posts would get animated reponses, along with "likes". Many of my posts there were similar to the ones I make on this blog, of a "current events" and commentary nature, although much, much shorter, obviously. Due to my newfound interest in cooking, I would share what I made as well. Further down the line, I will admit, I was not above the trivial and largely pointless status update myself (for example, shortly before quitting, I said that I could not sleep and would watch "Curb Your Enthasium" and "Entourage"). But I tried to make my posts thoughtful, with proper grammar. And in response, what I would see is the cyber-version of tumblin' tumbleweeds. Usually zilch in the way of responses, and the only people who might respond half the time would be one of my two sisters.
I don't want to make it seem like I'm a needy person who seeks verification or approval of everything that he says or does, but, I guess that's what it seems like, and that's probably what it is. I've always been socially awkward, and when I have tried to break out of that shell, it's always met with astounding failure. So most of my life has been spent in, for lack of a better term, a kind of obscurity. And when I say or do something and it's met with indifference, yeah, it hurts. It's something that you'd think that I would get used to somewhere along the way, but there are some things you never get used to, and that's probably one of them.
I remember a long time ago, I posted on this blog about taking a break from posting for the same reasons, that no one was commenting back and that I felt like I was in a virtual echo chamber, basically talking to myself. A really cool guy from Indonesia, Adel (I hope you're still reading, Adel), responded and pointed out that just because no one is commenting doesn't mean that they're not reading. So I kept at it, and while I don't have the numbers of eyes that I want starting at my blog (which I have come to realize is next to impossible, considering the numbers of blogs in existence), I get a comment now and then, showing me that people do come by and read it, and feel compelled to respond to what I have to say. I hope that continues.
Anyway, another big reason why I decided to leave Facebook, and this probably hits closer to the heart than my other reason, is that a significant portion of my "friends" are people I went to high school with. Now, I was not what you would call a "popular" kid in high school. Hell, I wasn't even on, what would be called in Hollywood, the C or the D list. Yeah, I socialized and ate lunch with people, I wasn't one of those people who always sat by himself, but that's pretty much where it ended. I didn't have any close relationships. And yet, a lot of people who "friended" me were people I went to high school with, and who, I don't remember us exchanging two sentences. I also wonder how many of these "friends" would recognize me if I walked down the street, or I, them. If I was in a really bad jam, for example, looking for some place to crash, how many of these "friends" would step up to the plate and actually offer a hand? Not one, I'd wager. I remember a co-worker at an old job, this was back when Myspace was the big thing, telling me that the only thing that counted was how many "friends" I had. So their value as people, or their willingness to help you (and you, them) did not really count, it was just being able to say "I have XXXX" number of friends on Myspace/Facebook/Friendster" that counted, and could make the difference between acceptance and failure in whatever social circle, virtual or actual.
What I find very, very depressing, is that a lot of these people (friends on Facebook) have wives (or husbands), families, what seem to be steady positions, some kind of career, they probably own their own houses. I have been stuck in neutral since graduating high school. Yeah, I went to college and got my B.A., but who cares, it didn't translate to any kind of career. I still live at home, I've long given up on meeting someone and starting a family (not that I'm really looking to do these things, especially have kids, but just the fact that it isn't even an option, that pisses me off) and I open boxes for a living. So logging on to Facebook, and seeing how great things are seemingly going for a lot of people, that just got very depressing. I remember one day, this guy I went to school with (he's actually a great guy, we chatted a few times and exchanged emails), posted that he was now a "homeowner". I got into bed and stayed there for almost 2 hours. We went to the same school, I don't think he even went to college, so I ask myself, "where did I go wrong, and these people went right?"
I post a lot of stuff on this blog about the collapse of America, about peak oil and the crumbling economy. So I spend a lot of time frequenting "doomer" websites and forums. I'm convinced that my misfortunes have very little to do with the decisions I made, and are just a product of circumstances in general, like how companies are slashing people left and right, and how we have the worst job market since the Great Depression, things of that nature. On the other hand, I see these "friends" on Facebook, living seemingly normal lives, with the things that I covet. Hard times apparently have not touched them at all. So, I'm wondering, should I trust the former option, in which exterior events are affecting my life in decidedly negative ways, or are things really not as bad as they seem, and the "doom" is just helping me rationalize why I've come up short where it matters? I don't know, and I hope I figure it out. In that respect, I hope that quitting Facebook serves as a start.