This morning, I've been having a kind of phantom bookmark syndrome. My mouse has been wandering over the space between Gmail and NBA.com where that blue little "F" used to live, like someone visiting the house they grew up in and realizing that it's been demolished. And then remembering, "Oh, shit, I'm the one working this wrecking ball. Die, old house, die!"
Growing up, my brother and I used to have this thing that we could never leave the basketball court in our backyard without making one last, really sweet fade-away from the corner, and yelling, "Ender!!!" A similar thing happened as I was about to leave the blacktop rectangle of social media this week. I got some of the most intelligent, gravity-defying comments about my decision from folks. Shouts out to my good buddies Bryan "I heard what you said" Joiner and Matt "Sneak Attack" Jackson for the great back-and-forth, which was carried out in the comments of this blog and FB, respectively. Matt brought up a really great point, a great response to David Foster Wallace's inner-death idea, that this type of death happens (and will happen) regardless of whether it's Facebook or TV or whatever. That the problem is with the user, not the medium.
Also, that word "user" is interesting. Ever since social networking has been around, people have used the language of addiction to describe their Crackberry relationship to it. It's usually an ironic usage, of course, in that the only real active substances involved in the equation is narcissism, with a complimentary side dish of voyeurism. But I think Facebook is the king of social media pharmacologisms. Why should it surprise anyone that head honchos over at FB respond to privacy/abuse criticism in a way as pragmatic and gangster as Stringer Bell. "If you don't want to use the shit, don't use the shit." ("But I'll always be here if you need me.")
By no means does deactivating my Facebook account mean that I'm dismissive of the site as a powerful force in contemporary life. Not that you care, but I have no less than two story ideas (one made-up, one not) that draw heavily (almost wrote "heavenly" just there; wishful thinking?) on Facebook language or the idea of Facebook, the way it infiltrates even the way you think about your day, which is a POWERFUL powerful notion (especially for those of us who trade in language, words, etc). For example, I know I'm not alone on this one: who among us HASN'T caught himself, from time to time, standing over the toilet and imagining the words "just laid a weird dump" doing a quick status fade-in beside your name on FB?
Please let me not be alone on this one.