March: Facebook

Mac

“The only reason that people are here is because Facebook tells them to come here… The whole world is connected now. It’s all connected by Bill Gates and that rainman Zuckerberg. He and his Jews have connected the whole world and now they’re toppling regimes. And Egypt, and Japan, and the Jews are all peaceful together.” –Mac, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

If the internet was the Earth, Facebook would undoubtedly be America: loud, fat, lazy, devoid of culture, but such a force that it can’t be ignored without significant effort.

Facebook is singlehandedly the biggest waste of time of our generation, such a colossal timesink that it ranks up there with video games in the 90’s, TV in the 80’s, and radio in the 50’s (or whatever people did with their free time in the 50’s… Marble throwing? Horseshoe tossing? I really don’t know). I don’t think I’m the only one that feels a wash of self-loathing every time I login to my account and find 30 minutes evaporate into thin air.

And women, it’s time we have a frank discussion about what men use Facebook for: looking at funny statuses from their friends, bragging about the only highlight of their week as if it was a regular occurrence, and browsing pictures of hot girls. I’ll readily admit that last statement. To this day, I am still friends with people on Facebook that I have talked to less than 3 times for the sole reason that they are attractive women and will occasionally post pictures featuring their boobs in tightly fitted outfits. Cat’s out of the bag ladies!

So for March, I decided to give up Facebook. Truth be told, I needed a break after torturing myself in February. I was excited for March—no Facebook would be a welcome change, and I anticipated a number of ancillary benefits.

On March 1st, my alarm rang at 7:30am and I started the morning like I always do: by groggily groping around the side of my bed until my fingers found my laptop. The first internet browse of the day is a sacred moment for me, like Buddha’s morning meditation or Lindsay Lohan’s third line of cocaine, and I usually complete it with a patterned flurry of clicks and keystrokes. But this time, I made sure that my fingers were nowhere near the “F” key. Gmail, Reddit, and ESPN would have to suffice for now.

After gussying myself up for another Thursday, which included scarfing down the best breakfast I had eaten in a month—steak and bacon, with a side of “fuck yes” and a glass of “awesome”—I hopped on San Francisco’s Muni en route to work.

I should mention that on the whole, I’m a diligent worker. I’ll get into the office around 8:30 or 9, and usually won’t leave until 8 that night. But since I’m self-employed, there’s no one to crack the whip when my eyes glaze over and my mind wanders. Which means that I have the freedom to take breaks any time I want, for however long I want.

At its best, the break doubles as a quick jolt of exercise, a breath of fresh air, and a healthy snack. At its worst, it manifests into the embarrassing habit of completing a task and checking Facebook. Or hitting a roadblock and checking Facebook. Or feeling the air temperature change and checking Facebook. Even more pathetically, sometimes I would log-on, let the screen load, and like some sort of crack addict who needs a hit of blue and white to get through the day, immediately x out and get back to what I was doing.

So the first day of Facebook-less work was a definite change of pace. It took an additional layer of focus to make sure I didn’t fall into old patterns, but I knocked out a ton of to-dos, limited my day-time distractions to Reddit and ESPN, and made it through the day without a mishap. I went to bed relieved, knowing that this month was more than doable.

The next morning, I woke up at 7:30, rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, fumbled for my laptop, and opened two new tabs.

It took about two seconds for my screen to fill with a blue header and pictures of people I hardly knew when a wave of guilt crashed over me.

Goddamn it shit fucking fuck. Fucking 31 hours! Fuck.

And just like that, with the quarter inch push of my index finger, 0 for 3.

If I wasn’t already lying in bed, I would have hung my head in shame. This month was supposed to be easy! A break! And I couldn’t make it two days without participating in Rainman-Zuckerberg’s pet project.

God damn it.

But like the Santa Cruz blunt extravaganza and the Superbowl chicken mishaps, I had to reassemble the broken pieces of my shattered pride and soldier on.

Mid-way through March, I had maintained the resolution. However, my primary hypothesis—that I would become a productivity machine—was wrecked. Yes, my Facebook time in the previous 2 weeks consisted of 2 seconds, but that time was not reinvested in working. Instead, I was checking ESPN so frequently that I could have taken over Sports Center anchor duties (Stuart Scott, I’m coming for you and your lazy eye(s)!).

For all of its faults, Facebook is regularly touted as an excellent way to keep in touch with friends. But really, I noticed no difference. Sure, I missed the 1 or 2 relevant Facebook events—unlike the other thirty “UCLA’S DANCE MARATHON IS ONLY 9 MONTHS AWAY, JOIN MY FUNDRAISING GROUP!!!”—but you know how I found out about them? Get ready because the answer is a doozy: real life. Through friends. By talking to them. In person. Shocker!

I wish I could say that I compensated for March 2nd’s slip up with a clean record down the stretch. But I still found a way to screw up. Twice.

In my mild defense, both were work-related blunders. While working on projects for clients, I had to research their company history, for which I used Google. Each time, without thinking, I scrolled through their Google results and clicked their Facebook page. Although I immediately x’ed out, I couldn’t stop my brain from doing a flip and bicycle kicking the inside of my skull.

This month was a failure. I knew it, my brain knew it, even my lateral incisor knew it.

So when March 31st, found its way to me, I was pissed. Three months in a row, all of which I had invested more energy into than my previous 20 New Years’ Resolutions combined, and I didn’t have one victory to show for it. Just a mounting pile of false starts, disappointment, and a piece of chicken drifting somewhere through San Francisco’s sewers.

It was time for a shock to the system—a fundamental reevaluation of my life as a social 23 year-old living in a big, fun city.

For April, I would dip my toes into the waters of sobriety.

2 thoughts on “March: Facebook

  1. I took a month off of FB from mid October to mid November. I am online forever and I had to deactivate my account, and remove the password from auto password upload. It was a great but I really wanted to know what people were doing. So I signed up for Twitter, Pinterest, and other crappy sites in order to see what they were up to…. I must say I was heart broken as the amount of information that is on FB is insane. I returned to FB like I was Washington crossing the Delaware when I hit the 18th of November. I entered in my login and password and say all my friends on FB…. No one missed me but I re-read their activities and was so darn happy to know what’s happening to close and far friends.

    Also like the December article about the generalist and not being the specialist… Good luck on that front. Love the articles I have read and will follow your blog I happened on business insider.

    • That’s fascinating. I left Facebook years ago after being an addict, but I was thrilled to be off. It was liberating. And same, despite the popularity of my status messages at the time, no one noticed I wasn’t on it after I left. A close friend was stunned 6 months later when I told her I wasn’t on Facebook anymore.

      Got a few itches to go back on throughout the next year, but shrugged them off, and now I’d never go back. People complain so much about Facebook… I just listen to all the complaining, remember the self-loathing from when I was on it, and smile blissfully at not being on there anymore. But I suppose in the day and age of smart phone apps, Facebook’s hold on people nowadays is all the stronger and harder to resist.

      I don’t envy you, trapped in the grip of that blue beast…!

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