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When I say that everyone I know is quitting Facebook, it isn’t hyperbole. I just don’t know that many people.
When it was only my 22-year-old brother heading for the hills, I could write it off. The almost-decade between us means that our definition of cool is always going to be slightly different: If normcore had been around when I was 8, I would have been the flyest person on the planet, but as it stands I’ve spent my adult life trying to escape the style of clothing an entire generation has started drooling over.
But it didn’t stop with my brother. One friend quit, then another, and then another, and then it started to seem like most of the activity in my feed came courtesy of my mom and I was forced to reconsider my life choices.
It’s not like I use Facebook to its fullest anymore. For the most part, the site is my bathroom reading and the place where I shamelessly self-promote my work. These reasons I maintain an account are prurient. I use it for mild stalking and to feel connected (albeit it in a ghost-like way) to my past. There’s definitely a part of me keeping the account around in the hopes of being able to trumpet my romantic success to all and sundry. This is not a part of myself I am proud of. I also use it to log in to roughly one million other things online. Not having an account can be hard.
For example, there was the time my Facebookless brother tried to use Airbnb. Watching him figure that out was like watching French farce, a theatrical sub-genre no person with anxiety should be forced to consider.
I could find reasons to stay and reasons to go. Maybe in becoming the sort of person who made me want to throttle my iPhone on Facebook I’d stop waffling and decide once and for all to shit or get off the pot.
But before I jumped on the FB-leaving bandwagon I figured I owed it to this most hallowed of social media platforms to make full use of it one last time. For a week, I would become the most annoying person on Facebook. I would poke people, I would invite everyone to play games, I would post cryptically about my love life, share inspirational quotes, news articles I hadn’t read, and mushiness about my love life. It would be one glorious hurrah before I cut the cord for good.
The Game Invite
To begin the experience, I downloaded Kim Kardashian Hollywood and began inviting all of my Facebook friends to join me. While nobody accepted my invitation, nobody seemed filled with wrath either. If folks were annoyed, they kept it to themselves. I, in turn, became quietly addicted to the game until someone in my life stood watch as I removed it from my phone altogether.
What a tangled web we weave, y’all. I still miss pretend-meeting pretend-Kris Jenner for pretend-sandwiches at pretend-restaurant Il Panino. What times we pretend-had.
The Diet Update
After the great Kardashian escapade, I figured it was time to start sharing my weight loss struggles with the world. I loudly announced the pounds I’ve lost and revealed that I have close to sixty more to reach goal. My Facebook friends lived up to their title and were all... just really supportive? In fact, one of them even spent a considerable amount of time sharing a comment about her own struggles and giving me really helpful tips.
As the number of likes grew, I didn’t feel annoying at all. I just felt, like, very much supported by the virtual community I tend to forget exists?
Eager to jar them out of their niceness, I considered what other ways I could abuse them with news of my health and wellness journey. Crossfit updates? This would involve doing Crossfit, so no. Loads of pictures of my latest marathon? This would involve running marathons, so again with the no. But I did figure out that my FitBit could share my daily data with my friends, so I set that up. Crickets. Also, I love my FitBit.
The Eight Million Baby Photos
People seem to be really irritated by loads and loads of baby photos, right? It’s not something that’s ever bothered me. Odds are, if we are friends on Facebook I’ve got a vested interest in your life, in a healthy and normal way. I’m not friends with my enemies and exes, so there are few if any babies that spring immediately to mind who I would think to judge or whine about.
Babies are cute. When they aren’t coo-out-loud-about adorable, they are still babies, and as such are infinitely photographable. Still, it’s a thing, right? Too many babies on someone’s feed?
I nanny my godson two days a week and in an effort to drive away the people who claimed to be my friends, I posted roughly eight million photos of the guy. It was fruitless. He was too cute. The likes just rolled in. I should have known better than to put him in a bowtie.
Then I went old-school awful and began “poking” everyone I know. The only problem there being that apparently I went poke-nuts a while back and Facebook now won’t let you repoke folks who have yet to poke you back. My sister and my roommate’s sister responded to my pokes almost immediately with great delight.
The Link Spam
Next up, I posted article after article after article after article. I spammed the night away and people just loved it. In fact, the only person who was annoyed by my annoying experiment was the one person on Facebook I’d told about it -- my roommate. After day one she started texting me how long it was going to continue. By day three she was almost not speaking to me. In fairness, I think she has me marked as a favorite, which means that every time I do anything on Facebook she is notified. So really it’s on her not me.
There was only one moment of irksome weirdness for me during this week of social media deep-diving. I’ve been dating someone for about three months now. He is great. If I was going to up the ante in terms of being Facebook-annoying, that meant sickly sweet posts about my bae, right? I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I couldn’t go all in. He was out of town for the week in question and the closest I got to posting pics of his face with animated blingees was a status update about how happy I was that he was coming back to New York. I am a WASP. I cannot gush. It is not in my nature. Think James Spader in Secretary: “Lee, I am very fond of you as well.”
This experiment taught me that I’m a judgmental ass -- which I’d long suspected anyway. It also made me feel deeply chagrined about how cavalier I am about the people in my life, even those I don’t see regularly.
Over the course of my life I’ve made some pretty remarkable friends and more often than not that’s happened in spite of my standoffish, obtuse, awkward, hard to read self. I also learned that even though I’ve come a long way when it comes to expressing what I’m thinking and feeling -- good and bad -- I’m still one one hugely repressed fucker. Verily, lessons did abound.
It’s crazy, if you’d told me I would have my faith in humanity restored by Facebook a week ago I would have slapped you and maybe set your dog on fire. I won’t be poking anyone again any time soon, but I won’t be canceling my account either.