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Facebook: This Is Where I Leave You

“It would be a terrible mistake to go through life thinking people are the sum total of what you see.”

— Debra Monk

 It has been four full days since I officially pulled the plug on the life-support system that was and is Facebook.  A few things are immediately apparent; we as a human population will definitely need thousands of chapters of Facebook Anonymous if we are to truly move into a new modality of style and substance in our daily lives.

Facebook is too deeply entrenched into the fabric of humanness worldwide to simply go away as so many wish it would.  If Facebook vanished tomorrow, by their own implosive hand or by some external overseer-ship, millions if not billions of beings would be in sad, sad, shape.  Personally, these past few days I have felt the elastic pull of the pixelated print drawing me to it like a moth, over and over and over throughout the day “just to check messages”.  But like Gertrude Stein said of the Oakland of her long ago youth, “There is no ‘there’, there”.  The icons are gone, the Messenger app on the phone and pad are no longer.  A momentary tightening of the chest occurs as I hear the verbage in my head speak clearly, “No one can FIND me!!!”

But I chose this.  I opted out of this Magical Mystery Tour of the universe for my own reasons and my own good.  I chose life. As the late Kevyn Aucoin once said,

“Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain… To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices – today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity but embrace it.”

It may be worth noting (or not) that Kevyn died of an overdose of acetaminophen poisoning (aspirin actually) from taking way to many painkillers shortly after this quote was uttered. His choice was radically different from mine on that particularly fateful morning.  And while speaking of choices as Kevyn himself expressed, while his wishes were for his ashes to be spread over Hawai’i where he had been married to his husband; in the end, he is interred in a Southern Gothic Vault next to his nightmare of a mother….at her insistence.  Choice is a relative thing it would seem to me, be careful who your relatives are.

But back to my “No one can FIND me!!!” lament.  I, in turn, can also find no one that I once had ready and immediate access to, not without some effort; looking up their email and writing them an actual communiqué, finding their long miss-remembered phone number and giving them a ring (something else I have been more and more louche to do in the last few years…..I despise talking on the phone).  So I am what I accuse others of being; self-promoting, self-obsessed, and shallow to an extent that shocks me to my core.

I am not practicing what I preach, and preach……is something that I do with abandon, ask anyone……or please, don’t.

In my several-week structured Farewell to Facebook, I gave the huddled masses of my “friends” ample opportunity to know where in the wide world I would be hiding after my timely demise from the Teal-tinged Temptress Mr. Zuckerberg has foisted upon the planet. My email, phone number, and webpages, have been the same for 20 years; those that know me know this but, like most of us with even a passing relationship with our mobile phones, we no longer know actual phone numbers and auto-fill takes care of those thousands of email characters that elude our fat-fingered typing skills.

How many of the 666 “friends” that I deleted will take the time to actually write or call when I cross their minds?  How many of them would I answer if they did call? How much do I care?

I said I was leaving Facebook to take back the wasted hours of my daily routine and start again, using those hours on the things I really have a passion for; writing, photography, the arts, my family and closest friends.  But after four days I hover, waiting expectantly for the ding and the ping of incoming notifications and mail, mail that is oddly absent and a machine that is strangely silent.

But the empty screen is slowly starting to beckon me, the keyboard lights up at my touch taunting me to tap, to create; to be the better self I promised I would become.

And so I sit to ponder and put forth.  Offer up my observations on what I am learning, day-by-day, as I move further into the void left by the space that was Facebook in my life.  Many people I have met at parties this week speak of a total envy that I have done this.

“I want to DO that, too!!”

“ I’m going to take a break and come back in six months.”

“I’m only going to use it to promote my business, art, book, _____, etc.”

I acknowledge that I chided (a bit) my Friends List as I was leave-taking them, poking gently at their responsibly to find me without the ease and comfort of the Facebook interfaces. But four days in I realize the fallacy and the fear and the outright audaciousness of that challenge.  What if no one does find me?  Were they really “friends”?  Do I really care? And most importantly……

Will I take the effort to reach out to them?

We are, after all, in this together; this Facebook, this world, this life.  As one friend said to me yesterday at a birthday party “When I go back to Facebook I’m really only interested in funny pet videos and comedy postings.”  Really? Even I know myself better than that. I know I would rush back to the latest political rants, raise my already iffy blood pressure, re-post, comment on, and be reviled by the idiotic responses to my self-serving, poke-the-dragon posts that are intended I now see to do only one thing; promote a version of myself that I wish I was in real life but that I can more easily attain by portraying as myself in virtual reality.

Wow.  What if we all were to simply act and be who we really profess to want to be?  Would we be validated enough with the few folks we actually interact with in our daily lives or would we immediately default back, needing the mass click-bait “likes” of the otherwise silent masses for our justification?

Now we can amplify our texts with emoticons but can we amplify our souls?

And so, in the end, I am brought back to Debra Monk.

“It would be a terrible mistake to go through life thinking people are the sum total of what you see.”

— Debra Monk

If we are what people “see” of us on Facebook than I believe we are then only two-dimensional versions of actual human beings.  Debra Monk has made a career out of portraying others on stage and screen, creating virtually real human characters out of words written on a page, words meant to inflect and inject life into a human performance.

Facebook is nothing but words, gazillions of them; written on pages, millions of them; that are meant to portray actual human emotions, thoughts, opinions, and information.  The challenge for us all is to go out and actually re-become the humans we once were and stop waiting for others to tell us who they think we should be. 

Facebook:  This is where I leave you.

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Robby Sherwin is a writer/photographer who splits his time between Portland, OR and Key West.  His roaming mind bounces off topics from politics to family.  His past and future musings may be found on pdxwiz.wordpress.com

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