friend of the year.

Mark Zuckerburg has been named Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year”. Yay for him. I’m not like many that would argue for or against his being given this “honor”. No, I don’t really mind. Not that Mark, or Time Magazine for that matter, really care whether I mind or not. I bring up his being named “Person of the Year” in order to discuss his creation: Facebook. I was one of the early faithful to this social networking site. I proudly announced to the world, or those whom would listen, that I was one of the few, the chosen few, who had a Facebook account. This was back in time when in order to have an account you had to be a college student. I understand the financial incentives that Mark had to expand the site’s coverage. I’m not arguing against that. What bothers me, however, is the integration of Facebook into people’s lives.

I know, you’re probably sitting there thinking, “Geez, buddy, give it a rest. Why such a Luddite? You’re using technology to advance your position.” And I would agree, somewhat. This blog may be my replacement. Sure. But, what it’s not is all encompassing as Facebook. I’m not constantly checking my blog to see if anyone has commented on my posts. I’m not browsing my friend’s blogs, trying to uncover some salacious gossip. I’m not perusing their photos in hope of feeling a bit closer to my friend for having done so. No, I use this blog to write about things I am actually involved with. Facebook, on the other hand, is the thing most people are involved with nowadays. And there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. Where I grow concerned is where people somehow think that their life is worth ‘less’ because they do not have a Facebook account. Or, they haven’t updated said account in several days. Or, their status updates aren’t somehow as witty as others they know. Or, when someone feels they know someone simply because they spent the past hour browsing their somone’s likes, hobbies, and photos on their profile. This is what bothers me.

And, because of these issues, I decided last June to de-activate my account. I did not fully delete it. Mainly because Facebook is useful for many things and I wanted to test the waters before I went all in. It does provide a useful platform and avenue of communication. Aside from this, I did not think Facebook was worth my time—at least for the time being. So, I forwent my account and all the privileges it provides. I was no longer able to see my friends’ photos, status updates, or latest interests. In order to get the lowdown on my friends, I was forced to…wait for it….ACTUALLY CALL THEM! Gasp. I know, what a tragic thought: In order to keep abreast of the lives of my friends, I was required to spend time with them. Actual time. Real time. In their presence. I would like to say that because of this I’ve been terribly busy keeping up with friends and the like. To say this, however, would be misleading. Grant it, I have given more effort to most of my friendships, but not so much that it actually felt like “effort”.

Sure I haven’t spoken, or e-spoken or Facebook spoken, with some in months. But, what I found was that I wasn’t actually speaking with them to begin with. I was silently sneaking through their virtual lives unnoticed, and I would hardly call this interacting with them. Instead I was viewing their lives like some sort of slide show. Here’s a photo of John’s graduation. Here is John getting married. Here is John at the birth of his child. Here is John’s new car. And so on. All the while never actually speaking with John, aside from the occasional Facebook chat conversation or wallpost.

Am I bitter? Perhaps. Maybe I never had a good number of legitimate relationships to begin with. Maybe, out of my 332 friends, I was only really friends with about 10. Do I miss reminiscing about past events with friends? Sure. I would love to go and view a photo of a friend’s recent wedding. I would like to be able to broadcast this blog to my 332 friends. And, as hypocritical as this might be, I may do so in the near future. I am contemplating re-activating my account. It’s a no-go right now. I was too comfortable with my “relationships/friendships” when I had Facebook. I hardly ever reached out, other than sending a message or writing on their wall. What value is there in this? Many would argue there is immense value and that times have changed. Yesterday’s handwritten note is today’s text message. I can see this. I don’t like it, but I have to acknowledge that, as one of my favorite singers once declared, “The times they are a changin’”. Does this mean I should change, too? I guess that’s what this is really all about.

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