Facebook, We Need to Break Up

Facebook, We Need to Break Up July 26, 2012

Oh, hey there, Facebook. We need to talk.

I think it’s time to  break up. Completely. I never want to see you again.

This has been growing for a while. Things started out good, but you’ve changed.

The first sign was your cultic ways, how you used my friends to get me to spend more time with you. Then you manipulated me into giving you more information: My phone number, my current location. You rifled through my contact files and insinuated yourself into my phone.

You’re a creeper, Facebook.

Now you watch my every keystroke, even when I’m not logged in. You tell people what I’ve been reading, even my insomnia-driven reading on mating whales. You even tried, without my knowledge, to take over my email. And you seem hell-bent on revealing my location to the world, even when I’d rather not.

I have no doubt you’ve stored all this information in your pretty little databanks, ready to use it to your advantage. In fact, you already do. You pimp me out to advertisers and media outlets.

I have no illusions that you have my best interests at heart. All this power is for Facebook and Facebook alone. And as long as I stay with you, you hold all the power.

Now, more sinister news. One of your 650 million users, a certain Mike Huckabee, created an event called “Chick Fil-A Appreciation Day,” a response to an all-American controversy in which your attitude toward a chicken sandwich defines, in every way, if you are a good or horrible person. His event disappeared, without warning or comment, from Facebook for 12 hours. Apparently, a glitch brought on by a massive response.

Meanwhile, pages for  The Bachelorette (907,810 likes), One Direction (8,247,513 likes), and Katy Perry’s PopChips Giveaway (299,606 users) continued without incident.

This should be a problem to us all, Facebook, whether we think Chick Fil-A is delicious patties of bigotry or nuggets straight from Heaven’s deep fryers.

Our land has litigated, legislated, and town-halled every jot and tittle of where you can pray in school, what you can say about evolution, if you can wear a head scarf, when you can and can’t carry a Sikh ceremonial dagger called a Kirpan, where you can build a mosque or church, when you can call someone stupid or lazy or evil, if you can pass out literature on the sidewalk and if you can lie about having won a military metal.

We endure Klu Klux Klan rallies and Westboro Baptist Church. We facilitate the Million Family March and the Million Mom March and the March to Support Israel and the March for Life. Falun Gong sets up on the National Mall in a tent with big signs. The Hare Krishnas insists on marching in the Fourth of July Parade. The motorcycle tribute called Rolling Thunder rumbles our capitol each Memorial Day.

Why do we allow all this? Because we believe that you have a right to be heard, whether you’re beautiful or despicable.

Facebook, you may have deliberately thwarted Huckabee or it may have been a glitch. I’m not sure I trust you enough to believe your explanations.  But the scary thing is that you could have and would be within your rights. As a corporation, you have every right to dictate your values, terms of service, and culture. As does Chick Fil-A.

I’m fiscally conservative and usually support business and corporations. But on this, I’m Team Government.

Too many years have passed and too much blood has been shed to voluntarily hand over our right to free speech to a monopoly that has no accountability other than the bottom line and values business policy over the Constitution.

Facebook, you manipulate, you control, you pimp me out, and potentially tell me what I can or can’t say.

That’s not love. That’s abuse.

But that’s not really why we’re breaking up. Not entirely. It’s not just you. It’s also me.

I don’t like who I become when you’re around.

I post banalities because realities would be too much. I respond with comments when in the past I would have sent a sympathy or congratulatory card. I’ve realized, a thoughtful wall post is no substitute for a visit and a gift of a casserole.

In certain moods, I can’t resist charged political or religious arguments that go nowhere and leave me feeling cheap, used, and dirty.I sigh with jealousy reading some posts, with smugness at others.

You’ve insinuated yourself into my brain as you have into my cell phone. I feel I have to keep up. I walk through life composing Facebook updates. I snap pictures with an eye to how they would look on my wall.

My narcissism now feels natural.

Worse, when scrolling through your ever updating information stream, I feel mild. I’m mildly annoyed, mildly interested, mildly joyful, mildly sorrowful, mildly amused.

I want to feel passion again.

Passion that comes from hearing funny stories told over beers or sitting with a weeping friend. Passion from serving others.

Nothing I do on Facebook has any value to anyone. I am not making the world better in any way. I am not helping, compassionate, sacrificial or caring.

I’d like my life to matter, not to be measured out – to paraphrase J. Alfred Proufrock – in status updates.

So we’re breaking up. Don’t msg. Don’t text. Don’t send creepy little reminders of how much fun others are having with you.

For the first time in a long time, I feel better. Free. Hopeful. I’m better off without you.


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