The Freedom From Want

Facebook Suicide

Destroy your carefully constructed virtual image in four easy clicks.

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Hey Jammers! This year’s Digital Detox Week begins Monday, February 10th. To get you in the mood, we’re reposting this article, “Facebook Suicide” from Adbusters #89.

In march, at the peak of Facebook popularity, I quit. with four swift clicks of the mouse, I canceled my account. Gone was the entire online persona I had created for myself – profile pictures, interests and activities, work history, friends acquired – all carefully thought out to showcase to the world the very best version of me, all now deleted.

Ironically, the decision to destroy my carefully built-up virtual image came as a result of wanting to enhance my profile. All that particular week I’d been hungry for new quotes on my page, something to reflect the week I’d been having: something introspective. I perused a quotes website and found this one attributed to Aristotle:

“We are what we repeatedly do.”

I became despondent. What, then, was I? If my time was spent changing my profile picture on Facebook, thinking of a clever status update for Facebook, checking my profile again to see if anyone had commented on my page, Is this what I am? A person who re-visits her own thoughts and images for hours each day? And so what do I amount to? An egotist? A voyeur?

Whatever the label, I was unhappy and feeling empty. The amount of time I spent on Facebook had pushed me into an existential crisis. It wasn’t the time-wasting, per se, that bothered me. It was the nature of the obsession – namely self-obsession. Enough was enough. I left Facebook.

In the past, my feelings toward Facebook and similar social networking sites had swung between a genuine sense of connection and community to the uncomfortable awareness that what all of our blogs, online journals and personal profiles really amounted to was serious narcissism. As my feelings of over-exposure continued to mount, the obvious solution would have been to set limits on my Facebook time – yet I still found myself sucked in for longer periods every time I visited. In part, it was the hundreds of little links to and hints about other people’s lives that kept me coming back. But even more addicting were the never-ending possibilities to introduce, enhance and reveal more of myself.

The baby-boomers were at one time thought to be the most self-absorbed generation in American history and carried the label of the Me Generation. In recent years this title has been appropriated, twisted and reassigned to the babies of those same boomers – born in the 80s and 90s – now called Generation Me or the Look at Me Generation. Author Jean Twenge, an Associate Professor of Psychology at San Diego State University and herself a member of Generation Me – spent ten years doing research on this group’s sense of entitlement and self-absorption. She attributed it to the radical individualism that was engendered by baby-boomer parents and educators focused on instilling self-esteem in children beginning in the 1970s. American and Canadian youth were raised on aphorisms such as “express yourself” and “just be yourself.”

To further illustrate her point, Twenge also found a large increase in self-reference words like “I,” “me,” “mine” and “myself” in news stories published in the 80s and 90s. These words replaced collective words such as “we,” “us,” “humanity,” “country” or “crowd” found in the stories of a similar nature in the 50s and 60s. This generation might be the least thoughtful, community-oriented and conscientious one in North American history.

In the end, what does all this online, arms-length self-promotion ultimately provide? Perhaps it’s merely one component of the pursuit to alleviate some of the blackness encountered in the existential vacuum of modern life. As Schopenhauer once projected, modern humans may be doomed to eternally vacillate between distress and boredom. For the vast majority of people experiencing the fragmented, fast-paced modern world of 2008, a Sunday pause at the end of a hectic week may cause them to become all too aware of the lack of content in their lives. So we update our online profiles and tell ourselves that we are reaching out.

And yet, the time we waste on Facebook only makes our search for comfort and community more elusive. Online networking sites are marketed as facilitators of community-orientation but when I think about the millions of people – myself included – who spend large portions of their waking lives feeding off an exchange of thousands of computerized, fragmented images, it doesn’t add up to community-engagement. These images have no meaning beyond “I look pretty from this angle” or “I’m wasted” or “look who my new boyfriend is.” And as we continue to chase even harder – accessing Facebook at work, uploading images from our cell phones – we spend our money on constantly upgraded electronic gadgets marketed to our tendency to self-obsess and present particularly uninteresting and repetitive images of ourselves. There’s got to be more than this.

And so I quit…

After I left Facebook, I wondered what all my friends, family and acquaintances were going to think when they noticed I’d disappeared off the Facebook earth. So some of my Facebook narcissism – am I being noticed, am I being missed – remains. But I’m also asking myself some new questions. How do I find balance between my online life and my “real” life? How much exposure is healthy? How do I act responsibly for myself and engage with those I love? These are still “me” thoughts but they feel different than before. As I sit here, keyboard under palm, eyes on screen, I try to remind myself that my hands and eyes need to venture out into the community and look and touch the truly tangible that lies just beyond that other big screen: my window.

- Carmen Joy King

450 comments on the article “Facebook Suicide”

Displaying 11 - 20 of 450

Page 2 of 45

JESUS HATH COME...

the internet isnt about peoples stupid shit. its about russian-chinese hacker dissidents hired by those governments to hack and disrupt networked infastructures of the united states...how can they launch missiles if their is an eye patched happy face on the screen ey?
THE FUTURE IS FUCKED WAKE THE FUCK UP YOUR LIVING IN FANTASY LAND, IN 4 YEARS THERE WONT BE TIME TO DEBATE ABOUT VIRTUAL EGOS, GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER NOW DOUCHE COLLECTIVE DUMBTARD ASSES...This is a message from the grand annointed chancelor christ lord forgivetheth one inspired snake mind child murdered kill spree thrill cult death knoll award winning documentary for best in dog show pedigree...my english better with time and when there is no more America machine to embroil the edges of sanity amidst scrawled empty phrases of dissonant cognitie state shocked into coherence by empirically aligned molecularly vibrant coeifficients of our true symbiotic nature. clear..!?

JESUS HATH COME...

the internet isnt about peoples stupid shit. its about russian-chinese hacker dissidents hired by those governments to hack and disrupt networked infastructures of the united states...how can they launch missiles if their is an eye patched happy face on the screen ey?
THE FUTURE IS FUCKED WAKE THE FUCK UP YOUR LIVING IN FANTASY LAND, IN 4 YEARS THERE WONT BE TIME TO DEBATE ABOUT VIRTUAL EGOS, GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER NOW DOUCHE COLLECTIVE DUMBTARD ASSES...This is a message from the grand annointed chancelor christ lord forgivetheth one inspired snake mind child murdered kill spree thrill cult death knoll award winning documentary for best in dog show pedigree...my english better with time and when there is no more America machine to embroil the edges of sanity amidst scrawled empty phrases of dissonant cognitie state shocked into coherence by empirically aligned molecularly vibrant coeifficients of our true symbiotic nature. clear..!?

Anonymous

This article verbalized something I had been suspecting for a long time. This facebook cyberworld is really dehumanizing in some ways. I know people who talk in person about something they saw on facebook. I have always found this strange, even while engaging in it. The day I read this article, I deleted my Facebook account, and so far, it was a great decision. People can still get in touch with me, at least people with whom I care to associate. It is ironic that these "social-networking" sites in some ways make us increasingly isolated.

Anonymous

This article verbalized something I had been suspecting for a long time. This facebook cyberworld is really dehumanizing in some ways. I know people who talk in person about something they saw on facebook. I have always found this strange, even while engaging in it. The day I read this article, I deleted my Facebook account, and so far, it was a great decision. People can still get in touch with me, at least people with whom I care to associate. It is ironic that these "social-networking" sites in some ways make us increasingly isolated.

Shawn Michel de...

This article begs many questions: What is narcissism? Is it necessarily implied when one reaches out for attention, as occurs on social "community" websites like Facebook? How does one define a "waste of time"? Is it one hour, two hours, more? Less? If one researches a group or demographic's self-entitlement and -absorption, are self-referential words like "me," "mine," "I," and so on accurate predictors of self-entitlement and -absorption? If so, how do we define unhealthy or psychopathological or sociopathological benchmarks for such a study? Is individualism, as this essay implies (unwittingly or otherwise), necessarily synonymous with selfishness or an unapologetic or ignorant take on community and other's needs? How do we define "selfishness" in this context? Does its definition vary when we speak of Internet via "real" communities? Who is qualified to make such definitions? Are anecdotes on disconnect and alienation proof of that disconnect and alienation?

Too many questions; too much sheepy agreement among commenters below; too little actual analysis and truth-seeking here.

A deeper reality is this: if you're a disconnected, alienated cog in the so-called real world, you're going to be one on the Internet too, regardless of your attempts to hide that fact. And therein lies a truth--a very harsh truth: we can talk about alienation, narcissism, and disconnect till we're blue in the faces here, and how we're going to delete our profiles from Facebook and Friendster and MySpace, but it won't matter: because that alienation and narcissism and disconnect first exists <>in here before it exists out there or digitally or in any other realm you care to talk about. It's your own spirit, your own soul that's sick, not the Internet, not the town you've been raised in. Walk away from the Web or that town, and feel all self-righteous as you do so: you've merely taken away another venue for your pathology, nothing more.

Reality number two: the vast majority of human beings living today are in fact alienated, disconnected cogs. A cursory glance around makes this claim self-evident. Look at the blight, the endless moronic sprawl, the corporatism, the waste, the commodification of art and music, the propaganda, the violence. So as in here, so out there.

It's time to stop shifting blame on such things like the Internet and the market and our leaders and our corporations and the Oppressors (capitalized because, you know, it's always the choice of blame for so many here) and the military and a million other institutions and people, and take a long, hard look inside. Got a problem with your community? What are you doing about it? Think the Internet is narcissistic and shallow? Don't you think that's because you, among billions of others, are narcissistic and shallow? What are you doing about that? If you walk away from it, don't you think you'll carry those poor qualities with you, or are you deluded about that too?

If you're a second-hand person on the Web, you'll be one away from it too.

Wake up.

Want to change the world? Change yourself, first.

Surrender, as this essay glorifies, is not an option.

Shawn Michel de...

This article begs many questions: What is narcissism? Is it necessarily implied when one reaches out for attention, as occurs on social "community" websites like Facebook? How does one define a "waste of time"? Is it one hour, two hours, more? Less? If one researches a group or demographic's self-entitlement and -absorption, are self-referential words like "me," "mine," "I," and so on accurate predictors of self-entitlement and -absorption? If so, how do we define unhealthy or psychopathological or sociopathological benchmarks for such a study? Is individualism, as this essay implies (unwittingly or otherwise), necessarily synonymous with selfishness or an unapologetic or ignorant take on community and other's needs? How do we define "selfishness" in this context? Does its definition vary when we speak of Internet via "real" communities? Who is qualified to make such definitions? Are anecdotes on disconnect and alienation proof of that disconnect and alienation?

Too many questions; too much sheepy agreement among commenters below; too little actual analysis and truth-seeking here.

A deeper reality is this: if you're a disconnected, alienated cog in the so-called real world, you're going to be one on the Internet too, regardless of your attempts to hide that fact. And therein lies a truth--a very harsh truth: we can talk about alienation, narcissism, and disconnect till we're blue in the faces here, and how we're going to delete our profiles from Facebook and Friendster and MySpace, but it won't matter: because that alienation and narcissism and disconnect first exists <>in here before it exists out there or digitally or in any other realm you care to talk about. It's your own spirit, your own soul that's sick, not the Internet, not the town you've been raised in. Walk away from the Web or that town, and feel all self-righteous as you do so: you've merely taken away another venue for your pathology, nothing more.

Reality number two: the vast majority of human beings living today are in fact alienated, disconnected cogs. A cursory glance around makes this claim self-evident. Look at the blight, the endless moronic sprawl, the corporatism, the waste, the commodification of art and music, the propaganda, the violence. So as in here, so out there.

It's time to stop shifting blame on such things like the Internet and the market and our leaders and our corporations and the Oppressors (capitalized because, you know, it's always the choice of blame for so many here) and the military and a million other institutions and people, and take a long, hard look inside. Got a problem with your community? What are you doing about it? Think the Internet is narcissistic and shallow? Don't you think that's because you, among billions of others, are narcissistic and shallow? What are you doing about that? If you walk away from it, don't you think you'll carry those poor qualities with you, or are you deluded about that too?

If you're a second-hand person on the Web, you'll be one away from it too.

Wake up.

Want to change the world? Change yourself, first.

Surrender, as this essay glorifies, is not an option.

MDJoyce

First of all--I respect your opinion, and thanks for sharing.
*
But...
*
I disagree--the internet is no different than any form of technology. Likewise, Facebook is fine. It's been great for organizing political rallies I attend, exchanging philosophical thoughts. Sure, I probably only am active on it once or twice a week... but that's the point. I see people I know walking to classes with noses down, texting. I have a text-capable phone. I text when it's useful. Texting is fine... those people seem to have taken it to the extreme. Just as many have done with Facebook.
*
You mention Aristotle--perhaps you should also take heed of the famous Greek proverb carved on the Temple of Apollo: "Everything in moderation." You can "quit Facebook," throw your cell-phone in the sewer, bash in your computer monitor with the keyboard, whatever.
*
You're using a bandage. There is nothing wrong with these tools, but there IS something wrong with the AUDIENCE. You recognize a symptom of the problem, and attempt to fix it, but you're failing to address the real disease. You're "me wants" are merely going to find a new route of expression.

MDJoyce

First of all--I respect your opinion, and thanks for sharing.
*
But...
*
I disagree--the internet is no different than any form of technology. Likewise, Facebook is fine. It's been great for organizing political rallies I attend, exchanging philosophical thoughts. Sure, I probably only am active on it once or twice a week... but that's the point. I see people I know walking to classes with noses down, texting. I have a text-capable phone. I text when it's useful. Texting is fine... those people seem to have taken it to the extreme. Just as many have done with Facebook.
*
You mention Aristotle--perhaps you should also take heed of the famous Greek proverb carved on the Temple of Apollo: "Everything in moderation." You can "quit Facebook," throw your cell-phone in the sewer, bash in your computer monitor with the keyboard, whatever.
*
You're using a bandage. There is nothing wrong with these tools, but there IS something wrong with the AUDIENCE. You recognize a symptom of the problem, and attempt to fix it, but you're failing to address the real disease. You're "me wants" are merely going to find a new route of expression.

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