The Literary Drover No. 5030

My decision to abandon Facebook several years ago has resulted in a measure of celebrity for me – an unintended consequence of my subtle and sublime actions, choices, and decisions.

As Facebook turns into the Social Media equivalent of a black hole* – collapsing in on itself, and taking much of the Social Media universe with it – and many respond by fleeing the growing shock waves that result, more than a few who knew of my abandonment are asking: How did you know? How did you know the truth about Facebook?

For those that lack patience and possess a short attention span, the explanation can be advanced simply: Common sense, logic and reason.

For those willing to allow a more substantial explanation, starting with common sense, logic and reason: Superficially, it had to do with Mark Zuckerberg, and the perpetual smug expression on his face, which reminded me of a kid in grade school who took great pleasure in spreading rumors and gossip about others – me, for example, and who presented himself as The Victim when taken to task for his unacceptable behavior.

Then there was the matter of the reality of Facebook. When I first heard the phrase “Facebook” I asked ten people to define the function of it. The response was ten different definitions and ten different functions. The good in that was the possibility and potential of Facebook. The bad in that was the implication: No one seemed to have a clear understanding of definition and function, and the lack of structure and order favored not only chaos but anarchy.

That has become truth and fact, as expressed in how Facebook has been used to broadcast such things as murder and beatings in the reality most people live in.

Additionally, regarding the reality of Facebook there was the matter of culture and environment. Whenever an environment is established a culture is borne of the environment. A culture framed by standards and principles, morals and ethics, values and beliefs. Facebook, as far as I could determine, was deficient in all of them, and that encouraged chaos, anarchy, bigotry, prejudice, hatred, and other concerning aspects of humanity – in what we like to call “civilization”.

Delving into the reality of Facebook I found more concern from my perspective. I did not establish a Facebook account because “everyone else did”. I created a Facebook account to follow the adventures, antics, and experiences of a Writer I know who decided spending several hours a week maintaining a basic e-mail distribution list was not a good use of his time. He decided – at the time – having a Facebook page that others could follow was a better way to document his efforts**. After I created a Facebook account to stay current regarding his writing efforts I learned how Facebook works – impulse buying: Based on information you provide when setting up the account Facebook would make suggestions on who and what you should follow on Facebook. As anyone who has used Facebook and who admits to succumbing to the impulse buying concept knows this can quickly result in you following hundreds, if not thousands of other Facebook accounts, and the result is an information overload. Apply common sense, logic and reason as I did and you determine that most of what is on Facebook is not worth knowing about, so you unfollow most of the stuff you initially followed.

Then there was the matter of related functions on Facebook: “Friends” could follow you on Facebook and respond to content you published. As I learned, if you follow hundreds, perhaps thousands of accounts on Facebook, you have little time to respond to the content on other Facebook accounts, and the result is the same for your Facebook account. Implicitly, you are being rejected by your “Friends” on Facebook, and that is demoralizing at best.

Add the comments posted to the Facebook pages for news organizations around the world and your perception of reality beyond Facebook is negatively affected and impacted, and you tend to treat others in reality in an unacceptable manner, which can manifest in behavior that could get you into circumstances best avoided: Perhaps an encounter with law enforcement, inquiring as to whether or not you really intended to bring physical harm to someone because they disagreed with you.

For me, from a pragmatic perspective, Facebook failed to provide worth and value. When I posted original or shared content to my Facebook page less than one percent of my “Friends” responded to it. When I posted a well-written, reasoned comment to another Facebook page, specifically one belonging to a supposedly professional news organization, and the response included explicit suggestions involved sensitive parts of my physical anatomy, fire, and hot branding irons – at minimum, thereby affecting the tone of a given day, I decided the time had come to do something else somewhere else.

As some know I did not announce beforehand my decision to abandon Facebook. I simply walked away from it. I know my life is much better for it. The only residual concern regarding Facebook is that not one of my “Friends” on Facebook has contacted me asking why I am no longer on Facebook. For me, implicitly, that is the underlying truth and fact about Facebook: What matters will not be found on Facebook. What matters is Out There, and here, in a relatively quiet corner of the cyber cosmos.

 

* A friend of many years, who was not a “Friend” on Facebook, who abandoned Facebook earlier this year, unaware that I had been on Facebook, has written at great length regarding his opinion and perception of Facebook based on his experiences with Facebook, describing the ensuring carnage and demise as the equivalent of a bloated Port-O-John on fire, left to burn on a hot day, in Texas, when the humidity was a hundred percent, aided by a passionate lunatic who keeps pouring flammables on the mess.

** After several years of having a Facebook account the humble scribe I know, having spent a lot of time blocking people on Facebook because he did not want them “polluting the waters”, decided that Facebook was not the Social Media platform for him and his desire to promote his writings. He abandoned Facebook shortly after I did, unaware of my decision to do so. Discouraged by the failure that Facebook was for him he contacted me, wanting to know if I had suggestions for a Social Media platform that would better serve his purpose. I pointed him to this modest effort, and he followed my example. Today his blog has resulted in more exposure for his writing than Facebook ever did.

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