The year was 2003. I had graduated high school, traveled Europe, and was heading off to college on the east coast. My high school friend, who had started college a year before me, came home for summer break and introduced me to the online phenomenon that was happening on college campuses, and it was called Friendster. It was a place where you connected with friends, made a profile for yourself, and you could post public “compliments” to your friends’ pages. I dove in head first, friending everyone I could possibly find, and have been a social media addict ever since– riding the wave of friendster, myspace, even Hi-5, facebook and twitter.*
I don’t know what about social media attracts me so. As a very young kid I used to talk to myself in the mirror, even when there were people around… which is basically all social media really is. Seeing a reflection of yourself saying things, and other people watching and commenting. I guess it’s more so about connecting with friends– but there are other ways to do that.
I’m telling you this because one of the items on my life list is to delete my Facebook account. I added that item at a time when I was deeply sad about the technological progress we had made since I had left highschool. Internet, smart phones, digital everything— I hated it all. There was no mystery in life anymore. I wanted to go back to a time where people had to call on a land line and you would answer the phone with a “Hello?” because you didn’t even know who was calling. You had to wait to see your pictures until AFTER you had them developed. I loved that.
Paradoxically, I am an avid Facebook user and I hate it. I hate it because it takes away from the mystery of people and their lives– people who aren’t actually in my life know things about me. Like, if I run into a middle school classmate that I haven’t seen since 1995, the whole “It’s been ages, what are you up to in life?!” question will already be answered. Hell, she’ll not only know I got married but she’ll know what my dress looked like and that my phone rang during the ceremony. I HATE that. It’s so disingenuous and boring.
So. Why don’t I just delete my Facebook profile? I guess because 1. I kinda like chatting with people via comments, and sharing pics with my friends, and 2. because I’m scared. I think I’ll feel left out. Like there’s always a party going on where all my friends are at but I decided to stay home. Will people actually take the step to call me and keep in contact? Will people forget I exist?
It’s a silly fear, I know. I had a conversation with a non-Facebook user just the other day and he assured me there was nothing to fear. People who really want you in their life will make an effort–texting is not that hard to do, he said.
I still haven’t made up my mind on what I’m going to do yet. Should I throw in the towel, delete this life list item, and just come to grips with the fact that this is how life is now and forever maintain my Facebook account? Or should I stop wasting so much time on a service I don’t really like having?
Have you guys ever thought about killing your Facebook avatars? Do you think it’s a waste of time or an interesting new way to interact?
*Actually, I even before Friendster was a thing, I had a tripod personal web page along with a few of my friends in the 7th grade, 1996,– you made your own page and you could sign each other’s “guest books.” That was, I think, a really early form of social media.