The Great Facebook Purge

I woke up this morning with visions of a crumbling Hogwarts still fresh in my mind. He-who-must-not-be-named and his band of gloomy thugs laid waste to that venerable institution of magical education in less than two hours, simultaneously ridding the world of many wizards and witches. He seemed to feel pretty good about it, too.

Now, for whatever reason, I got to thinking about my Facebook account. I first came to Facebook in my sophomore year of college, if memory serves (which it doesn’t). I was mindlessly right clicking on random names (actually, going from top to bottom) on my AIM buddy list to check profiles that hadn’t changed for weeks. I noticed that a “friend” from high school (just a dude who I never liked yet was on my Buddy List anyway) had a link in his profile saying, “Facebook Me!” I clicked and saw a barebones site that looked absolutely nothing like our beloved and berated social network does today. At that point it was just a Harvard thing. From Maryland we scoffed at the elitists. Little did we know that in months we’d all be on the path to becoming one of the millions of minions on the site.

In the nearly 10 years since my first encounter with “The Facebook,” I have become a habitual user. Perhaps I’m in denial. Is it an addiction if you check your phone for who is liking your posts/statuses/pictures several times a day, including 10 minutes after they’re up? I suppose it is. Well, I don’t like it.

Recently, a Twitter friend (someone I’ve never met in person) and I bridged our friendship onto Facebook. Upon seeing my friends count, this friend took to calling me a “Facebook _____”. I will not repeat the words that escaped this person’s fingers, for fear of insulting my readers with coarse language not befitting of my blog. Let’s just say the word was not, “king,” “lord,” or “demigod.” From the other side of the screen, I snorted with laughter. “Damn skippy, I’m a Facebook _____. 675 friends, WHAT!” Then I felt like a talk show guest who prances across the stage professing pride for having done something most of us would deem inappropriate or wrong. It was a very false sense of security and joy.

This was about two weeks ago. But in reality, the all-encompassing aspects of Facebook on our lives have been bothering me since I saw “The Social Network” a couple of years ago. I took two things from that movie. Number one was, “I never thought back when he was singing ‘Bye Bye Bye’ with that stupid haircut all those years ago that Justin Timberlake would become a decent actor.” Ain’t no lie, he is. Number two was, “Marc Zuckerberg is a monster.” Okay, obviously the movie was told from the perspective of the people he supposedly screwed over, but still. I know enough about how Facebook has evolved to know that it’s become more Orwellian than anything I ever wanted to involve myself in, other than 1984.

Anyway, for now, I’m still allowing that stalker/creepshow/weirdness/how-do-you-know-this-about-me element of Facebook to continue. I’m not giving up my account – yet. But I realize now that it’s totally without value or merit to spend the hours I have looking through profiles of people who I haven’t spoken to since 1996. It doesn’t benefit me to maintain these “connections” with people I worked with at camp for one summer years ago. I have no right to be interested in the doings of these people’s lives. In fact, there are precious few people I am “friends” with on Facebook that are actually real friends. And for these people, I can hear straight from their mouths or through an e-mail.

So, with that, this morning I began The Great Facebook Purge. In a matter of mere minutes, I had successfully unfriended 100 acquaintances (or never-knew-yas). Oh sure, it set my heart racing, and it felt kind of awkward. What will I do when I have nothing to do? Maybe instead of opening Facebook, I’ll open something like a real book. Besides, I get much more out of the relationships I’ve developed on Twitter – with people I’ve never met – than the meaningless ones on Facebook with people I once knew. It’s like the not-so-old adage goes, “Facebook is for the people you went to school with, Twitter is for the people you wish you went to school with.” And then, of course, there’s Google+, which has potential once I import all my Facebook friends – ah! Caught myself. Once I get my real friends on there.

There’s more work to be done on my end as I let the water out of my pool of Facebook “friends”. I think ahead to conversations that involve, “Why aren’t we friends on Facebook?” and wonder how I can tactfully respond by saying, “Because we aren’t friends in real life.” I’m whittling Facebook down to people with whom I interact and who share similar interests with me. And I’m not apologizing for it.



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