Adbusters

So long, F@€£&*%K

The half-life of social networking?

JIM WILSON / THE NEW YORK TIMES / REDUX

I deleted my Facebook account 16 days ago, after reading an article about screen time and social networking addiction. I was checking my profile all the time, often sinking into a black hole of scrolling and feeling my phone buzz whether I received a message or push notification or had just imagined it. I felt overexposed, overwhelmed, and more than a little ready to foray away from my computer and out into the sunshine.

The first day I quit, I felt compelled to log into my account a total of 43 times. Occasionally, I realized I’d typed the entirety of the URL by rote — yelping and closing the browser immediately. My thumbs sought the little blue F on my smartphone out of habit, hovering over the hole where the icon used to be. The next day was only a bit better — I tallied a total of 37 compulsions to login. Day three, more improvement. No tally, less desire, several non-sleeping hours where I didn’t think of Facebook once. Just over two weeks later, I don’t need Facebook (and its little reminders that yes, I exist, and yes, people still like me) at all.

I don’t need Facebook, and Facebook probably doesn’t need me. Right? There are about 7 billion people on the planet, and about 955 million have accounts. One seventh of the world’s population has expressed some desire to put up some photos, play some Farmville, friend their dad with a limited profile, and participate in the generation of some browsing habit and personal information research for a company started by an ethically-questionable dude from Dobbs Ferry, New York.

Things for Facebook should be on the up and up. Facebook is now a noun and a verb! Those of us without Facebook run the risk of being considered weirdos, or not being hired by potential employers who distrust an unbrowseable employee! Their brand is probably more recognizable to a kid than a woodpecker or a tomato plant!

Things should be on the up and up, but they’re not. Since Facebook went public in May of this year, shares in the company have fallen 44%, from $38 to $21.20. This week, a lock-up period imposed on early investors and company directors — put in place to prevent volatility during its debut on the market — will end, freeing stockholders to offload up to 271 million shares if they want to. If only it took me two weeks to get over my Facebook break-up, and three months for company shares to decline in value by almost a half, does this mean the smurf-blue giant could be whittled down to manageable size by the end of 2013?

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At last we’re in Winter. It’s the year 2047. A worn scrapbook from the future arrives in your lap. It offers a stunning global vision, a warning to the next generations, a repository of practical wisdom, and an invaluable roadmap which you need to navigate the dark times, and the opportunities, which lie ahead.

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Comments on the article “So long, F@€£&*%K”

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Anonymous

Oh give me a break. So many people on the Left either justify using social networking and thereby accept technological progress as long as they convince themselves that they are appropriating it in some way, or refuse to sign on in order to reject technology and its corporate funding but then use other equally corporate modes of communication/consumption. Why don't any of you just take to the streets and give up everything if this whole political thing isn't just another hobby for you? Most importantly, give up the guilt of hypocrisy. This article seems like a parody, but then I know for a fact that people have this problem....just shut it off and stop talking about it and searching for fake authenticity as an excuse to use the internet. "Oh its not facebook, its alternative but I will tweet or do something antithetical (in some form, we all know we do hypocritical things) to my worldview anyway. This kind of ambivalence will lead this generation to the status of baby boomer prius driving corporate liberals by 2040. Either sell out completely or go for it.

Anonymous

Oh give me a break. So many people on the Left either justify using social networking and thereby accept technological progress as long as they convince themselves that they are appropriating it in some way, or refuse to sign on in order to reject technology and its corporate funding but then use other equally corporate modes of communication/consumption. Why don't any of you just take to the streets and give up everything if this whole political thing isn't just another hobby for you? Most importantly, give up the guilt of hypocrisy. This article seems like a parody, but then I know for a fact that people have this problem....just shut it off and stop talking about it and searching for fake authenticity as an excuse to use the internet. "Oh its not facebook, its alternative but I will tweet or do something antithetical (in some form, we all know we do hypocritical things) to my worldview anyway. This kind of ambivalence will lead this generation to the status of baby boomer prius driving corporate liberals by 2040. Either sell out completely or go for it.

Anonymous

You act as if this choice is so easy. And it is, in a certain light. But reading a comment from you on this site tells me you yourself haven't made this leap.

Leaving behind your family, friends, and economic security is a big decision. It takes time and courage. And it isn't as two sided as full out or sell out. Reducing consumerism is important and there are many small things that can be done. Obviously full out revolt is great. But not too many people like the idea of being the early birds who are jailed or killed. Patience is required, these things are starting to happen and are beginning to become more common.

Chris H

I have to say, though, that FB seems like a means to suppress or sublimate genuine political anxieties, not face them and take action.

People talk big and I say "Okay! So what are we DOING?" 99% of the time it's "nothing at all, just bitch and moan." The other 1% it's "Let's go play some bongo drums downtown..."

People aren't terribly impressed by bongo drums anymore. There have to be other means to take action.

On the other end, meeting and speaking with people who are genuinely interested in discussing novel solutions to current political problems is an issue as well. If you want to start a genuine political movement (rather than a sit & bitch) you need extremely well-educated, thoughtful strategists with novel ideas of means and ends.

And that just doesn't seem to exist: the education is Wikipedia, the ends are the same political philosophies that were espoused in the 19th century (e.g. Communism and anarchism), and the means are, as I said, bongo drums and patchouli.

Casian

Congratulations!

I got rid of my account a long time ago, and everything is ok, I don't need it. Spending time with real friends is much more important than spending time on that social network. Social networking is designed to fetch and commercialize your personal information anyway.

Your personal time and information are both valuable :)

LA in L'Pool

I've abstained from fakebook since 2006, right before it opened its doors to non-collegiate email accounts. You could already see it changing the face of college culture, and the authoritarian uses by the administration were obvious and reprehensible. Resident Life staff actually encouraged using facebook to spy on the kids on your floor, so you could snitch or,if you were an RA like I was, hover by their door to catch them on the weekends. It sickened me, thus I separated myself. But that hasnt saved me from ceaseless berating by females (usually, of the non-adbuster variety) when i inform them i refuse to be a part of this fad. Its definitely strained my relationship with significant others because of my outspoken stance on it being just an arm for corporate/government interests and undermining community for individual market-like labeling.

This half-life decomposition is clearly radioactive. Walk away while you still can.
I hope twitter is next.
How could we let a website become the be-all, end-all social networking hub? arent we better/smarter than this already?

facebook is willingful monitoring. Good luck, lemmings

Anonymous

Never had Facebook or Myspace or any of that. Never needed it, never understood why other's needed it...and this was before all the weird stuff about privacy etc. came to the forefront.

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