For two years in the 1840’s Henry David Thoreau lived alone in the woods, on Walden Pond.
He grew his own food and lived simply, rarely seeing his fellow man.
I know how that must have felt.
I dropped off of Facebook a week ago.
When I began telling friends that I would be dropping from Facebook, their reactions were mostly stunned silence, or, in a few cases, caring attempts at intervention.
I should clarify one thing; when I say ‘friends,’ I mean Facebook ‘friends.’ I still have lots of REAL friends.
I know ten people who have never signed up on Facebook, half of them family members, half close friends. They vary in age but more of them are younger than me than older. The youngest is 23.
Surprisingly these ten people still seem to live rich, satisfying lives, and without ever having been ‘tagged.’ So I became curious to discover their secret.
A healthy person who has never smoked crack cocaine might not know what he or she is missing. This person is healthy and well-adjusted, and feels no impulse to destroy themselves with crack. A non-Facebook person also does not know he or she is missing anything. They will just continue to live their lives, without ever feeling the need – to borrow a phrase from Star Trek’s ‘Borg’ – to assimilate.
Assimilation into the Facebook machine is a difficult thing to reverse.
“Resistance is futile” is a more appropriate phrase than you might imagine.
I was on Facebook for a few years. My assimilation was well established.
Dropping off the site feels like what a junkie must feel, going cold turkey.
Day one involved the shakes, hyper-ventilating, and compulsively surfing Twitter and Huffington Post blogs, in search of a replacement fix.
My non-Facebook friends have also held onto that quaint 20th Century concept known as ‘privacy.’ If you don’t remember what privacy is, it is the opposite of Facebook.
Just think of everything that happens on Facebook. Now imagine the opposite of that. That’s privacy.
I hedged my bets with Facebook. They scared me into just ‘deactivating’ my account, rather than ‘deleting’ it.This gives me the option of returning and re-assimilating at some point in the future.
After a week, though, I am starting to like life without Facebook.
I am meeting a friend for a beer later. We will meet in person, speak to each other in something we used to call a ‘conversation.’ We will not be ‘tagged.’ No one will know where we are except us.
It’s almost as bizarre as moving to the woods, to live on Walden Pond.
January 11, 2012