Wednesday, October 13, 2010

How Facebook Ate My Time

I didn’t want to join Facebook. Honestly. But I kept getting invitations from everyone I have ever known since before I was conceived. Dozens of needy messages appeared in my inbox from people desperately, repeatedly pleading for me to be their Friend. It began to feel like I was the last holdout on the planet. Finally, I succumbed. I joined the cult. And strange things happened.

My two daughters "friended" me and I now knew where they were and what they were doing, occasionally in more detail than I might have wanted. It became easy to keep in touch with friends as well as the remotest of acquaintances. Even people I found personally irritating and for whom I had negative interest, kept me abreast of their nauseating whereabouts. I learned how to post my vacation pictures online and bore people senseless across the miles. I could multitask, conducting instant message conversations with people while reading my Wall, ignoring invitations and puzzling over some incomprehensible online game people seemed to be playing. I could offer LIKE votes of confidence for cool comments or links and skip over all the dumb stuff, of which there was no shortage. (Please don't ask me to LIKE your commitment to your Personal Savior. If you are that insecure, run to your nearest house of worship or become a Hare Krishna.)

Then, one day, I realized with horror that the seemingly innocuous Facebook was methodically, maniacally eating my time. I would start to read the latest writing on my Wall and hours later realized that I was still caught in the spidery web of social networking. Facebook postings invaded my email. The beast was everywhere. There was no escape.

It all seemed so innocent at first. Now I was lying in the gutter clutching my laptop—a social-a-holic on a daily binge. I wondered if previous generations had felt the same sense of creeping dread about the new-fangled technologies that had invaded their lives like intractable parasites—the car, radio, telephone, television. Not to mention more recent disruptions to our way of life including cable, computers, Internet, cell phones and GPS.

When something that didn’t previously exist in your life suddenly becomes an indivisible part of it, it becomes one more uncomfortable dependency, one more small loss of personal control.

Unless a 2012 catastrophe wipes out all communication, the social-networking monster is here to stay. It  hungrily eyes my personal time like a wolf tracking its prey. Its Boolean drool runs down my computer screen. Having consumed and digested me, we are now inseparable.

1 comment:

  1. And all too funny and all too true, Nancy. I recently succumbed, myself, but only so that I could check out the profile of a potential babysitter for my children on a recent trip out of state (my cousin set it up and sent the link to her Facebook profile). As soon as I joined it felt as though I'd poked my head up through the floor of a party that had been going on for years. Everyone in the room stopped for a moment, turning to look at me and say, "Well, it's about time! Where have you been? Where are you going? I mean now, and the next minute, what about yesterday? Wanna play, post a pic, Do you remember me? Are you single?

    For the most part, I've re-submerged, but I am glad to be able to peek into the party room now and again at my leisure to see if anyone has also surfaced of late with whom I might want to chat.

    Love the blog, btw (oh, god...I used internet speak! I'm one of them....) :)