A few weeks ago I had a party. More of a friendly get-together, really. Around 10 pm, the evening’s momentum had begun to fade and people started doing what they do in such situations: checking Facebook. Since this shindig was at my house, I got a little offended. Looking to get to the bottom of this phenomenon, I asked one friend why he was logged on. The room was silent for about three seconds. “I don’t know,” he said. The phones disappeared and the party limped on for a few more hours before everyone either crashed or left. For the next few days, “I don’t know” ran through my head and sent shivers down my spine.
I’m 17 and I’ve never been into Facebook, or any social-media service, for that matter. Oh, sure, I’ve tried them all. I created a funny Twitter account, a Tumblr to keep up with my artsy friends, and yes, the run-of-the-mill Facebook log-on, but none of them have stuck. Somewhere along the line, I realized I was the only person my age I knew who didn’t have an addiction to these services. I decided I should figure out why people love them so much, or perhaps why I’ve never gotten hooked.
I’ve asked my friends why they use Facebook. Most said they wanted to keep in touch with friends or see funny stuff people post. I like my friends and humor, so neither of these helped me understand my problem. One friend told me he uses Facebook as a self-updating calendar. Since the only times I’ve gone on my Facebook in the last two years were for dates and times, I can relate to that. Still, though, that’s a minor use, and it didn’t really answer my question.
Maybe it isn’t the end of the Facebook experience that puts me off, but the means. When I’ve logged on to see what everybody’s doing and see my own photo tagged out there in the ether, I mainly see two things: funny images and people talking about something that either just happened, is happening, or is about to happen. Neither of those sound very harmful. Hell, they could be constructive at times. So why doesn’t it appeal to me? For weeks I couldn’t answer this riddle.
Eventually, I noticed something about myself: I chew my words. I think out everything I might say and consider if it would be constructive or not, and if it isn’t, chances are I won’t say it. Since I’m pretty sure nobody cares how awesome my toast was this morning, I feel no need to post about it.
Not picking through
posts about other people’s toast does put me at a slight disadvantage.
People know about events posted on Facebook before I do, if I learn
about them at all. But the beauty in not being invited with a click is
that if I’m going to be told about a party, I know for a fact that they
put more thought into me than a tired checking of a box. In a similar
fashion, if any information about someone is important enough for me to
know, it will spin off from the Internet and into casual conversation.
In the end, I get the best of Facebook without all the “toast” posts.
I’d call that a victory.