I deactivated my Facebook page again and I fear—if it’s not gonna be permanent—that this sabbatical from the site is gonna be longer than the last. A lot longer.
I was born in the late 70s and I’m fortunate enough to grow up with no gross attachment or dependence toward tools that supposedly connects people to each other. I have no problem going out without a mobile phone and I’m not bothered with that uncomfortable semi-naked sensation like an important part of your personality was somehow missing. Going out without a watch does that to me, but a mobile phone? Not happening.
I’m part of the last generation who managed to find itself right smack in the center of the world’s transition from the industrial to the information/social networking age. In a way this gives you a better perspective of things not readily available to elder generations who tend to look down and refuse to learn new technologies because of the all too familiar ‘I’m too old for that’ excuse—or the kids who apparently cannot survive a day without any form of equipment that connects them to their electronic network of contacts; or to help them navigate their daily activities.
Opening an account that had any semblance or promise of social interaction was very novel when I was younger. Back then it was the legendary MIRC chat rooms and being a part of email groups that practically defined online social interaction. This was even pre-Friendster, pre-Facebook and pre-anything. You can actually login to your account, answer queries of a few contacts over a stale topic on your HS email group and logout without any lingering thoughts on who might have ‘liked’ ‘retweeted’ or commented on that brilliant exposition you composed in under thirty minutes.
Back then you can step back from your computer and live an actual semblance of normalcy by interacting with real people in front of you. There was no nagging feeling of wanting to check your account every thirty minutes to see if there are comments to be answered, things tagged to your profile or did the person you wanted to impress actually took notice of what you did. I know a lot won’t admit this but that’s exactly the kind of hold social networks, especially Facebook, has on its users.
An article in The Atlantic sums it up best. Called The Internet Narcissism Epidemic, it delved on the very issue of how this mechanism in social networks tend to feed on the inherent need of every person to be noticed in a multitude who wants the very same thing. I know a few people who actually spend a large chunk of their day online, hoping to out-news and out-post everyone else. You reach a stage where your online contacts are reduced to online currencies that validate your cyber-identity’s worth.
When you start to care about that thing enough that it stays at the back of your head nagging you to check in on regular intervals, it’s time to take a step back.
The social networks will survive the loss of one less narcissist.