I believe that sometime in the future, and by future I mean in a few months, it will become a rite of passage for my generation to give up on Facebook. To be honest, Facebook does nothing for me anymore except make me feel like that party I wasn’t invited to in high school is still going on and everyone keeps telling me how fun it is.
Other than making me feel like I’m not having as good a time as I should be, it tells me way too many personal things about the people I am ‘friends’ with. Nearly everything in my news feed is an update on the life of someone who isn’t actually a part of mine anymore. For some reason, we both are continuing to hold onto whatever frail connection there is between us by showing the world that we continue to be ‘friends’. I am not friends with you yet I know all these personal things about you because for some reason it is your duty to post about EVERYTHING that is happening from one minute to the next when in reality those who would want to know it should theoretically be there for those moments anyway.
I do have to say that I post occasionally and it is built into my psyche that the more comments or likes I get are somehow connected to whether or not the photo was the right balance between good and hipster-like unflattering or if the post was ironically witty enough but sometimes I get tired of that. Why should I care if an unseen panel of Facebook judges approves or disapproves of my latest photo that I think is brilliant because my girlfriend took it?
But we still do it, don’t we? We post and we post because we’re lonely in our real worlds. Our virtual friends somehow fill the void that’s there because it seems as if nobody really wants to spend time with us outside the 5 seconds it takes to review and like a post. This works for now because we’re busy most of the time and having no friends only occasionally creeps up on us when we have downtime or really want to go to a new bar. But most of the time we’re okay. Deep down, we know it’s just part of a transitional phase out of school and we’re in a new town or at a new job and it takes time to make friends. It definitely takes more time now than it did in college where a built-in community waited for any high school outcast. But still, hope is there because we did have friends before, we were charming enough to sway people to hang out with us so we can do it again. So we’re hopeful and patient.
That is, until we go on Facebook again. The intention is harmless enough, hey we posted a new picture this morning and we just want to see if anyone noticed. And a few did. We take great joy in clicking on that full notifications tab and are pleasantly surprised when very few are game invitations. But then tragedy strikes. We get stuck in our news feed. We get more depressed with each scroll as it reveals yet another person from our past having more fun. More successful, less single, on and on until we are absolutely convinced that nearly everyone we know is happier than we are. There is no time to make the realization that pictures only tell one side of the story before we’re wallowing in a puddle of self-pity and promising ourselves that starting tomorrow we get off the internet and get out and have fun and then get back on the internet and tell everyone about it in the hopes of making them jealous and miserable.
But it doesn’t happen because we have work to do. We have class. We have the gym, we’re trying to lose 5 pounds. And before we know it we’re back in the loop that is our news feed again, wondering why this competition has to exist. And why does it? Its like we’re forever locked in that awful metaphor of a dodgeball game we were forced to play in middle school. We’re not always picked last but if we are, we’re wishing others will be next time. We find ourselves actually hoping that people are miserable so we can seem like the queen or king bee on a virtual space where we don’t actually see half the people we’re friends with anyway.
One solution that we never seem to consider is to get rid of it all together. There are few of us that will delete this page that knows so much about us, that has followed us through the awkward first pictures of us in our dorm room, the obligatory bad-decision shots showing us with some kind of alcoholic beverage that we later had to delete in fear of a future boss finding us irresponsible. This shrine of our college days exists for a reason, we say. It is a dedication to those hung over days, late nights, first times and everything else that happened as if we don’t think we’d remember otherwise. Every time we think its time to say goodbye to this little timeline, nostalgia hits us hard making it impossible to delete that one picture with that person we met in the bar that one time, let alone the whole page.
So what do we do? We grow older. Our pictures go from shots at the bar to weddings and babies and our posts become less and less relevant to the youngest generation that is on Facebook. Our friends that are still in college become the ‘kids’ and we joke with people our own age about how little they know and how naïve their posts are, as if we know any better. We pave the road for generations below us, because lets face it, Facebook is our baby. We made it huge to the point of our parents joining as well as our 8 year-old cousins, so how could we abandon it now?
So we wait for someone else to take the lead, someone else to follow when they delete their page. What we don’t realize is that the first person will have to be one of us. It is the rite of passage of our generation so how could we wait for anyone else to do it for us?