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 21 - 30 of 450

Page 3 of 45

Miguel

I too quit facebook around the same time as the author and have yet to welsh on my decision.
However, I am torn... facebook can serve a purpose. Staying in contact with those where a phone isnt quite convenient or sometimes luckily stumbling on one of those few people that are worth the attention that you carelessly neglected before.
At the same time I see that facebook degenerates into a very fickle, fragile and unfortunately, a fake world. I want to dismiss facebook as worthless and a narcissistic prophylactic but at the same time, I dont disagree with a previous poster; that the internet/facebook is only a reflection of those that use it.
Am I better than those that use it? Is that why I quit? I really dont know. I hope so. God I hope so.
Facebook... I cant help but feel that there was a genuine deficiency of... genuineness. Maybe thats just my narcissism. Maybe Im just like the rest. Genpop will always degrade what it could be. Making it a shitty way of keeping in touch with those that matter and maybe our own indolence is the lesson to be learned from this article for those of us that quit facebook.

Miguel

I too quit facebook around the same time as the author and have yet to welsh on my decision.
However, I am torn... facebook can serve a purpose. Staying in contact with those where a phone isnt quite convenient or sometimes luckily stumbling on one of those few people that are worth the attention that you carelessly neglected before.
At the same time I see that facebook degenerates into a very fickle, fragile and unfortunately, a fake world. I want to dismiss facebook as worthless and a narcissistic prophylactic but at the same time, I dont disagree with a previous poster; that the internet/facebook is only a reflection of those that use it.
Am I better than those that use it? Is that why I quit? I really dont know. I hope so. God I hope so.
Facebook... I cant help but feel that there was a genuine deficiency of... genuineness. Maybe thats just my narcissism. Maybe Im just like the rest. Genpop will always degrade what it could be. Making it a shitty way of keeping in touch with those that matter and maybe our own indolence is the lesson to be learned from this article for those of us that quit facebook.

Ivo Quartiroli

It seems that an act or thought doesn't have value if it is not seen, uploaded and if it doesn't have an audience online.

Sharing as much as possible about our life and skills feels psychologically like being seen and "understood", the understanding and the mirroring of qualities that most of us didn't had in childhood or in later life. We need to be recognized and to get positive feedback on our qualities, whether they are real talents or idealistic expectations.

Paradoxically, the apogee of the social networking sites produces the disappearance of the individual differences as spinning all colors on a disk produces white color. Maybe the appeal of the rush to be connected with one another in such a pervasive way online comes from an echo on our soul that suggests a state we are all heading toward as a species.

A state that will be reached through consciousness processing rather than information processing.

Ivo Quartiroli

It seems that an act or thought doesn't have value if it is not seen, uploaded and if it doesn't have an audience online.

Sharing as much as possible about our life and skills feels psychologically like being seen and "understood", the understanding and the mirroring of qualities that most of us didn't had in childhood or in later life. We need to be recognized and to get positive feedback on our qualities, whether they are real talents or idealistic expectations.

Paradoxically, the apogee of the social networking sites produces the disappearance of the individual differences as spinning all colors on a disk produces white color. Maybe the appeal of the rush to be connected with one another in such a pervasive way online comes from an echo on our soul that suggests a state we are all heading toward as a species.

A state that will be reached through consciousness processing rather than information processing.

elizeu

Isn't the problem the way people use the technology as opposed to the technology itself?

I bet there are several 'good' uses for tools such as Facebook. MDJoyce poins it out nicely in a post above.

elizeu

Isn't the problem the way people use the technology as opposed to the technology itself?

I bet there are several 'good' uses for tools such as Facebook. MDJoyce poins it out nicely in a post above.

Anonymous

I find it a little ironic that you are sharing your "quitting facebook" experience with us, by writing about it and sharing it online. You are still searching to connect with people in someway, so someone will notice your activities. Facebook is like an addiction for a lot of people. So I can understand why you feel the need to express yourself in other forms, once quitting cold turkey. MDJoyce had a grat point...

"You're "me wants" are merely going to find a new route of expression."

This article is that new route!
The really ironic thing is, once I finish this post, I'm going to share a link to this article on Facebook!

Anonymous

I find it a little ironic that you are sharing your "quitting facebook" experience with us, by writing about it and sharing it online. You are still searching to connect with people in someway, so someone will notice your activities. Facebook is like an addiction for a lot of people. So I can understand why you feel the need to express yourself in other forms, once quitting cold turkey. MDJoyce had a grat point...

"You're "me wants" are merely going to find a new route of expression."

This article is that new route!
The really ironic thing is, once I finish this post, I'm going to share a link to this article on Facebook!

Anonymous

I find Miguel's comment, 'However, I am torn... facebook can serve a purpose. Staying in contact with those where a phone isnt quite convenient', quite interesting. How, in 2008, can contacting someone by telephone be inconvenient? I'm not on Facebook myself and think its fascinating how people can have so many 'friends' online but wouldn't dream of phoning them up and having a real vocal conversation let alone actually meeting up with them and having a pleasant evening in the pub or something.
Facebook, to me, seems like some sort of popularity contest and I have even witnessed people meeting friends of friends very briefly and then telling them to 'add them' on Facebook! In my opinion, if you won't talk to your Facebook 'friend' on the phone or invite them round to your house for dinner, then they are not your real friend in the first place and your Facebook popularity is nothing but a lie.

Anonymous

I find Miguel's comment, 'However, I am torn... facebook can serve a purpose. Staying in contact with those where a phone isnt quite convenient', quite interesting. How, in 2008, can contacting someone by telephone be inconvenient? I'm not on Facebook myself and think its fascinating how people can have so many 'friends' online but wouldn't dream of phoning them up and having a real vocal conversation let alone actually meeting up with them and having a pleasant evening in the pub or something.
Facebook, to me, seems like some sort of popularity contest and I have even witnessed people meeting friends of friends very briefly and then telling them to 'add them' on Facebook! In my opinion, if you won't talk to your Facebook 'friend' on the phone or invite them round to your house for dinner, then they are not your real friend in the first place and your Facebook popularity is nothing but a lie.

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