Quitting Facebook, Living the Dream, and Other Musings

Living the Dream

As the few of you who follow me may notice from the dates of my posts and from the content of the posts themselves, I haven’t been very consistent in terms of the content or frequency of my writing on this blog. The reasons for these inconsistencies are numerous. First of all, I work full-time as a lecturer of composition at a university (I’ll avoid using names and such, although any stalkers could easily find me, I’m sure). Yes, it would seem that a man such as myself with a Master’s degree in English should find the time to write–to stay in practice, if you will–on a daily (or at the very least, weekly) basis. Well, I don’t know if you’ve ever taught full-time, but keeping up with 80+ students was a new and challenging experience for me. Granted, I was a T.A. an had the fortunate experience of having already taught the classes, so I knew what to expect on a smaller scale, but I found myself woefully prepared for the deluge of daily assignments, major essay assignments, and constant lesson planning that filled my daily life as a newly-hired university employee. It was enough to drive one mad, I tell you! But I survived the first semester, and this semester hasn’t been quite as bad, as I am teaching two classes instead of four, with the rest of my time spent at the university’s writing center, helping students one-on-one in 30-minute increments–a nice change of pace. I am doing exactly what I spent a quarter of my life preparing to do professionally. Plans don’t often work out that well, so I am grateful for the opportunity that I have.

Thus, I finally have time to figure out what the whole purpose of this blog thing is. I cannot and will not guarantee better consistency in terms of the content I post or the frequency with which I post it, as this semester will inevitably bring with it some of the same challenges as the last, but I can honestly say that I haven’t given up on writing more often, and that I will try a bit harder to post more often–not for anyone reading this, but for myself.

Having said all that, I cannot help but wonder what the whole purpose is with this blog thing. Obviously, I don’t have a major purpose or theme. So far, all I’ve done is find things I thought were interesting or amusing and posted them, along with some (hopefully) mildly amusing commentary. This will be the first post in which I’ve just rambled on, and quite honestly, I don’t think my rambling is all that great, so I will probably go back to posting links with my future entries. So what is it for? Journaling? Usually, when people journal, they don’t imagine others reading their work, so I don’t think that’s quite right. I can’t say I have a message or an agenda that I’m entirely aware of. So what’s the point? I don’t know. Maybe I’m still trying to figure that out. Maybe one day I will find my niche among the thousands and thousands of other bloggers out there.  Or maybe this will be my vent, my soap box, my straw man, my knife (or pencil)-sharpener. It will be whatever I want it to be, but I can make one promise: none of it will come directly from Facebook from this point forward.

Facebook: The Cigarette of the Internet

I know. These days, it’s nearly impossible not to use Facebook, especially as a writer. Writers often use Facebook as a marketing and networking tool, and its potential to help freelancers and other writers get their work out is not lost on me. But I have officially forsworn Facebook. I quit, cold-turkey, about a week and a half, maybe two weeks, ago. I haven’t used it since. One time, because I forgot to remove the button from my toolbar and because I also set the browser to remember me, I signed in. But when I realized what I had done, I signed out. I didn’t look at my notifications or news feed and felt dirty for having even logged in to begin with. If you don’t believe me, that’s fine. I don’t expect you to, and you don’t have any reason to, but I’m proud of myself despite your misgivings. Now, I still have my internet addiction. I still browse reddit.com daily, but at least then I’m dealing with strangers rather than with those I would call “friends” on Facebook.

My decision to leave Facebook stems not from the format or the programming, or any problem with Facebook itself. My problem with Facebook is with its users. As far as I can tell, Facebook has become a receptacle for the basest, crudest, meanest, most bile-filled form of social commentary (if you can even call it that) that I have ever seen.  Facebook is the center for a growing sentiment in America that if you think or believe something slightly different–politically, religiously, hell, even if you have a different opinion on a movie–you are dirt. You are evil. You are what is wrong with America. You should move away, be shipped overseas, be stabbed, mutilated, burned to death, and hanged from the gallows for all the world to see. Otherness is a social crime, and internet arguments abound as Facebook has become the battlefront for any and all arguments, decorum and respect for others be damned.  I say this not about one particular political party or religious (or anti-religious, for that matter) group, but about almost all the people I know on Facebook. It saddens me. It frightens me. It angers me.

Facebook has apparently made thousands of people decide that we should no longer respect each other. It seems to have taught us that, because we are more connected to each other than ever, we can say whatever we want however we want, that we can say the foulest, most offensive things with impunity (because Freedom of Speech, amaright?), that we cannot disagree with civility and still love and respect our neighbors, even when they disagree with us. The boundless enterprise of the Internet has devolved into a closed circuit of mindless singularity; one can hardly say a thing without it devolving into some argumentative spectacle. I would say that I think my problem with Facebook stems from a similar, larger problem with Americans in general, but I will save that for another time. Suffice it to say for the time being that the hive-mind of Facebook has become, for me at least, so intolerant to Otherness that I cannot bear to be a part of it any longer.

I quit Facebook because I thought that if I had to see one more anti-or-pro-anything post from any of my friends, that I just might be losing some of them, many of whom are very dear to me. So rather than give up on my friendships, I have chosen to give up Facebook instead. And why not? It is a cancer on the face of our country. It reinforces all the bad things that politicians do and amplifies the intensity. It is the cigarette of the internet. It’s hard to quit, but it is possible, and I implore and encourage you to do the same. You don’t need Facebook to communicate with people, and you shouldn’t use it as a platform for political speech. Facebook is anti-person, anti-social (oh, the irony!), and, most importantly, anti-openness. I’m not going to pull out a guitar an sing “Kumbaya,” but I think if everyone quit Facebook and relaxed a little, we might be able to appreciate each other just a little bit more. And maybe–just maybe–our country would be a teeny weeny little bit less fucked up than it is right now. And our country is in a bad way, to say the least.

On that note, I bid you adieu for now. Now, everyone, grab a hand and let’s sing! Kumbaya, motherfuckers.

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