Thursday, September 27, 2007

Breaking Up With Facebook for a Week, Part 2

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

an experiment, continued:

Day 4 without Facebook. My noble purge continues. I'm like Gandhi with a mouse.

The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Newsweek, Jet, and Ladies Home Journal have all not interviewed me about my project. But no matter. This is the true story of a twenty-two year old college grad re-learning life without Facebook...for a week. In 2007.


- Project beings in earnest. I uncheck my Facebook privacy settings so I won't get notifications of any wall posts, messages, or friend requests.
- I log-out. Good-bye, Facebook.
- I chat with my friend Adam. We reminisce about this dude we knew in high school. "Dude" is an appropriate tag because said person had a dog named Marley and a band called the Funkadelic Pentagon. What's this dude doing now? To find out, I quickly reach for the keyboard before realizing...uh-oh. I'm an unconscious click away from breaking the pledge I've made hours ago.

An invisible singe shoots through my fingertips. This Facebook fasting might be harder than I thought.


- A week away from Facebook means nothing to my friend Michael, for he's spent more than a year away from the site. He was one of the site's early adopters in spring 2004, only to drop it when it became a phenomenon. "Come back to Facebook," I used to tell him. "You're missing out on connecting to people, and you're not proving a point by rebelling. Bite the bullet already."

As you might expect, he doesn't think much of my experiment: "I'm smirking in a rather self-righteous manner right now," he tells me. But my response is a self-justification that surprises even myself: "Facebook's like a girlfriend who I've been spending too much time with," I say, "so I need to take a break and spend time with my friends. But I'll come back to her."

I then tell Michael he ought to start dating Facebook. He declines.

Analogy taken too far? Maybe.

- Where my suddenly-empty Facebook minutes go:

* AOL Instant Messenger (You might say that for me to use AIM goes against the wisdom of my Facebook fasting. To that argument I say au contraire, sir. AIM is more intimate and "connected" than Facebook. Really.

Through instant messenger, we engage in "instant" communication, and if we don't get replies to our messages, we're pointedly being snubbed. On the other hand, through Facebook we write a wall message and know that a response is not socially required. And even if we do get a response, it's not quite "instant."

As we get more technological options through which to communicate, are we in turn communicating less and less intimately? If Facebook is less intimate than AIM, which is less intimate than the telephone, which is less intimate than in-person communication, where does that leave us? The casual kick of Facebook might suit the relationships we have with some of our acquaintances just fine, but how about when the lines get blurry? Will we always resort to the path of least resistance, i.e. the path with the least intimacy? Is that necessarily a good thing? How much fun are rhetorical questions?

I'll stop.)

* Reading (I sink into Ken Kalfus' "A Disorder Peculiar to the Country." Good book.)

* The Buzz Box Infomercial (1:30am. My parents' tv lounge. The house is asleep but I'm not. I am awake and I am smiling. The reason? Sugar Ray's Mark McGrath and a blonde-streaked Entertainment Tonight-looking woman are trying to sell me every single song that defined my middle school and high school experience. Wow. Marcy Playground "Sex and Candy"? The Mighty Mighty Bosstones "The Impression that I Get?" Crazy Town "Butterfly?" Semisonic "Closing Time?" Nostalgia overload. I need this Buzz Box.

Who am I kidding? I'm not buying the Buzz Box; I have most of its songs already downloaded. But... I am eagerly waiting for Mark McGrath's sidekick to ask him about the inclusion of Sugar Ray's "Fly" and "Every Morning" on the Buzz Box. Will McGrath be that's-right! snarky or falsey modest? On another note, what happened to this guy's career? Why's he hosting this overlit informercial? Why is he hosting Extra? Entertainment Weekly answered this question two years ago. Thanks EW.

Anyway, McGrath follows the script and robotically states that he's "honored" to be included in the Buzz Box. I'm slightly disappointed, but I don't know why.)


- More of the same, except with trips into the exotic world beyond my parents' house: Borders. Book Traders. Chilie's Bar and Grill. Facebook cannot give me a delicious peppercorn burger with a cold Corona. No, it cannot.


- Do I miss Facebook? Not especially. If anything, I've been feeling more grounded and more connected with my friends, whether it be through AIM or the telephone or the old-fashioned face-to-face thing.

But...come Sunday...will I feel antsy to break the Facebook fast? Will I unabashedly return to my old click-click-click routine?

In the words of Sugar Ray, "Shut the door, babe, don't say a word."

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3



Michael said...

over 2 years...get your facts straight.

Anonymous said...

I think we may have to put you in a rehab facility, Alex. Wonder if they have a "special place" for internet addicts?


Vinita said...

I really am struggling with this. I'm going to start journaling about this the way I journaled about healthy weight loss last year. That was successful. I think even fifteen minutes on Facebook is an embarassing waste of time when I could have done something on my to-do list.