I just deleted my Facebook account.
Six years of posting, reading, commenting, liking. I wonder how much money Facebook made from the content I posted. I don't want to know, it would make me upset, I think. Especially when I realize how many books I could have written if I had never logged on.
Facebook is the latest in many historical attempts to keep us busy while someone else pockets the money. It's not hard to do, really. The movie industry figured that out a long time ago. But the sheer glee that accompanies the postings is just astonishing. People post pictures of their children, cats, and dinners, without realizing that by doing so they are giving someone else the profits of their own labor. It's capitalism at its finest and we are all taught to believe it is the way it should be. After all, Facebook gives us a free space to express our opinions - except when Facebook doesn't agree with what have to say and it happens more frequently than anyone could possibly think. It's mind control at its ugliest, although it looks so very pretty on the outside.
Facebook creates an alternative reality, one in which everything looks beautiful and you appear to have perfect control. Don't like a friend? Unfriend and get another one. Don't like what someone says? Tell them loudly and with as much vitriol as you can possibly muster. Don't like someone's tone? Tell them and lecture them on the great virtues of your patriarchal morality. Why should you care? It's not as if you need to ever see them face-to-face.
No wonder then that so many people get addicted to Facebook.
The secret is the removal of actual physical relationships. In the virtual world you don't have to engage if you don't want to. You can always log off when you're tired. There are thousands of people to talk to, not just one. You don't have to maintain relationships, you can always get a new one. Real people are difficult, they get in your face, they demand things, they ask you to give up things. None of that happens in Facebook. It's always pretty. Why would you want to fight with your spouse when you can get all the love and appreciation from strangers?
But there is one thing Facebook cannot do. It cannot give you human touch. It cannot give you a person who smiles when she sees you. It cannot give you real life experiences. It can only give you the illusion of life lived together, but this life is lived separately, far away. It mutes the conversation, it removes the real voices of real people. It's a silent space where letters float in the air and we catch the ones we can. It's not real.
Life after Facebook is one of learning to find real people again, create real connections. And it's not hard. All you really need to do is smile and say hello the way you used to do on Facebook, but this time you actually get to look into the eyes of the person you're talking to instead of gazing into a picture. And it makes all the difference.