This past week I walked into my composition classroom and my students were talking about one thing: facebook buying instagram. The 18somethings were all buzzing with questions, insights, and non-words (“it’s so interconnectudual!”)
I didn’t contribute a lot to the conversation. I deactivated my facebook in September and I’ve never used instagram, though I’ve admired & envied my friends fancy-filter-fotographs. All I could say to my students was something about facebook spreading everywhere. I compared it to a gas leak.
My close friends know I have an unnecessarily conflicted relationship with facebook. Since first joining in 2006 I’ve deactivated my account roughly 8 times and have deleted it twice. Each time I shake my fist in the air and shout “This time it’s for good!”
I bet a few of you dear readers also feel conflicted about facebook. Hi.
My reasons for feeling unsettled aren’t all that original.
- Staying in contact with people
- Sharing photos and being able to tell a friend 3 states away “the guy on the left is the one I was telling you about”
- Getting to “poke” people. As Aaron Sorkin said when he cameo’d on 30 Rock: What is poking anyway? Why won’t anyone do it to me? I’m cool.
- Looking through 500 photos of a stranger’s wedding/baby/and/or trip to Italy
- Running into someone who you A) deleted or B) ignored their friend request
- Stalking an ex, nemesis, crush, etc etc
- Privacy settings that are more complex & elusive than the female orgasm
- Feeling crappy about yourself since everyone else looks like they’re having so much more fun. They are also sexier and more popular — the instagram’d photos prove it.
(Not to mention all these conflicting articles that show facebook increases anxiety, confidence, narcissim, insecurities, and is being cited in divorce papers)
I’ve been missing facebook lately. Primarily because I’m homesick and feeling the weight of how many friends I’ve lost touch with over the years.
With facebook I can at least feel like I’m still in touch with people from my past.
But I know if I go back it will be the same.
Like any past love, there will always be things we miss. We quietly tell ourselves maybe this time it’ll be different.
But, like any past love who has hurt you, they probably will again.
We are creatures of routine.
Students in my class usually sit in the same seats every day. Dogs tend to piss in the same spots on a lawn. Flight attendants always do this with their hands during safety speeches. Someone who took a dump on your heart, whether it’s an “old friend” or an ex, will most likely do it again. And a social networking site that made you feel neurotic, paranoid and depressive, will hand you the same exact cocktail at the next party.
Regardless, I’m comforted by the patterns and habits of life.
I often wonder why so many people (literally millions) seem to function sanely with facebook. Give me a few weeks on the website and I turn into Sloth from The Goonies, chained in a basement of emotions, howling at a screen.
I don’t know if I’ll ever understand why I can’t make peace with facebook. But considering how much facebook seems to be soaking into every fiber of our daily lives, there will be plenty of future studies to help me answer why. One will be titled Why Cathie Can’t Handle Facebook. I’m sure Cornell is already working on it.
Someday I will probably go back to my deactivated account, spend a pleasant weekend with it, maybe eat some waffles, and say something like “oh yeah, this is why! How I’ve missed you!”
Then, as if on cue, it’ll start making me feel like shit and I’ll say something like “What did I expect?”
To quote mama Beyonce: “What goes around comes back around (hey my baby)”