Saturday morning, September 22, should have gone down as a momentous point in the history of my life but it didn’t.
It was the day I unilaterally decided to suspend my Facebook account.
No, I didn’t flick the switch in a fit of piqué after having been snubbed, overshadowed, upstaged by some upstart diva or anything vile like that. The thought had gnawed at me for a while, months, and I kept on putting it off. I was too hooked on Facebook to do it, it would be the equivalent of plunging my life into a social black hole, I would die if I didn’t read about what James Onen and his retinue of free thinkers were talking about … and so on and so forth.
I finally made the decision to take a hiatus following two days when I was down with a cold. Over those two days I was on Facebook more or less constantly, learning … precious little actually.
People I knew and didn’t know were jet lagged in New York City, others were about to arrive in New York City, were about to go out and drink beer in Bern, were sleepless in Vancouver, were in the line waiting to pay for their groceries, were guffawing at yet another faded picture of yonder years they had dug up, congratulating themselves on being God’s gift to humanity, the usual suspects were dispensing yet more love advice, cut and uncut men (and women!) were haranguing each other about “male genital mutilation,” others were having a heated debated about having sex in a car as opposed to while standing up against a wall … were, were, were ….
To my horror, I was engaged in a number of discussions, in various groups, for hours on end that every sinew in my body was telling me were inane, asinine, pointless. But there I was adding my two pennies’ worth, all the time wondering how I could allow myself to trade opinions with people who either couldn’t or wouldn’t construct proper sentences even if they could spell to save their lives.
Me? An English major with two university degrees and countless hours of teaching children how to read and write? How could I stoop to this semi-literate internet banter with strangers I had no chance of bringing around to my point of view and, more pertinently, who didn’t have the education and/or intellect to discuss at the level they were attempting to discuss?
So, I pulled the plug Saturday morning.
To my consternation, the earth didn’t move off its axis. In fact, the color of the leaves outside didn’t change to beetroot red so I had to physically pinch myself to make sure that I was really still alive. I was.
I have now gone back to reading my news off Yahoo, the BBC, Washington Post, and the various formal channels I used to frequent before I allowed myself to sink rather lower than I should have. I was today about to sign on again and make a snide remark about Romney’s 14% tax paid on the $20m he made in 2011 but I then realized that only his wife and death-warmed-up Anne Coulter (that woman has spent enough on Botox to pay off a sizable chunk of California’s public debt) are pretending to buy his argument so there is no point in my adding to the disgusted responses of which there must be millions out there. With or without my two pennies’ worth, that man is going down … and deservedly so. I don’t have to let the world know that I know they know it. Some things are best left unsaid … even on Facebook.
I shall not stay away from Facebook forever if only because it has proved useful for me to communicate with a number of people all over the world quickly. My messages to them pop up on their smartphones instantly, saving me the tedious chore of sending SMS text messages. To shut down completely will thus stymie an obvious avenue of easy, cheap, communication. So, I have given myself until October 1 to reassess.
Call it my Facebook bathroom break, taking a Facebook dump. I shall perhaps also allow myself a thorough colonic irrigation and a lobotomy while I am at it. Now and then one needs such a ‘cleansa.’
When I get back in, my first task must be to sift through my list of “friends” and conduct yet another mass cull. I don’t for the life of me know how I could have 450 friends. 450 friends? That’s outrageous. Anyone I have not ‘talked to’ in the last two or three months, or with the parts below his navel showing, will have to go. So will anyone calling himself James Dean, Fela Kuti or Brenda Fassie . I will not be friends with famous dead people even if I might have admired them at some point.
The list of people requesting to be my friends will have to be pruned as well. Before I went off air, I think I had about 100 people waiting to be my friends that I could have sworn I didn’t know. Some of them confusingly shared the same pictures as professional adult film actors I had seen in various pornographic movies. Now, I know I have an irresistible personality, but why would a porn actor who has never met me want to be my Facebook friend?
But that’s Facebook for you. It’s probably not what whoever coined it had in mind but it certainly does validate the saying that there are no strangers in this world; just friends you haven’t met yet. Or is it ‘strangers who want to be friends with you?‘
I have at least another seven days to find out.