It’s me again. Drew. I’m sure you remember me, I was logged into you about 10 minutes ago, browsing memes of funny cats. Prior to that, I spent two hours on your site arguing with some conspiracy nut over whether the Boston Marathon bombings were an Illuminati False-Flag event, meant to lure us further into the government’s evil socialist grasp. And yes, that was me “Liking” my friend’s photo of her lunch as well. Guilty as charged.
It seems like I’ve been giving you a good amount of my time lately. More than I thought I would. I find myself perusing your posts at work, when I should be well, working. Sometimes, you send me notifications late at night while I’m trying to tune out the day and drift off to sleep. I find myself sleepily reaching across my nightstand and grabbing my iPhone to satisfy my curiosity, only to realize that you just updated me that my friend Joe has just checked in at Hooters. It seems to me you may be coming off a little..what’s the word.. clingy. I’m sure you can see where I am going with this.
It’s not you, it’s me.
Please understand a little bit about my history here. I’m a gen-X’er…a child of the 80’s and 90’s. I grew into an adult with the internet. We’ve been through thick and thin together, you know? Back in the late 90’s, I fell into chatting. I remember spending hours online, back when my ISP actually charged me for the time I was logged in. I would chat with people around the world. For someone who was a little on the shy side and socially awkward, the internet allowed me to develop friendships and relationships that would have been difficult in real life. For better or for worse, I was hooked. Later, in the 2000’s, I discovered blogging. This wonderful new social platform allowed me to write, something that I have always loved to do but never seriously committed myself to. Over two or three years, I developed a nice following on a liberal leaning political blog. Like many fads in my life, however, it faded with time.
I met Myspace in 2006. She was new and exciting. She allowed me to actually share my thoughts and life experiences with friends and acquaintances. I was rewarded with feedback. While she was young, hip and sassy, she had the ability to get me into trouble. I lost good friends because of her. Over time, I slowly realized she really wasn’t right for me. It was time to move on.
Then I met you.
At first, I just glanced. You didn’t seem that interesting. Your feed was boring. Your layout was mundane. I know it’s horrible of me to compare, but unlike MySpace, I couldn’t customize your pages and change you into something I wanted you to be. When I visited you, I felt like I was given the wrong address to a party. Where was everyone? Where were my friends? Where were my peers and confidants? THIS is supposed to be the NEW media?
But I stayed. I vowed to give us a chance. Over time, you grew on me. My friends came around and I developed a social network with like minded people around the world. It was an amazing time. My feed ran like an endless river of information. I was constantly aware of what friends were eating, where my family was shopping and what my weird co-worker was listening to.
To be honest, I must confess that I had a very short lived fling with Twitter while I was still using you. I know, I know. That’s pretty low of me, but I must emphasize it was very short lived. Twitter, she seemed just way too flighty and superficial for me. I promise. I never really loved her like I loved you. I just appreciated the quickies.
Despite my short indiscretion with Twitter, I kept you around. You introduced me to some of your interesting friends, like the always humorous George Takei. Through you, I discovered new music and movies. You helped me plan trips and meet ups with fellow music fans. I made long lasting friendships and even met the love of my life. For that, I am forever grateful to you.
But you have to understand something. For as sweet as you may seem, you deliver me a slow poison. I find myself getting needlessly upset at people I don’t know, simply because I don’t care for their opinions. Worse, I find myself sometimes using your pages to air out views that may alienate and even hurt people that I care about, including members of my own family. How can I expect those around me to respect my thoughts and opinions if I don’t make an effort to do the same with them? I know. It’s crazy, right?
On top of all of that, I’ve found that you encourage trolling. I remember during science class as a kid, we once learned about these rats that scientists were using in an experiment to test the psychological phenomenon of addiction. They hooked these crazy electrodes to the rats brains that caused them to sense pleasure every time they pressed a button with their nose. Of course, like any 14 year old boy with a Playboy and a box of tissues, the damn rats kept pushing that button over and over. The pleasure was their feedback for pushing the button.
Like those rats, I find myself trolling for the most part, for feedback, whether it be positive or negative. I’ve joined political discussion groups simply with the forethought of engaging in meaningful dialog, but the results are never as simple as that. More often than not, I find myself becoming offended by stupidity. I devolve, say stupid things, get angry, use curse words. I forget the “sensible, intelligent and caring” Drew and become this angry old man with a myopic viewpoint and the inability to be impartial. You bring out the ugly in me, Facebook.
The thing is, I realize it isn’t just me that you do this to. I see it in friends. I see it in the way that people post insane memes that have no basis in reality. I see it in the way that social media is dividing us more and more. I see it in the way you are shortening our collective attention spans. I see it in the way you suck away our time like a plastic surgeon vacuums away cellulite.
And what do I get in return?
Time is short. We have a fixed number of years, days, hours, minutes and seconds to live out our hopes and dreams. Looking back over the past few years, I’m appalled at the number of those hours I’ve committed to you.
So how long have we been together? Four years or so?
That’s about long enough.
I wish you only the best,
P.S. Okay, reading this over a few times, I realize that I may be jumping the gun here. I’m very sorry. Maybe we I just need a brief break to work things out in my head. Like I said, it’s me not you.
Oh, who am I kidding… I WISH I KNEW HOW TO QUIT YOU!
Talk to you tomorrow morning. Hopefully, you’ll have some new cat pictures for me.