Like shoplifting or ending a relationship, it just gets easier every time.
The mouse drags the cursor to its target, hovers briefly and I left click onto the “X” in the far right corner. Immediately a dialog box pops us asking me if I really want to delete Joe as my “friend?” I confirm and move on to the next. They are my collection, the ones I have ferreted out or answered response to in the affirmative when a “friend” request rolled in. But for the most part, they are not my friends; some I have not seen since grade school, most I would probably not loan money to, and I doubt if I would attend their funerals if they died. They are the watered down versions of friends, the occasional, random and erstwhile acquaintances that we all can do nothing to avoid in our lives. But the “delete” key on this social media site thinks otherwise. It cautions the operator with all the finality and import of a switch pulled on a criminal in the electric chair, or a revolver held to the side of the head.
“Are you sure you want to do this? There’s no turning back now,” it seems to ask?
If it’s one less thing we need in our society; it’s a dilution of a word that used to mean something.
I scroll further, clicking and “X”ing my way through the list; a co-worker, people I may have hiked with once or twice, and my oldest son. I know where they live, play and work if I need to get in touch with them.
Thanks to a CNBC special on the ills of Facebook and the difficulty of opting out, I’m laying the groundwork at this point, culling the list so that when I eventually deactivate my account, it will be as seamless as possible. One by one, out will go all of my “friends”, followed by my pictures. It’s liberating.
Like most of my baby-boomer contemporaries, I was late to the party setting up a Facebook account. I only started one after my son asked me to look at his “Wall.” I complied and soon found myself pulled into the whirlpool of the freedoms of social media sites. I searched out old school mates, people I had lost contact with, and others whom I had only a passing familiarity with. I was seduced.
Before long, I was sharing my own postings, commenting or “liking” on others. It was fun in the way that cocktail party chatter is, but then it became stale. I no longer found value in reading about someone else’s bad day, or the great cheeseburger they had, or how it was raining. I knew it was raining; I looked out the window.
And like all things “free”, a price was to be exacted in the form of a further erosion of privacy. My privacy sold to the highest bidder. The DMZ (Devious Mark Zuckerberg) was making bank off of my info and lining his own pockets while the masses playfully wallowed in their mud of connection with long lost buds. We were duped, and PT Barnum would have been proud of the young charge from Harvard.
I reached the last of my friends and kept just the one before beginning the exorcism that had begun hours earlier. I moved through the steps to deactivate and had to swear to my decision one final time.
“Are you sure you really want to deactivate your Facebook account? Evan will really miss you.”
I hovered over the “confirm” soft key and thought I saw a tear form in the eye of my last Facebook “friend”. Yes I really did want to deactivate. I clicked.
I sat at the computer for a long while, waiting to endure the coming wrath. When nothing happened, I checked my pulse; I was still alive. I listened through the window to the house next door. A neighbor who had been one of my FF’s was out in the yard with her children. It sounded just the same. I switched on the news and observed that the world was no better off or worse because I had been an apostate. The herd of one half billion had been thinned, if only by one. And no one would ever notice.