To the precious, constant whims of my Facebook account:
I am a member of a small generation that came to understand itself through the lens of social internet use, propelled to establish a sense of individuality by online chat, uploading photos and captioning moments of our daily lives. Though I figure myself one who understands and appreciates the power of social media right now, in the present, I find I can't ignore the digital highway within my mind that it curated and presented as a consistent avenue for retreat, for gossip, for limitless distraction.
My entrance into high school marked my emergence in the south; I was displaced from formative roots and friendships founded on face-to-face contact and unbridled celebration of our natural world. The opposite of the internet. I remember my introduction to AIM chat, there, during one play-date afternoon and understanding its frivolity, thinking that I didn't need it, that I couldn't see its worth. Senseless pinging; mind drawn and quartered in a metal box. Our move coincided with the dawn of Myspace and a subsequent universal acquaintance with its archaic modes of online communication, which seemed, at best, a self-indulgent toy designed to provide social cheats and electronic crutches to one's personality. I wanted it; it was perfect.
You were elegant and unparalleled, Facebook. Private groups, dedicated to shared and instant special interests, mixed with status updates of all flavors, all saucy or long-winded or revelatory or poetic or sarcastic, all linked to social rabbit holes I could reach within and learn from. Neat and orderly, endlessly scrolling, you provided a rapidly developing girth of information and places to probe as far as the heart desired, into foreign reaches of the world wide web. It wasn't bad, and it wasn't necessarily good; it was an inevitable phenomenon born out of human excitement and hopes to connect with one another, to turn social interaction into a game you could be good at, or win.
While I've loved you for all you're worth again and again, I know that my regular dosage of your demanding smattering of subject material does not constitute a hobby which I might healthfully maintain in the months and years to come. While there are corners of the web that you've exposed me to -- influential riverlets of knowledge and inspiration which I doubt I'll ever banish from my life -- the basic platform of you, Facebook, is something I could leave. Though I cannot speak for strangers, I know your power to be contrary to usefulness in my own day-to-day existence now. You're detrimental.
Speech is important. Wordplay and sentence structure matter pertinently; I think that a thought, composed on paper, inserted with honesty, is vital in its development with direct impact echoing in the ears of its writer or speaker. We should all be storytellers.
But the placement of a thought of sincere importance or personality on an attention-draining platform like you, Facebook, is the opposite of productive. You are, by nature, a waster of time and a place to curate social experimentation, personality enhancements. And when work or research is done in the name of a cause outside yourself -- then posted on a site designed to make one feel better and obsess a little bit every living day over oneself -- the attention automatically shifts from the original subject of passion to the poster, to the narcissist in us all. If that is your goal then you have succeeded. But my hope is to cease all flattery of myself and better my understanding of others and the outside world.
I don't want my own work and learning and contribution to the world to exist namely in or because of my rabbit hole.
Facebook, honey, don't stop being you. To devalue you in this letter is not my purpose here -- because what you seek to do, you do very, very well. Bolster the successful socialites; provide them the tools which will prove their worth and prowess. Support the struggling and the alienated; give them the avenues through which they will find love and the bravery to complete themselves. And continue to educate the ones who turn to Facebook to spew hate and to build their understanding of the world on falsehoods and negativity; tell them that harmony is still worth achieving, and help them to reject bigotry and accept the good in people.
Most importantly, give strength to users who do the educating. It's a role that I tried to occupy and which subsequently exhausted me. I posted endless reinforcements of my political and social beliefs -- to whom? My echo chamber consisted enormously of those who thought just like me; it was a home to balloons of personal values, nothing too extreme, not too many things public. Each time I posted on a public forum, engaging with strangers with abject claims, it felt wrong -- and rightly so -- because those empty argumentative words were just links to my private existence, curated there since the site's creation for all to see.
I no longer need something like that attached to me, Facebook, and I hope that you can understand why. It's no slight to you. Those entering your gates today, or in very recent years, will have a long way to go before they find you exhausting. Or maybe they never will; maybe you'll be a consistent accessory to them in the same way that Twitter and Instagram function for many of us Facebook originators: not totally necessary, but a fun outlet for emotion and little pieces of thought.
Personally, when I think about it, I think that you, Facebook, have become the least necessary of all on account of the way you do a lot of my living for me! How is that fair? It seems the more of myself I put into you, the less I'm able to live long-term outside you -- that is, without my quick portal to you available at the tips of my fingers. I've lost an ability to invest
That's all I've got. I'll see you in another day and age, perhaps -- on the day that I return and find you matter so little to me that I'm able to scourge and delete or maybe recreate your depths to make you shallower and able to serve the specific and inconsequential needs I have. Today is not that day.