Facebook Failed Us

How I escaped the cult and rejoined the real world

By Roxanne Broda-Blake

Our lisping leader Mark Zuckerburg, creator of Facebook, sat down with Diane Sawyer on July 21, 2010, better known as the day Facebook hit 500 million users and became the world’s third-largest country. Beneath his bizarre Caesar-like haircut, Zuckerburg spouted his voyeuristic dogma—the bug-eyed billionaire knows he can fuck us over as much as he wants, but we’ll still worship his dynasty.

I say “we,” but I guess I don’t count. I deleted my Facebook in May. Oh, excuse me, I “deactivated” it because, like a manipulative ex-girlfriend with low self-esteem, I can always go back for more. Living off this particular grid feels good, but I’m surprised how slowly the rebellion grew. Between “exhibitionist” creeper-status community pages and Facebook’s own Foursquare—where your friends can sadistically “check you in” (to what? Is this the fucking Matrix?)—I want to know why anyone still bothers with Zuckerburg’s mess.

During the interview, everyone’s favorite cult organizer emphasized the “democracy” of Facebook, stating that “it’s really the people themselves who have gotten us to this state.” Scary thought. But there is a thread of truth in the CEO’s claim that Facebook’s “empowered users” actually drive the ship—despite all the protesting, whining, and kvetching at Zuckerburg and his minions for every update and interface change.

It’s because, as Zuckerburg said, he gave a voice to our most asinine and mundane self-indulgent sides. That outlet then became an addiction. We expect and crave over-sharing. We feel entitled to a consistent stream of updates and facts; however, outside the lines of the stalker-feed lie nothing but white space. The intrinsic joy of sharing with our friends evaporates.

“Our whole theory is that people have real connections with the world,” Big Brother Zuckerburg told TIME in 2007. “People communicate most naturally and effectively with their friends and the people around them.” He then described his aim to mimic those connections on the Internet. Even though people already communicate naturally and effectively with their “real connections,” they still waste 500 billion minutes per month “communicating.” Because now that I can instantly show my friends a video of a baby inside a watermelon, we’ll be closer than ever.

But I haven’t lost touch with anyone (well, nobody important) since I “deactivated.” Sure, people I haven’t spoken to since grade school held a virtual funeral when I posted a bye-bye status with my email address in it: “We’ll miss you!”, “Here’s a list of inside jokes so we don’t forget!”, and “So sad to see you’re leaving!” What the hell—I’m not dying. In fact, I’m much happier without Facebook, and I think it’s time we stopped bitching and moaning every time Zuckerburg makes a new change. I hearby call all citizens of Facebook to emigrate back into the real world: deactivate, kids.

Illustration by Emily Watanabe.


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