A few years ago I went through a pretty bad break-up.(1) Not only that, but for quite some time afterward she went to a dark place and did all kinds of things – some forgivable, some not as much. And there’s one thing she did that I personally find wholly unforgivable, I don’t care who’d’ve done it. Generally when this kind of thing happens, I cut all ties with a person.(2)
So, I cut all ties with her, which was fairly easy since she lives two hours away. Oh she emailed me every now and again, usually when something went well in my life and she had to let me know she was happy for me. But I didn’t want to hear it. So I blocked her. I long ago deleted her phone number and all that sort of stuff, so I pretty much have no reason whatsoever to ever encounter her.
But I do. More often than I care for. All because of Facebook.
She and I have a small handful of mutual friends, still. And through these friends I sometimes see her name and read her comments. Or sometimes I don’t comment because I know she’ll comment later, which is I suppose terribly weak on my part but when someone’s put this kind of bad taste in your mouth, you want to be not just quit of her but all-the-way quit. You don’t even want to read about her on the bathroom wall in the dirtiest, dodgiest latrine in the Northern Hemisphere.
But Facebook doesn’t care about that. In fact, Facebook is very interested in it in its own way.
You see, what matters to Facebook – and many other social sites – isn’t the number of users. It doesn’t matter one lick if you have one billion customers because they could all be gone next year. Ask MySpace, if you can find anyone to talk to over there.
What matters, I’ve come to realize, are the connections between those one billion users. I’m not sure what the figures are, but let’s say that within those one billion users there are maybe 250 million relationships. Or it might go the other way: 250 trillion. Like I said, I’m not sure. But every single one of those one billion users are more likely to keeping using as long as Facebook gives them a means to relate to each other.(3) How they choose to relate to each other – be it through stupid games or lazy ‘likes’ or even Faecbook’s new Poke app – doesn’t matter nearly as much as that Facebook has those relationships to begin with. The only reason it develops new ways for you to interact with people is so that you’ll keep interacting with people, and hopefully, with more and more people.
And so, yeah. The fact that she and I used to be in a relationship is important to Facebook. A fair number of people maintain friendships with exes,(4) or don’t keep them as exes for very long.(5) Friendships can be rekindled, and people who haven’t talked to each other since high school suddenly become very interested in each other. Facebook knows this,(6) and all it does is provide an easy way for people to reconnect when and if they want.
This is why some groups believe that Facebook leads to adultery. But it doesn’t. Facebook leads to relationships. What we do with those relationships is entirely up to us.
And so, because of Facebook, I keep running into this person, though in the natural course of things I never would. And Facebook wants me to keep running into her because that relationship is its bread and butter. And Facebook wants me to keep tabs on a whole slew of other people I don’t really care about either. Because Facebook doesn’t want me. It wasn’t my relationships. Since relationships are emotional bonds, Facebook wants my emotions. And it will keep poking my emotions with a hot stick, over and over again, on the off-chance that doing so will re-create yet one more emotional bond it can convert to cash.
Like I said: right or wrong, I generally cut all ties people who violate the principles I most adhere to. So, I’m cutting all ties with Facebook. I will continue blogging here, and you can always reach me by email. But come Dec. 31, I’m breaking up with Facebook.
- You can probably replace “went through” with “caused,” though I believe that it takes two to make a bad break-up.
- I’ll point out that people often judge me as fickle and some have suggested that my ability to completely cut people off is pathological, if not sociopathic. This may or may not be true. In my defense I’ll say only this: Life is short and I see no reason to waste it with people who knowingly violate the principles I most strongly adhere to.
- I’ll go ahead and point out that “keep using” is a term addicts use when referring to maintaining the drug of their choice.
- I hear, at least, that this is possible. I’m more of a I-tell-people-she-died-in-a-car-bombing type, myself.
- And then don’t keep them as non-exes very long, etc.
- I don’t think of Facebook as some monolithic Moloch. When I say “Facebook knows this,” I mean the people who run things at Facebook know this. Though, to be clear, while I think television is something of a benign addiction, I think Facebook to be actively maleficent. Television just wants us to forget we’re watching. Facebook wants us to forget we’re being watched.