I had planned on coming to this coffee shop (a chain, btw) to do some reading for my thesis, but it seems that yet again I have been distracted by Facebook (and Shebomb too of course!). Oh the woe, oh the pain it causes me, to know that 8 months from now I will be paying my price in tears, sleep, sacrificed fun, a sacrificed senior spring even(??!?!?!), because of the countless hours (days probably) that I have spent on facebook while I should be doing other things.
But what does “other things” even mean? What should I be doing instead of this? Yes, it is important that I finish my thesis so that I may graduate, this week’s paper so that I may pass this class so that I may graduate, and this week’s 400-page reading about Bosnia and Herzegovina so that I may receive an adequate participation grade to offset my aforementioned failed paper to that I may pass the class so that I may graduate. In the back of my mind I know that I MUST GRADUATE, but after that–why is Facebook so taboo as an extracurricular activity? If I enjoy keeping up with old contacts, and as is more frequently the case for me keeping up with news, pop culture, and interesting fads, why is this pastime so frowned upon? Stumbleupon has certainly opened my eyes to the art, technology, and thoughts of under-30s across the globe. From sites that I have come upon by chance, I have pursued interests in street art and performance in “real” mediums–books, movies, LIFE, etc. Sites like Stumbleupon are useful because they provide an insight into what the cultured, moderately hipster world appreciates on the web, but how does facebook compare? Does the combination of interesting media and internet stalkage of your nearest and dearest highschool bullies = the death of productivity for all? I embarked upon a google search (oh the mighty google empire–a topic for another post entirely!—a quest for a cultural officiant to crack fresh peppercorn flakes of logic and reason onto the tossed salad that is my brain.
Though I do find this hipster quite pretentious, I admire his cojones for sending the message. At first watch I felt very affronted, and even defensive of facebook’s non-intrusiveness in my life. Yet the more I thought about it, the more I realized that shuffling at warp speed through pictures of my best friend from 4th grade’s new tattoos is not as cerebral an activity as I had imagined. This sort of exercise was not leading me to the greener pastures of high culture in art museums or books, and it wasn’t even introducing me to crappy pop culture or news headings about children in Oklahoma found scalped or dead in trunks. While I can at least share my love/hate of Grey’s Anatomy with other stalwart fans (and in doing so use this lovely human brain of mine to reason the benefits and drawbacks of the musical episode), browsing friend’s pictures and walls creates a void of time and brain activity. The time I spend doing this sort of pointless, circular stalking on facebook is absolutely forgettable, and in agreement with the dark and twisty 20something in the video, I don’t want the quality of my free time to match that of a blackout drunk.
In comparison to the first, this video romanticizes the man’s life on facebook quite a bit. I did feel charmed by the presentation, but I found myself expecting more of an ironic twist near the end. I think I liked it because the emphasis was on the exciting life he lead beyond the screen, and not so much on his daily presence on the site (for realz, he changed his prof pic like 4 times throughout his life). I also want to share my thrilling life with my real friends and acquaintances, but maybe it isn’t necessary that I make old flames jealous or flaunt my world-traveler status in front of people I hardly know. Facebook can be great for building one’s “brand”, and as much as I hate to use the lexicon of capitalism, I do think the brand metaphor holds for any young person trying to nail down that one faded Polaroid snapshot that screams ME!ME! It is kind of cool to skim through 7 years of profile pictures and see your little teenage self morphing into a beautiful voluptuous butterfly with SOME SEMBLANCE OF STYLE. I even used my prof-pic evidence to convince myself once and for all that a semester in Russia had not completely altered the texture of my soul–I still pick pictures that highlight my unique sense of humor rather than appropriate or attractive ones.
After reflecting this topic for at least a day and a half (us young people come to conclusions so fast!), I sort of decided that if my close group of friends decided to abandon facebook, I would certainly have less need for it. I spend a lot of facebook energy passing on cool music videos and such to my best pals, and while a casual album-perusal elicited by the newsfeed is usually in order, I end up spending way too much time stalking, judging, and feeling anxious, when I could be out on the town stalking and judging actual strangers without the anxiety of reciprocation.
Is facebook a waste of time? Would I feel more fulfilled if I was reading a book about Joseph Brodsky right now? Or if I was sketching someone sitting in this coffee-chain? Or playing a board game with the homeless man in the corner? I would certainly feel less procrastinatory with most* of these choices (*I don’t see any boardgames around and social interactions with strangers tend to fluster me). Would I feel healthier if I abandoned my social safety net? Is twitter maybe a more appropriate media outlet for what I REALLY want out of the social networking giant, which is sharing information with like-minded folks? Probably! Will I abandon facebook? No!
I am definitely going to experiment with my network usage, or at least attempt to be a little more discriminatory about how I spend my precious time here on this great earth. I will let you know how it goes, but until then don’t forget to check the She-bomb.com facebook regularly for updates yeayeayea!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!^%$#^&*()_
PS: If you are interested, here is the penultimate anti-facebook blog