Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I Have Committed Digital Suicide

Well, sort of. Last night, I digitally offed myself from both my Twitter and Facebook accounts. Ever since social networking took off, I've heard opponents of it cite various reasons as to why they don't utilize it: it cheapens relationships ("digital" relationships don't fulfill you like real-life relationships do), it's not cognitively fulfilling (let's face it, it doesn't take a whole lot of brain power to read a status update that says, "OMG Buffy marathon is on!"), and it's the first step down a slippery slope that will eventually lead to an Orwellian society a la 1984. For me, those factors played but minor roles in my decision to deactivate my accounts. The thing that made me quit cold turkey? It's all a bunch of bullshit.

Seriously. It's bullshit. Advocates of social networking say that it helps you reconnect with long-lost friends and family members. Bullshit. The cold, hard, truth is that it helps you stalk people with whom you used to go to high school because you want to see who turned out fat or bald before the ten-year reunion rolls around. Most of my Facebook "friends" were people whose lives I was curious about. I "reconnected" with high school classmates because I wanted to see what they looked like now or if they were pregnant, not because I was genuinely hoping to rekindle old friendships. Hell, I wasn't friends with most of them in high school! Why would I be friends with them now? The ones I honestly cared about keeping in touch with after we graduated I have. And you know how many that was? Two. Out of the entire Taylor County High School class of 2002 that was just shy of 200 people. Same thing goes for college classmates. Before I deactivated my Facebook account, I had 105 friends. Out of that amount, the people who I considered my actual friends numbered around 20 or so. The rest were people I wanted to digitally spy on.

Advocates of social networking say that sites like Twitter and Facebook can help you promote your blog, your business or your cause. Bullshit. Ever since promoting this blog, my Steve Perry blog and my Examiner stories on those sites, I saw no explosion in site visitors. To date, I've earned a whopping $7 on, an amount I probably would have earned regardless of whether I posted a link to Twitter or not. And I've had that account since spring of this year. Out of all three, my Steve Perry blog gets the most visitors, but I don't think it's because I shared it on Facebook. Judging from the reader emails I get, people either hear about it via word of mouth or they stumble across it as a result of a Google search. Facebook and Twitter played very minuscule roles, if they were even involved at all.

Advocates of social networking seem to ignore this fact, but most of the information on Facebook and Twitter is a bunch of mundane bullshit. Logging on and seeing status updates that were a bunch of emo song lyrics, or that were cryptic and said something along the lines of, "SOME people need to check themselves before they open their mouths" were starting to take its toll on me. I started to actually hate people and their exhibitionism, and what was worse was that I was no better. I figured that if most of what people posted online was frivolous and boring, I was no exception.

Advocates of social networking also seem to ignore the fact that reading through mundane bullshit and creeping on strangers' profiles day after day isn't fulfilling. My life wasn't enriched after I saw a friend of a friend's wedding picture or someone commented on a photo I uploaded. It wasn't enriched when someone happened to change their status to lyrics from a Passion Pit song. I didn't see anything spectacular on an old high school classmate's profile. Facebook and Twitter didn't add anything to my life, so I sure as hell am not losing anything by quitting them. For the past six years, I've wasted countless hours on a task that ultimately didn't benefit me in any way, and I'm tired of it. I'm about to embark on a new year, and it's time I got off my lazy ass and worked harder on making and maintaining real world friendships instead of letting a computer do it for me. It's time I finally buckled down and organized my bank statements and bills instead of getting distracted by Facebook. It's time I finally proof-read my manuscript instead of reading someone's "Note" about their 15 favorite albums. It's time I started doing something to enrich my life and well-being.

My online presence isn't gone for good. I'm done with Facebook and Twitter, but I'll still be writing for and keeping up with my blogs. I still have email and Gchat and Google Reader. I still have my BlackBerry. Most importantly, I have the phone numbers and email addresses of people who are actually my friends, and they have mine. Maybe now I can devote more time to having actual conversations with them instead of finding out information on a profile. Maybe now I can get back to being real.

Edit: I have since re-opened both my Facebook and Twitter accounts. Yeah, I'm a hypocrite, blah blah blah.

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