Monday, August 13, 2012

Ninety days off the wall

Last night, after a fit of -- well, I'm not sure what kind of fit it was, but it was definitely a fit -- I vowed to stay off of my Facebook wall for the duration of the presidential race.

I had spent a good share of the weekend fuming about and/or responding to this post or that, mostly having to do with politics. Finally, the obvious occurred to me: "Roger," I thought (I call myself Roger when I'm talking to myself without actually speaking), "you are an idiot." The epiphany came after I posted a particularly long and wonky email about healthcare and realized that nobody would be influenced by it in the least. Idiot.

My Facebook debates clearly weren't changing any hearts and minds, and I was using up precious time from my life that I would never get back. I could, it occurred to me, use this time far more productively, like taking a nap or hitting myself repeatedly with a hammer.

I immediately felt better. Admittedly, I dreamed (this is true) that I suddenly and inexplicably had no friends. My subconscious was clearly telling me that I'd made the right decision, in that strange way our subconscious works.

I have thought from the start that Facebook had dramatically over-priced its IPO at $38. Now that it's at close to $20 (and some "experts" think it'll eventually settle in at $13), I'm not surprised. In fact, I suspect that, if it finds one at all, Facebook's sustainable business model will be markedly different than the Facebook of today. Assuming I don't go into some kind of Facebook funk, this could be the beginning of the end for me on Facebook. At the very least, to paraphrase Churchill, it's the end of the beginning. I wonder how many others have already arrived -- or will soon enough -- at the same conclusion. Will Facebook eventually become a place where crazy people talk to each other?

I'm not going completely cold turkey. I have a couple of groups on Facebook I want to maintain -- one for "Pretty Pictures" and one called "Friends of Yellowstone National Park." I'll also receive and send private messages and I'll assist in keeping the Post Register's Facebook page up to date. I simply won't be reading or posting on my main wall, where all of the political stuff goes on.

There's a lot of mindless politicking going on -- nothing particularly new about that -- but Facebook opens a big window onto that world. It is not pretty. Despite my blocking several dozen particularly wacky and ignorant people, reading Facebook had become a descent into a digital inferno not even Dante could have conjured. It's less that many participants are stupid. Worse, there's a self-imposed ignorance that displays itself in full graphical glory. To turn Howard Beale right on his head, "I'm mad as hell and I can't take it any more."

I imagine a world before Facebook. In this recollection, I was happy, productive, blissfully unaware of much of the craziness in the the midst of which I must function, even though plenty of it oozes onto the pages of the newspaper I publish. That, I realize, is enough for me, at the very least until this current election cycle has run its course and some of the crazies are put back to bed for a nice, quiet rest. I rather hope that by that time I will have detoxified from Facebook and have the will to stay away for good.

1 comment:

  1. My misanthropy makes Facebook a perfect forum. I'm reminded daily why I don't care for most people in general.

    I believe those who genuinely enjoy other people would be distressed by the vast amount of ugliness evident on FB.

    I do want to say that you are wrong if you believe nobody is influenced in the least by the things you write...but it probably matters where you choose to share those thoughts, as to how many reasonable people will be there to be reading them.