I’m On My Third Facebook

I was happiest when I wasn’t on one at all.

On October 17, I sold my soul to Facebook. Again.

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Back in May, I clicked the button to permanently delete my Facebook account, and in June, it was gone. (As gone as I could rely on, anyway, because I don’t trust Facebook to have deleted my information, but there was nothing more I knew to do.)

It felt freeing.

If you’ve watched the first season of You on Netflix, then you’ve probably heard Beck tell Blythe that she found a piece of Blythe’s writing illuminating enough to tweet. And then Blythe’s response:

“Social media — it’s like the next great genocide.”

That’s kind of how I feel about Facebook.

I didn’t feel that way when I first joined up in 2009. I was a freshman in high school, and everybody was on social media: MySpace, Facebook, and other sites that I can’t remember the names of, and they weren’t quite as big as those two, anyway.

Back then, joining Facebook felt like a whole new world opened up. It was easy to connect with my school friends outside of school, which was hard because I lived outside of the district I attended, and didn’t get my license until I was 17.

Back then, Facebook still felt like a social media network — a way of connecting with people, instead of the black hole of notifications and targeted ads that it feels like today.

While Facebook might still do what it was designed to do, it no longer is what it was designed to be.

When I worked at the gym, I had a lot of free time on my hands. I spent most of that free time on this site, usually reading articles and sometimes writing them. But every time I clicked over to Facebook, because I was bored or to see if I had any notifications or because it was there or — whatever — it felt like a drain on my soul.

Deactivating it wouldn’t be enough. I’d done that before, and it was always there, lurking, waiting to reel me back in — and reactivating is as simple as just logging into the account.

No. If I wanted to make an impact on myself, I had to delete it entirely.

After thinking about it for a few days, and posting a message to let my “friends” know, I deleted it in mid-May, and my mid-June, the account no longer existed in any form that I knew how to recover.

It was enough. It was more than enough — and, happily, I moved on without looking back.

Until October.

The account I deleted was my second, not my first. I miss the original account, my first, from high school, and I initially created a second one because I wanted a fresh start. How stupid that was, simply because there are no fresh starts when it comes to an online presence. While life has fresh starts, even those have their limits — you can’t simply erase and then create a new life to replace the old one, and I quickly regretted trying to do that with Facebook. I missed the original, and I still do. If I had to pick between the three accounts now, I would still have that one, and that would be the one I’d use for work.

Because that was the entire reason I felt the need to get back on Facebook — for work.

It turns out that in a community like Brazoria County — 300,000+ residents, and still pretty small in the grand scheme of things — Facebook is pretty useful for getting in touch with people for work. Because everyone has one.

So, on my third day of work, I gave in and created my third — and final, because I won’t be deleting this one only to have to eventually make a fourth—Facebook account.

It’s proven useful. But it’s also proven distracting, disillusioning, and I get so annoyed by the targeted ads because I don’t know how much more information this company is collecting on me, or what they plan to use it for.

Facebook fosters a regression in connection, too.

The reason I so quickly became disillusioned with Snapchat back when it was still new was because my best friend at the time was Snapchatting me more than she was texting me, and Snapchat absolutely felt like a regression in connection. It’s taken me a lot longer to realize it, but for the most part, Facebook fosters a regression in connection, too.

Birthday wishes are nice, sure, but they don’t mean anything. You don’t even have to be aware that it’s Somebody’s birthday because Facebook tells you as soon as you click over to the news feed.

Memes shared on each other’s pages are funny. But after a while, they’re unoriginal. Chain messages aren’t special, particularly when they’re not specifically tailored to any of the dozen people you’re forwarding them to.

While Facebook might still do what it was designed to do, it no longer is what it was designed to be.

I find myself opening the app even more lately, and judging by the “games” everyone is posting as status updates and mentions (complaints) of the coronavirus, I’m not the only one. I think a lot of people are using Facebook to find some form of connection and relief in this time of social distancing and bad news.

It is good for that, maybe. For now. But this too shall pass, and Facebook will be the same as it has been — not what it was designed to be.

I like to write things that make people uncomfortable.

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