30 seconds ago, I held that iOS Facebook icon until it started trembling in fear. (Really, it did exactly this… I swear!) A nanosecond later, I have pressed that small black X in the corner. I soon do the same to its sibling to the left, Twitter. Later today I will put a link to this post on both sites, just so my folks aren’t left with the idea that I was hit by a bus, or mangled in some kind of gnarly cheese grater incident.
While I often bemoan the tedious nature of sites like Facebook, I am, for the most part, full of crap. I enjoy these services. More accurately: I adore them. While I’m not sharp enough to say funny things in real life, Facebook affords me adequate time to think about quips, before posting them. Sometimes, I can pull off “clever” pretty darned well; and when I do, it’s a bloody delight.
My problem is that I like Facebook and Twitter a little too much. I adore the little pellets of affirmation they dispense, be they in the form of likes, comments, or cheeky rebukes. I’m somehow happier when I stir up a little friendly banter, and almost disappointed when my sub 140 character wisecracks don’t warrant a single re-tweet. When my follower/friend count goes down, I even fret that I may have somehow, unwittingly, offended someone.
You may wonder if I’m being facetious; I shamefully admit that nothing could be further from the truth.
It gets worse than the garden variety social media adulation, though. Toss in Google Real Time Analytics, and folks like me are fucked beyond any conceivable explanation. For those unfamiliar with the service, Real Time provides a running play-by-play of every visitor coming and going to posts like this. Those smarty-pants Googsters even go so far as to color-code the experience, with a halo around the visitor count as it shrinks/expands. (Green halo, good; red halo, bad.)
I know what you’re thinking, and, yes, I am watching you. And I’m awfully grateful that you haven’t left yet. Stick around… Please… I don’t know what I’ll do if you go. Honestly, it could be bad.
As one might imagine, all of this becomes rather time consuming. Between trying to think of smart things to say; using my hunt-and-peck method to type them out; realizing that my grammar is “whack” and in need of adjustment; and then scratching my head to come up with sufficiently snarky/glib/playful retorts. Oh, it can all prove quite a commitment.
Worse yet, I’ve found myself in the middle of some funny, personal, even inspiring moments thinking, “this would make a great tweet.” It’s at these times that I wonder just where it all went so wrong. Trading the best moments in life for a digital “thumbs-up” seems like the very description of lunacy.
Perhaps all of this is simply indicative of us evolving as a species. Maybe we’ve become increasingly immune to the puny addictions of generations past… like alcohol, sex, and heroin. (Of these three, I’ve tried two, and could quite readily teeter over to the addiction side in both instances.) Regardless, I am an addict. I crave those likes, get a rush from online tit-for-tat, and find myself hoping for validation from those photos of dinner I just uploaded. Yes, I’ve hit rock-bottom.
There may be no twelve-step program for my particular affliction, therefore, I must leave. Well, sort of. I’m not moving my things out of my Facebook flat or my Twitter pied-à-terre. I just won’t be showing up as much any more. I’m not so self-deluding to think I’ll leave it forever; in fact, I might not even make it a week.
I’m not approaching this in a dogmatic fashion. I don’t have an axe to grind, bone to pick, nor protest I wish to attend. In fact, it’s not like I intend to avoid the site completely. It’s just that I want it to become an occasional visit, for fun, instead of something that’s stitched into every part of my day. Perhaps more like porn, which—at least in my case—knows its place.
I like social media and I think it’s useful. I like doing things more, though. My hope is that in not posting status updates three times a day, I might take in more of what’s actually going on around me. (You know; in the non-digital sense.)