we’ll always have paris

November 22, 2010

i took to deactivating my facebook account last night after finally seeing the social network because i really bought into the narrative of the film that the creator of facebook is either mildly psychologically incapacitated or a total sociopath. those are the only two options, in my opinion. i do not think he’s a genius. at most, he’s a savant who can write a lot of code in a short period of time, who stumbled onto a marketing formula that worked best in its simplest, earliest form, and has, over time, devolved into a chaotic swarm of attention bait. there’s a line in the movie that facebook is “like fashion” in that it’s never complete. but such a concept is only interesting insofar as the thing itself is striving towards some idealized form. and i don’t think that that’s the case anymore. i think the website is an inchoate attempt to reduce social interactions into a system. this attracted me, for a time. but what makes “the facebook” profitable and hypnotically successful is the very thing that makes it problematic for me and you and everyone we know — it’s scalability. there is no need for me to continue to collect new “friends” who are going to invite me to their improv shows or tell me about the new blog they’re writing, or whatever arts and crafts side project they’re pimping at the time. (this absolutely does not apply to my friends who i talk to on the phone and see on a regular basis and have a personal relationship with, this applies to the glut of people i’ve met once or twice at a party and then substance of our relationship is basically based on them trying to “convert” me from a “friend” into a “customer.”)

this isn’t the first time i’ve “quit” facebook, and it probably won’t be the last, since their system leaves my “profile” dormant for me to reactivate for that moment when i’m weak-willed and lonely and desperate for some simulated social interaction. this will probably happen. and my will is likely to be weakened in the next few weeks as friends i haven’t talked to in a while suddenly notice i’ve disappeared from their friend box and email me or text me and ask me “where i went.” those messages will be nice and there is a part of me that hopes to get a few. but i also hope that there comes a time when it’s not a “shock” when people leave facebook, that it doesn’t come across as a departure from “the pack” — not that it’s a socially acceptable thing to do, but that it’s a totally unremarkable thing to do, that it’s not a form of rebellion, that facebook doesn’t have the power to make actions against it “rebellious.” i doubt that will ever be the case. but it’s a hope that comes directly from my reaction to the social network — that this website that was once a tool, a thing to aid and abet normal social interactions, has become too powerful of a force, measured in the amount of time i’ve spent/wasted refreshing its pages.




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