Cold Turkey, Hold the Guilt

I have learned many things in the past ten years of my addiction to facebook. I have recently learned that I wasn’t always addicted to it. It was for fun at first; sharing photos and funny quips with my friends and family… and then it was a daily interaction to find out what everyone was up to. And then it was to keep in touch when I moved and connected at new jobs. And then it was to promote my writing. And by the time I realized I was hooked on making excuses for my addiction, it was too late.
I talked for years about leaving facebook forever. I even made a few half-assed attempts to do so, but I ultimately went back every time. I was a fiend! Not a fiend for likes and shares, but for the interaction with people. Many of my friends travel the world, which I have not been able to do yet. That’s not to say I haven’t been to some beautiful places, but I’m sure I will never see the architecture of Iceland, or the peak of Mount Fuji before I die this time. I just know I won’t, because I’m not going to those places. So, living vicariously through my friends and family, became my drug of choice. It also became an excuse for not actually visiting those friends in real life. Facebook makes it “good enough” to just be connected passively, without carrying the weight.
Even as I type this entry, I am peeking at my facebook messages, but this time, it’s for a different reason: I am actually quitting facebook. This time, for real. I have set an exact time for execution, and hopefully the world will be watching as I disappear. It’s ironic to want to be noticed when you’re leaving, but I am reluctantly leaving a lot of people “behind.” Some have asked me to stay, some have asked why I’m leaving, some have pledged their support, and some have just hit the “sad emoji” reaction button. My value to many causes has not been lost on me, and I will miss being able to open people’s minds and hearts to things that are happening beyond their scope of perception. I have some very dedicated followers, who not only enjoy my writing, but also enjoy the way I point out stupid things that others don’t think to notice. It’s hard to jump from being able to just post a song lyric about how I feel, to having a standard of content to be able to share with my readers. This blog is going to be a lot of work. Right now, I’m an hour and a half from my deadline to post this very piece.
When asked why I’m leaving facebook, I find myself at a loss for rapid explanation. So much good has come from my logging on and reconnecting, but there was also a lot of bad shit that was happening behind the scenes. My information was being used for purposes I was unaware of, some of my “friends” were complaining about me behind my back without understanding what I am really about, and I was leaving a gaping hole in my everyday privacy just by carrying my facebook portal around with me. I also saw a lot of propaganda being passed around and shared, without the poster even thinking about what they were posting. I saw so many of my intelligent friends be ignorant and loud.  I had my pseudonym taken away by facebook officials who wanted to see a photo ID from me, while they let other RIDICULOUS names and nicknames stay. I saw hateful rhetoric being spewed from the mouths of people who (I thought) were good people. I saw facebook – and all of the world’s events, tightly packed therein – tear apart my circle of friends and acquaintances.
Mostly, I just DO NOT NEED it. Not that I need this blog, but I WANT this blog. I want it to be great, and I want to reach people with my experiences, and I want to cut out the memes and propaganda. I want to cut out the videos and articles. I want to cut out the obligation that came with some of my friends. I want to keep the good things, such as my opinion and my unique point of view. I want people to feel my words, and not just see them amongst photos of girls in their underwear, and big fat pictures of trumpy. I don’t want to be screened. I want to be loud. I want to make people uncomfortable, and I want to BE uncomfortable. I want to argue with people who get the message. Real people. I don’t want to be told that something isn’t for me to understand. I want to talk about everything. I want to include everyone who is willing to contribute without trying to keep up appearances. And yes, I want to complain to my heart’s content, without the forced makeover suggestions, courtesy of some fake-ass people who are trying to make an image for themselves as being “Woke.”
The short version: Facebook was always fake. It’s a pacifier for you to suck on, to comfort you, while you are being sold. That’s all it is. And the more we try to tiptoe around things, and try not to ruffle feathers, the less human we become. We have to own what we say, and stand confidently behind it, and if the opportunity to learn something comes along, we always have the freedom to change our minds. That’s what makes being a self-aware, singular human so great. Don’t be the coward who just agrees because someone bullied them into thinking their ideologies were better. Don’t be a facebook profile. Don’t let technology shape who you are.
In the past 50 years, we have seen technology come a long way. From when we started carrying our phones in our pockets, to carrying our entire computer on our person, to having a robot control every aspect of our lives, we have only devolved as people. We let the car control our fate, instead of paying attention and being careful. We let the computer and phone supply us with those good feelings of being in love, or the pride in our hard work. We attach those feelings to the phone, because it’s the phone that is present with you while your brain is releasing that dopamine. We let the computer take over, to make up for our fears of coming up short. How lazy do you have to be, to not know when your own family’s birthdays are, without having to rely on a prompt from the computer? Why is it more convenient to put all of your most vital information – credit cards, medical issues, addresses, phone numbers, the things that could kill you, the info about where you work and worship, your child’s schedule – in one, easy to find location? What would you do, if all of that information and access suddenly became unavailable to you? When we allow computers and robots to run our lives, down to the most menial task, we allow ourselves to become dependent on them. We take the task off our own responsibility, thinking we’re doing ourselves a favor, but we’re really allowing our brains to die. We’re no longer priming ourselves to be responsible or accountable for what we do, and who we are. We experience our child’s most important moments through the screen of a smartphone. We tell ourselves we’re “documenting” but we’re not even retaining the actual memory.
Not all technology is bad, so save those comments for later. I just want to eliminate the poisonous technology that is doing more harm than good. I want to get back to being held responsible for *seeing* my friends, instead of just catching up on what they’ve been up to recently. I want to know that someone’s birthday is coming up, because I cared enough about them to commit it to memory, and then I want to tell them “Happy Birthday” with my voice. I want to reach people without organizing a facebook event. I want to go out and experience life for the prizes it provides, when we rely on being a human. I want to have a real personality, that is not dictated by what people *choose* to see. I want my progress in life to be real, not just a page on an app.
T- minus 24 hours and counting…

-jg

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