I'm deleting FaceBook. Before you inundate my G-mail with wails of protest (or applause, depending on your current opinion of my online antics) allow me to coolly and rationally explain why. This will be followed by some thinly veiled threats, and, depending on how jacked up I get while writing this, maybe a few acerbic barbs directed at specific individuals.
FaceBook (all, social networking websites, really) have become the abandoned amusement park of the internet for me. Despite all the promises of re-connecting with friends, rekindling old flames, or re-establishing tired friendships, FB has continually promised forever but never delivered. I have over 400 friends (admittedly, a good portion of those are merely people I friend requested so that I might add to my farm/mafia/fishtank apps), and of those who I "know" personally, I have perhaps twelve phone numbers. Those of you who I wanted to remain in contact with prior to the advent of FB have remained close to me, despite (or perhaps in spite of) FaceBook and all it's wonders. Some of you (you know who you are, so any anger you might feel regarding this sentiment is purely your own) friend requested me to presumably become the next Andy Warhol and set about collecting people. That's fine, I'm not offended. But by accepting your friend request, I've set a precedent for myself...a precedent that says "Now that we're FaceBook friends, I have given you tacit approval to bombard me with mass mailings, detailed descriptions of your lunch today, photos of your children, and requests to join your mafia/farming collective/fishtank." You know something? I don't even give a shit enough about my best friend to somehow feel obligated, on the basis of some inane monosyllabic wall post to suddenly feel compelled to exchange pithy dialogue on HIS wall. I'd just call the asshole up. Meh, probably not. I don't call him anymore than I have to. And he understands, which is why he's my best friend. See how that works?
I could wax philosophical about how social networking has changed the way we value friendships and all that jazz, but I'm really not interested in getting into the psychology of social networking, or why it appeals so much to a country full of synchronized bobble-heads shoving each other out of the way to get some face time on a YouTube video. I fully support your decision to network (socially) but in the future, leave me the fuck out of it.
It's contrary to who I am, and it makes me feel like a cheat, a cheat who's letting people I haven't thought about in decades manufacture an identity for me on the basis of some throw-away statements I probably made while guzzling NyQuil. It's a shabby artifice, and it's been wrapped with presumptions about how comfortable I am in letting you in on my secrets. And I probably didn't like you much to begin with.
I began using FB when I went back to school. Had to. Educational hazard. I fully intended to use it only for communique with my classmates, but you know how these things work...suddenly I had dozens of friend requests a day, a good portion of those from people I hadn't spoken to since high school. I accepted them, mostly because I like to apply the "well-wisher" philosophy to most people: You can consider me a well wisher in that I wish you no specific harm. I blithely accepted these requests until my ranks were veritably SWOLLEN with them, and then: radio silence. Not a fucking peep. I get it, I do. Maybe your life is catastrophically boring, nothing to report. But after two years, it occurred to me that these people were out there, looking contentedly at the number of friends they had accrued, waiting for the right moment to announce their presence back into my lives by "liking" something or "poking" me, thus ensuring that an in-joke might develop to salvage our fading, terminal relationship for another decade or so. This isn't fair to me, and it sure as fuck isn't fair to you.
Look, I'm happy that you finished your B.A., I really am. Your children look...like normal children, ten fingers, ten toes, so congratulations on having reasonably sound genetic data. Your last trip to (insert vacation spot here) looked really relaxing and I'm sure you deserved it. Thanks for tipping me off that you love burritos. Now get the fuck out of my face. I'm begging you.
The whole point is, we are living entirely discordant lives. Most of you have children. I do not, nor will I ever. It's a conscious choice. When my "friends" ask me the ubiquitous troika of queries after having gone through four presidencies since we spoke last, one of them is invariably "Do you have children?" Do you have any idea who you're talking to? Responding in the negative, it's then assumed that I haven't "found the right one yet" or told to "Be patient, you'll find her." There is nothing deficient in my refusal to procreate, and I will say in your defense that, despite what long term damage I fear might occur to the human genome thanks to your blindly following the reproductive imperative, it's your right, and your life. However, are you even remotely cognizant of the gulf this creates between our realities? I have no clue, or more importantly, no interest in the trials of parenthood. We have lost any common ground we might have had by virtue of this single act, and any tenuous friendship we might have had in middle school is now thoroughly rent asunder. My day consists of waking up around five p.m. and writing stories about alien rape while eating tacos in my underwear and speaking to my cats in German. What are we possibly going to talk about?
I have quite a number of friends with children, however. Most of these friends had the good sense to get knocked up young, and so while I was rambling around the country gulping hallucinogens and essentially trying to kill myself, their children become actual people, not just mewling, vernix covered troglodytes with bags of shit tied to them. As for the friends I have with younger children, they're given a pass, because we've been friends all along, and they could tell me who I was dating in the summer of 1997 or what my favorite song is. Can you?
The whole point is, I'm sick of it. I'm sick of playing a dumb application by virtue of the fact that I've been playing it for so long. I'm sick of trying to defend myself with text, when the written word is so easily distorted or taken out of context. I'm sick of faking virtual smiles. I'm sick of pretending that we share a mutual history that died ages ago, and I'm sick of trying to maintain a simulacra of that dead past.
The truth is, I don't really have much to say, nothing that particularly matters, anyhow. Sure, I can get a few laughs by virtue of some outrageous statement I make to elicit a suitably outraged response, but that isn't me, not really. I'm an alcoholic who can't keep a woman in his life and goes through jobs like crazy, and none of those are things I feel comfortable discussing paragraph by agonizing paragraph, with you or anybody, really. I owe myself more than the assumptions that can be made about me, and more importantly, I owe you more than the assumptions I'm making about you. If you want to go have coffee, ask me for my telephone number or e-mail address. I'd be happy to give you the benefit of the doubt. But all these dead names in my friends list loom like some dire sign, a prophesy of the day that we actually come face to face and are forced to hold one another accountable- accountable for maintaining a sham freindship just because everyone else is doing it.
I am driven by the obsessive need to exorcise artificiality in it's myriad forms from my life. That goes double for me, myself. I don't want to be burdened by this stuff anymore. A.I. chic might work in some dystopian science fiction novel, but it's real, and it's happening now, and it's scaring the shit out of me. I'm taking my identity back. I'm logging off, for good.