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

FOMO, MOFO

For those of you who may not be hip to the new lingo, FOMO is just Fear Of Missing Out. We have all felt it, whether on a minimal scale or a grand scale, myself included. I remember back when Matt and I first started dating, he was still in his band, and I had to miss a lot of his shows because I couldn’t find a babysitter, and it would drive me crazy to know that everyone else was there watching him perform. Everyone except for me. I knew what the songs were, and I knew pretty much everyone who was going to be there, but something made me feel resentful about them enjoying themselves.
That’s FOMO.
And that’s what we face when we make a leap like social media abandonment. Closing facebook means you don’t get to hear what your friends are up to, as they live spontaneous moments of their lives. It’s not as easy as emailing your friends and family every day, asking if they did anything cool or noteworthy, or if they had a frustrating experience that needs to be talked about, or if they have any photos they feel like sharing. Facebook is responsible for the reunion of old friends, the discovery of family, the assembly of mass groups, and the spreading of knowledge we may not otherwise have access to. I’ve been to surprise birthday parties that were organized on facebook. I met someone that made a huge difference in my life, on facebook. Hell, I met Matt on facebook. We tether memories to facebook, and expect that each day we will be able to relive old memories from years prior. It’s comforting, because we expect that they will always be there.
So when we leave facebook, the FOMO turns on. We lose the connection to friends. We lose the stream of knowledge that flows between people. We lose the comfort of our memories. We lose the ability to allow facebook to handle birthdays and graduations and concerts and gatherings. We lose our private audience. We miss out on memes, trending topics, and the opinions of others. We miss out.
It’s a sick, sick thing. It’s like a drug, and we think we need to go back, so we don’t completely delete our account; we just deactivate it for awhile. The fact that it’s even an option to do that, is so fucked up, because it shows that they KNOW it’s an addiction, and we’ll be back! If they were smart, they would make the initial account free, and then charge to reactivate if you deactivate at any time. Just like a drug dealer.
I am currently transitioning away from facebook, which is truthfully a FOMO moment for me. I don’t have phone numbers or email addresses for many of my friends, and most of them may as well be on another planet, since I live way out in the sticks. I don’t want to miss my friends. I also live half the country away from my family, so it’s hard to convince myself that I’m not missing out. I have family I have only seen on facebook.
Life is short, and I hope I am able to maintain relationships with people I’m close to, even without facebook. I went ten years without speaking to people I once considered my best friends… and then I got facebook, and spent ten years becoming reconnected to them. I hope the next ten years is full of real-life visits with those friends, experiencing their laughs and smiles, smelling them, which sounds weird, but I’m a smell person. I’m not going to sniff you, or anything, but I can smell you. I smell you. I want to smell you in real-life.

-jg

I’m “Irreplaceable”

I’m intrigued by the reactions some of my friends are having, regarding the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook profiling scandal. I remember not so long ago, Me and Matt were talking to people about it being a current event that they should pay attention to, and a lot of our friends and family told us (to our faces, as well as our backs) that we were conspiracy theorists, and tinfoil hats blah blah blah, and “they’re just for fun, let people have fun.”
Now that it’s an open social media thing, people are talking about it as if they’re trying to educate me on the gravity of the situation, when a year ago, they were the ones telling me that I “look too deeply into things” and that “not everything is a conspiracy.”
Ahhh, the opinions.
I’m not saying it’s wrong, but I don’t understand why people find it so entertaining to put their most personal details about who they are into a generator that “might be fun.” Any info I feed into a generator is going to be all over the place, and in no way reflective of my true answer, because I like to shake things up. I try not to be accurately catalogued, if I have to be catalogued at all. Even still, I was targeted, and I was aware of what was happening!
If you choose to live in blissful ignorance, that is fine with me, not that you need my permission, but don’t pretend to be awake all of a sudden. It’s cringey. It looks weird. I’m glad you’re concerned all of a sudden, but you’re not really going to be able to do anything about it now. Your privacy has been breached, your data has been sold, and nobody is trying to give it back to you. You’re statistics now. But at least you know which Beyonce song is your power theme!

-jg

Tot Finder Gonna Find You

There is too much.
Too much to pay attention to.
Too much capable of distracting you from what you were paying attention to.
Prioritize all you like- something is going to interrupt it.
There’s so much happening. To you, to people you love, to other people you’ve never met, others you’ll never meet. 
There is too much information, coming from all directions. There is information you want, which is not always easy to find. It’s tricky to pick through the haystack, to find what is real.
The information you don’t want, is impossible *not* to find.
There is so much deceit. How do you know what is real? How are we to distinguish between what is a lie, and what is just perpetuation of incorrect “facts”? Left unchecked, that game of telephone can have serious repercussions.
My dad once told me that the “guy on the Tot Finder sticker” would come and find me in the night, if I was bad, and he would know where to find me, because the sticker was on my window.
There is too much blissful ignorance. There is too much angry ignorance. There are too many people who are right.
There are too many things to pay attention to.
Easy access to “All The Information” is a poison injection, because a good majority of that information is misinformation.
There is too little research.
Too little empathy.
Too little self-reflection.
Too little interest in the human condition.
Too little realization that we can choose what to believe, and discuss our beliefs with others, but we can also choose to ask questions about what we believe.
There is too little question asking. What did you read/hear? When was it published/said? Who said it? How did they come to this conclusion? Why is this meaningful to you? Can I find out if this is legit or not? Should I spread this information? Will I sound insensitive or exclusionary or reductive? Does it benefit anyone, to spread this information? Could there be an agenda behind it, where the validity would come into question?
There are so many questions.
There are too many statements.
There has been so much advancement in communication and research, that the truth is indistinguishable from fiction.
We are literally living in a science fiction novel.
Which came first: the science fiction, or the dystopian reality?
Or did the novel serve as a guidebook for what “could work”?
What happens beyond the novel?
What happens after the dystopia has found its end? What happens to the society after that? Will we see it? Will our love for advancement be our own end?
There are so many questions I have.
Is it ironic that I’m posting them on social media?
Like and share, or the guy from the Tot Finder sticker will come and kidnap you in the night.

-jg

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