I don’t set resolutions – because calling anything that ensures they won’t be met – but I’m weaning from social media, especially Facebook. Because it’s tied to our pet sitting business and because too many bands and venues and events and such insist on using Facebook to disseminate information, I want/need to keep my actual account. For now, anyway. Since it’s an addiction, my brain keeps conjuring excuses to continue to interact with Facebook. But as I work my way backwards through my online life, purging my pics and my posts from the site, I’ve discovered unexpected encouragement to see the process through.
Posts and interactions change dramatically as I pore through the site. I’ve been on Facebook since 2006. In the beginning, it looks like social media actually earned the ‘social’ descriptor. Real, genuine conversations took place. People, myself included, shared regular old bits and bobs of their lives, and other people contributed thoughtful discourse. Actual interests were shared. Connections were established and maintained. People from far flung places and distant pasts reconnected. People appeared to care about each other. It looks oddly like community.
But then, somewhere around 2012, things start to change. It all begins to feel… cultivated. Gradually people begin less talking to one another, and more talking at one another. Spontaneous moments give way to carefully crafted self-promotion. Engendering community takes a back seat to navel gazing. “Hey y’all, look at this!” Becomes “Hey y’all, look at me!” Conversation takes a back seat to seeking confirmation and affirmation. Interest in each other transmogriphizes into interest in our ourselves and our online appearances. It’s becomes less about what you see, and more about how you’re seen. In the beginning social media existed to share parts of your life. Then you start conducting your life around how you’d like it present on social media. By 2016 the transformation’s nearly unbearable. I never would have joined 2016 Facebook. Most of us probably wouldn’t have.
I don’t pretend to know what all caused it. Maybe it’s all calculated. Maybe social media platforms want it this way. Maybe it’s more lucrative for them if we’re all just constructing hyperreal versions of ourselves – hyper adventurous, hyper edgy, hyper successful, hyper attractive, even hyper sick. Maybe it’s not in their best interests for us to be using their platforms to communicate with one another rather than at one another. Maybe it’s just human nature taking its course. Maybe it’s the result of all of us aging, and some sort of subsequent self-absorption that accompanies that. Maybe it’s all of those things. Maybe it’s none of them.
All I know is that 2006 Facebook was a mostly pleasant place to hang out. We were all just figuring out this social media thing, and the newness and naivety seemed to engender as much authenticity as could be possible on the intertoobs. By 2016 Facebook is the yin to its decade ago yang. In 2019 Facebook feels like burden. Reflexively, I keep coming back to it. Because it used to be interesting and enriching and communal, I log back in looking for – hoping for – that. But it isn’t that anymore.
Ironically, I’m tempted to share this entry on Facebook, because that’s just how much it has burrowed into my brain. I want to slap it up there and return later to be greeted by a bunch of ‘friends’ replying “Yes! Let’s Make Facebook Great Again!”
That’s pretty damned stupid, and speaks volumes to how social media and fake internet points implant themselves into our lives.