Ten Reasons Why Facebook is the Soulless Bane of Modern Life

I’m well aware of the painful irony of castigating the world’s most popular social network on a blog, another form of social network. But I don’t have the money to put stamps on hundreds of handwritten letters, so here it goes:

1. Facebook is not social.

Saying hello to someone on the street is social. Having dinner or a drink (or getting falling down drunk…) with someone is social. Exchanging pleasantries or even bodily fluids is social (after all, it can possibly lead to a “social” disease). Arguing while waving your arms frantically at someone is social. Knitting while sitting on a couch together is social (sad, but social). Typing pithy comments about someone’s vacation pictures you vaguely know while hurtling along the Interstate at 80 MPH is not social. It’s just stupid. And dangerous.

2. Does that “net”-work for you?

Feeling trapped? Nothing is more representative of modern life than a forum for “self-expression” which requires you to fill out lame little standardized electronic boxes. Don’t color out of the lines! Touted as a multi-billion dollar computer platform, most of Facebook just boils down to a computerized version of those dorky name tags that say “My name is ____”.

Just think of that word — network. Nothing more than a bunch of virtual tendrils, designed to ensnare and entrap. The question you should be asking is who is the spider and when is he going to come along and suck out all of your vital juices? If you feel like a fly on the wall. Well…Buzz, buzz.

3. All those douchebags with marketing degrees are simultaneously yelling “gotcha”!

Marketers used to actually have to work to sell you stuff and get your attention. Now you come to them, by the millions, like so many lemmings careening off a cliff. And because you are an open (face)book, they know exactly what you want. In fact, some of the stuff they know you want you didn’t even know you wanted…

4. Individuality?

Heck, you can’t even change the bloody typeface on your page. (Note: See #2). And remember, if you post a picture you’d better not be doing anything too inappropriate. Some bot might come along and be offended. I, for one, welcome our Facebook bot overlords. All hail Zuckerberg!

5. All the world’s a stage.

Unfortunately, everyone in the audience is too busy working on their own acting career. Of course, you too can be the star in your very own movie (not sure what the working title is now, but they used to call it “Life”). Everything is a performance. Look, I got a new job! I have moved further up the rung and am mastering the cogs of capitalism. Please, “like” me. Why won’t you like me? Do I need to do something more extravagant? How is it that over half a billion bad actors clamoring for attention isn’t more people’s idea of hell? When did we all become such showoffs? Reality TV? TV is our reality! We’re always on camera, always observed and observing. Too bad none of us are just bloody living anymore. I don’t need to see the beautiful view you saw on your trip to Aruba or walk around the neighborhood. You saw it. It’s yours. That’s precious. Enjoy it.

6. Whatever you’re doing, someone else is doing something cooler.

Facebook is a constant reminder that no matter what you are doing, it is lamer than what a dozen of your “friends” are doing. Just booked a trip to the beach on Maui? Whatever. Your “friend” just bought an island in the south Pacific. Bought a new car? Your “friend” just bought a new yacht. New baby? Your “friend” had triplets! (Well, on second thought, maybe you are better off there…). A regression back to grade school is the order of the day on Facebook. It’s like one big game of “Oh yeah! Well…”.

7. In old sci-fi novels and movies, weren’t hive minds a bad thing?

I remember an old episode of Star Trek where this guy Harry Mudd had found a whole planet of androids. And there were groups of them — copies — such that you had Alan 216 or Mary 109. Facebook is kind of like that. It’s almost impossible to miss someone famous dying these days because fifty of your closest friends will comment about it. Sometimes they’ll even include some maudlin link to a relevant Youtube video. How touching. And some of these people who are venerated are pretty lame. No matter, its all fodder for Facebook.

I’m waiting for the day when some lunatic puts up a status update of “RIP Charles Manson” and the whole Goth world goes (lady) gaga about the passing of Marilyn. Give me a break! I guess the point, if there is one, is all the collective grief and, by extension, the sense of injustice is totally bogus when all it amounts to is clicking on “like” or “share”. Which brings me to…

8. How many cute puppies does it take to stop a dictator from wiping out a whole town?

Politics. Oh yeah. Remember when that word used to imply that the discussion or debate was about an actual place or space? You know, the polis? Now it’s random rants about how dumb some conservative is, or how bleeding heart some liberal is. Mostly it distills down to re-posting (i.e. “sharing”) some clever cartoon about how we are all totally fucked. Well, if things are so bad, do something! Those occupy people, as aimless and indigent and generally stoned as they were, were doing something. Until Facebook came along and turned it all into a bunch of idle slogans. Facebook has become the dumping ground for frustration and impotent rage. It’s as if it was a cleverly constructed release valve for dissent and criticism. Almost seems planned that way. Hmm…

Oh, yeah, and by the way, the answer to the question above is…none. You need a LOL cat.

9. Your friendships begin to resemble that show — Friends.

I hated that show. I really did. It reeked of a neutered middle-class complacency that makes me want to kick puppies (but not the really cute ones people always post on Facebook — just the ugly, faceless puppy in the crowd…). Everyone was always being clever and pithy and drinking coffee on a sofa on Friends. Kind of like what people do now when they are on Facebook.

I like the idea of friends. I used to have friends. I used to hang out with them and see them too. I don’t have to anymore. I live a completely alienated, isolated and lonely life as an academic (“Oh, he’s one of those!”) in a town and state I basically hate. But with Facebook, my plight is supposed to be somehow more bearable. Your experience may be somewhat similar. I sincerely hope not.

10. Like the real world, Facebook has class (but not the good kind!)

Well, no it doesn’t. But it has developed ghettos and upscale neighborhoods. Whether you muck around on Farmville or post stories by way of the New York Times, everything about Facebook is just part of that time honored human tradition of creating arbitrary distinctions.

The only distinction I think is important anymore is this — are you part of the Facebook herd or are you still vaguely trying to maintain some aspect of your humanity? We in the techno-utopias of the “west” may pity or even mock those poor souls for whom Facebook is only a computer program. But I, for one, envy them. If only they also had a bit of peace and food and clean water…

So, yeah, Facebook sucks. Modern life kind of sucks too. Am I bitter? You bet! Angry? Yup! What would make me happy? If dozens, even hundreds (dare I hope for thousands?) of people put a link to this blog post up on…You guessed it: Facebook! I won’t know about it though, since for now (and hopefully, if I’m strong, forever) my Facebook account is deactivated. But maybe, in some little way, I’m not.

8 Responses to “Ten Reasons Why Facebook is the Soulless Bane of Modern Life”

  1. chronosynclasticteacosy Says:

    Vive la résistance.

  2. The Necromancer Says:

    Sadly, I think “la résistance” is futile. You will be absorbed…

  3. Michael Says:

    Outstanding Sebastian. Awesome. This needs to be read by a wider audience.

  4. The Necromancer Says:

    Thanks Michael. Since I’m not on Facebook anymore that’s not likely to happen! :)

  5. Allegra Says:

    I stumbled across this article while perusing groups to join on LinkedIn (one of the few “social media outlets” I will allow myself because I love to pretend it’s strictly professional and at least no one is posting pictures of their cousin’s baby’s first tooth or filling the inter-web with tweets like “I’m tired), but I digress.

    Each of the points you made is completely correct, but I think, generally, Facebook is a mirror to the dwindling image of the true social life in our world today. Because information is so easy, in fact, too easy to come by these days, there is little patience for applying the time, critical thinking or intellectual and emotional investment in in-depth understanding or anything or anyone (including one’s self).

    To understand anything, most of us are willing to invest no more than the time it takes to run a Google search or flip through a “friend’s” Facebook pictures. In most cases, any more than that is too much. After all, there are countless things just waiting for us to discover next to nothing about and an equal number of ways for us to regurgitate those misunderstandings as gospel to others who just can’t wait to be blessed by our self-important rants. :)

    I think you should start a “Facebook is for shallow douches” or a “Fck Facebook – Get Social” Facebook page and encourage people to join and then deactivate their accounts.

    Thanks for this article and thanks for giving me something to cosign.

  6. The Necromancer Says:

    @Allegra: Thanks for your in-depth and understanding comment! I couldn’t agree more with your assessment of some of our contemporary social malaise. Ironically, some of the connections we manage to make are like this one — a slightly more involved reflection of our lives and social circumstances. Technology, man, it’s always a double-edged sword.

    The shallowness of contemporary culture is a concern. What it means, and why we should be concerned, is less clear.

    Anyway, I like your idea of starting an anti-Facebook Facebook page, but I think it has been done already. Anyway, you get into this whole dilemma of never escaping the trap there.

    I have, ironically enough, started to use Twitter. More as an educational and pseudo-career-oriented networking tool. And as a outlet for that constant stimulation of “countless things” we all seek these days.

    I think, sadly, the only way to escape is to truly escape. Go somewhere that cell towers and the internet and such have yet to reach (well, that’s nowhere…but at least yet to reach fully). People still do that, I think. Most netizens think the whole world exists in these little boxes, but it’s often surprising to think of the many ways that so much of it doesn’t…

  7. enreal Says:

    Brilliant!!!!! Each and every one of your points!!!

    I am one of the few who don’t have Facebook…never had Facebook…and (hopefully) never will…

    I feel it is dangerous to social skills…I feel that the energy put into it is also harmful…it causes envy and it is a manipulator…for people can choose how to make themselves appear and that can lead to false trust…it lets people live a life that is not theirs…I want to live my life with my story…and I want to witness it first hand…It may be sad, but it’s real.

  8. The Necromancer Says:

    @enreal: Thanks for the enthusiastic response. I know if you like something I’ve written at least I’ve hit on the soulful essence of existence. In some way.

    What you say about a kind of inauthentic misrepresentation on Facebook seems so relevant. Authenticity appears in such short supply these days. And yet, ironically, it was an obsession of “the moderns” (i.e. in the literary sense — Joyce, Beckett, etc…). Funny that we like to think of ourselves as so modern. But maybe, in some respects, we’ve regressed a little…

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