Friday, January 14, 2011

Be My Guest: The (Non) Social Network

Still looking for a New Year's Resolution? Get off Facebook. Seriously. Not convinced? Well then, check out this guest post from David Hubbard, writer, Iraq veteran, chess player and- most importantly- my friend Giddel's hubby. Okay, well, it's important to me, he he he.


I am contemplating a farewell to social networking.  Like all complex endings, the beginning was simple.  In my mind the arc went something like this: 

1)     1.)  I  join Facebook because my twin sister, who moved overseas, wants an easier way to stay in touch.  I trust in the “connect, share, and what not” benefits of this new technology.

2)      2.) I find friends, people I liked from school and work.  We banter back and forth about the past, school, sports, or memories.  We post photos of when we used to drink too much and other happy moments in our short lives.

3)      3.) Politicians discover social networking, leaving newspapers and magazines wondering what the heck just happened and why no one cares about what they are printing anymore.  They eventually figure out how to become relevant again in the new social landscape.

4)      4.) People start getting fired for what they post.

5)      5.) Our parents and friend’s parents show up touting web links to special interests as if they are admission tickets to the new social network event.

6)     6.)  I grow up and accept that the world is big and people are different.  I accept friend requests, some dubious, and make a few of my own.

7)      7.) My opinion of people slowly sours as I read their media links which insult or disparage people of different racial, religious, or sexual backgrounds. The balance tips when someone insinuates that I am going to hell because I am essentially different. As if I can help it. (Believe me, I’ve tried.)

8)      8.) Businesses figure out where we have all been hiding and create swell icons for us to paste on our profile page like Eagle Scout badges. Facebook offers us up for a small fee.

9)      9.) Personal beliefs –the final sacred holdout in modern society – become products to swap, critique, and evaluate with glancing Amazon book review-like attention.  My brain swims in conflicting fortune-cookie truisms and enlightened quotes of people who belong to a world that no longer exists.  I shamelessly include a few of my own.

10  10.) I discover one day that I miss the nervous energy of actually approaching a new person with the intent of finding out more about them.  I’ve grown lazy as the years passed.  When I wish to get to know someone just because, I throw up a friend request, maybe rummage about their photos, and that is as far as it goes.  I trade getting to know the people around me for a clandestine recon mission.  I feel like a creep. I used to be better than this.

11 11.) I miss the simple pleasure of enjoying simple pleasures without vexing over how to phrase my simple pleasure for others to read and comment.

12 12.) I find myself burdened by the complex responsibility of maintaining a virtual self. 

Guilty as charged?  You bet your Twitter password I am.  I have aided and abetted the very force that I now wish to disown. 

 Welcome to the post-modern age, boys and girls, where the comic and tragic rest in peace and pieces.  Step right up and watch as three friends deduce a truth, a half-truth, or a lie from one innocent post, (and still miss the point).  All is available for your viewing pleasure, ready to be celebrated, scorned, disregarded, mourned, and passed on with just the indiscriminate click of a mouse.  Should you find that sorting through canned worldviews is all too confusing, we also offer addicting games and social causes, in which one can invest many cheerful hours for no actual benefit.  

Whatever happened to “It’s just Facebook”?  You don’t know and neither do I.  

Now, if you feel the way I do, copy and post this to your friend’s pages.   You know you want to.


And while you're logged on and copying pasting this into a note, don't forget to "Like" FAR on Facebook.

   And if you've decided to steer clear of Mark Zuckerburg's brainchild for awhile, log on to Twitter to read more from David.


Alan said...

Great post! However one thing he forgot was how allowing our lives to be so open and available, we leave ourselves open and victimized by those wishing to cause us harm. I am so against the whole checking in thing on Facebook to let people know where you are at every minute of the day. Your essentially saying "Hey weird guy I friended so long ago I forgot, I'm not home but my wife and child are. Feel free to bust down the door and take what you want".

Alisha De Freitas said...

@Alan, yeah, I refuse to do that FB "Check-in". Why post an open invitation to get robbed? Great addition.

David H said...

Well? I just deactivated my account. Osama-mania pushed me over the edge. FB began as a good thing and I loved the exchanges over the past 4 years. Maybe it changed or I changed. Either way I'm done clinging to a virtual existence. My bucket-list has always been impossibly long, but I have to give it an honest shot. I want to focus on something new, on my own terms and in my own format.

I'm also done with watching people rip each other over nonsense. The vitriol and negativity is at an all time-high. Clearly we are not the ever-smiling people behind our photographs. I woke up one morning to realize that I didn't want to say another word and knew the game was over.

By the way, you should have seen the way Facebook tried to guilt me into sticking around! Crazy how it all began as something fun and innocent.

Alisha De Freitas said...


First, I understand. I got off FB for Lent and it was one of the best moves I've made in a long time. I found it easier to read (I mean, the Sunday NYT AND blogs AND books AND devotions) and write (there was a sharp increase in my blog entries).

So, I went back on FB about a week ago, with Lent being over, and I'm already aggravated. This week, people have been ranting and raving over Osama Bin Laden- his death, the ethics, the pictures, the celebration. And the hugely ugly and personal tone of these "updates" are disturbing. I was telling my brother yesterday I think I'm going to have to go off again because I just can't deal with the level of vitriol. He's telling me to stick it out. I don't know. At this point, I probably won't be logging on for a bit.

And yes, that guilt trip FB lays on you is ridiculous! But "So and so" will miss you! Augh! And the fact you can't actually delete your account is creepy, only deactivate it. So you forever belong to FB in a way... *shudder*.

Joseph Flemming said...

To both David & Alisha two people who I highly respect, I almost deleted my FB account several months ago. Like you I was tired and disappointed at the anger, bitterness and partisan conversations that was taking place. Worse yet, when hateful and ideologically motivated insults weren’t being slung around faster than a Glen Beck diatribe, the Shallowness and narcissism was almost too much to take.

Then I realized that I had lived this before, sure this was a digital social network, a community of friends, acquaintances & strangers smashed up into a single location with egos the size of Texas. In other words, I realized this was just a digital High School.

This time the insecurities might be different, trade in fear of pimples for fear of 10lbs of baby fat. Instead of feeling uncool, the pressure to have that “great Job” and awesome car/vacation is only magnified as people post their photo albums saying “Best Hawaii Vacation ever”

I started second guessing my responses to post, how I would phrase a comment; ever mindful that one false word could potentially make my friends list drop.

I watered down opinions, kept response short abstract or neutral…until I barely commented at all. Relegated to just clicking the “like” button or occasional posting a song. I became disenfranchised.

Then I regained control. Social Networking is about sharing, and sharing freely. If the messages that you are viewing are truly offensive, then I suggest unfriending that person. I came to the sobering conclusion that while I might tolerate and respect different viewpoints, if people are no longer interested in a true honest dialog and are only using this as their personal bully pulpit, than I am better off without their digital friendship.

I am selective who I friend now, and utilize the Facebook account settings to restrict access to my media by people that are not truly friends. (Certain co-workers & Fox news and friend affiliates)

I also will not hide my opinions anymore. A man has to stand for something, and your word(s) tells a lot about your character as a person. I will never say anything online that I would not say in person. I put it out to the net freely, and am not ashamed of my viewpoints, of course I am tactful but I am not scared to let people know: I am a family loving, life loving, Jesus loving, politics, videogames, skateboarding geek and I am proud of it!!!

So do some spring cleaning, and keep on using FB for what it truly was created for, sharing with friends and family.

Jenny said...

I love Facebook and would not close it. I only have friends on their I actually like and want to speak to. Now if you have people on there who are not your friends and they are just acquaintances then block them. I use Facebook as a tool to talk to my children and loved ones, or joke around with friends. Some friends that I do not speak to enough because of busy lifestyles, I seem to catch them more on Facebook because it seems that it is the thing to do while you are at work. When I was overseas it was my lifeline to the real world. It kept me informed of what was going on in the states. It is just like everything else, be careful and use it for what it is, a tool.

Carlos said...

David's points are so spot on it's scary and the answer to the question "is it just Facebook?" is dependent on one thing; control. I had this same battle with myself and now I rarely post a status, comment pictures, or randomly browse like we all did at some point. The people that really want to get in contact with you send a message but meeting new people and really getting to know someone is impossible to do through a series of key strokes.

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