Farewell, Facebook

Story by Rob Hanson

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Robert William David Hanson
(1988-2010)

I suppose if the old joke that relationships are only official if they are on Facebook is true, I technically have no friends. By removing my existence from the world of social networking, I have, in essence, committed electronic suicide.

I have been dead for nearly three weeks now, and it feels damn good.

Before we tap into that flood of warm emotions, let me assure you this is not a column written by some crotchety prude who simply doesn’t understand technology and gave up. For the past four years of my life, I have poured my social life, some personal info and random thoughts onto the page like any other college kid, and, for the most part, enjoyed it.

I agree wholeheartedly that Facebook can be one of the most effective and convenient forms of communication. It’s like a hybrid e-mail account that gives one multiple channels to leave messages for other users in no time flat. For musicians, it’s great. Nowhere else will you find a place where you can so easily invite hundreds of people to an event and know that they’re going to see your invitation; and it’s not as shady as MySpace. Finally, Facebook, of course, gives anyone and everyone the opportunity to pursue that possibly innate need of self-importance by knowing that someone out there actually might care enough about them to stop in occasionally and read about the world of (insert user here).

Are you bored yet? Because I am.

Facebook isn’t the only thing that got me thinking about the necessities of life and the countless things we do simply because we’re bored. But it was by far the least essential thing to my existence I could think of and it also would be the easiest to just rid myself of . or so I thought.

According to Wikipedia, 3.21 million people have Facebook. I didn’t even bother looking into the estimated amount of hours those people use Facebook per day, per year or just in general.

As a society, there are so many things we do simply because we are too lazy or bored to do anything better with our time. The strange need to be entertained at all times and society’s narcissistic tendencies seem to dominate our way of life. Facebook brings those issues to a head. It gives people a reason to sit around for hours at a time doing absolutely nothing, yet feeling like they are doing something because they are playing “Mob Wars” and creepin’ on someone they went to high school with.

There is also the issue of privacy. I was certainly not scared that a random person would track me down via Facebook and use my information to turn me into a lamp shade. But almost everyone I know keeps a meticulous journal of their lives via Facebook statuses. I was no different. For four years of my life, almost anyone could have scientifically and reliably studied my habits, where I was going, what lyrics struck me at a particular moment in time, etc. Why would I want even my closest friends to know know what I’m doing all the time? Why would I care to know that they did some hw, mAdE diNnEr and get to see their luv RACHEL TONIGHT!!!!! . ? Why not go off the map for a while?

Finally, the thing about Facebook that kills me the most is that I’m writing a column about it. When I deleted my account with a friend, we debated it for almost a half an hour. After deciding that we weren’t afraid that we’d be ‘out of the loop,’ that we could store pictures somewhere else and that we would, in fact, continue to exist, we deleted our accounts simply because we were ashamed that we had to think that hard about it. I’m guessing that the entire time you’ve been reading this, in the back of your head, you’ve been thinking at least a little about Facebook’s pitfalls, but then found reasons to justify them. Now you’re a little embarrassed. It’s all right.

I’ve already been told this argument is stupid and that I’m making a big deal out of nothing. I could really care less if 3.21 people use Facebook. Keep it, enjoy it. But Facebook has become a big deal out of nothing.

In the end, however, I do take comfort in knowing that I will be missed.

For those of you who haven’t tried to delete your account, one of the many screens that pop up trying to guilt you into not leaving is one that features some of your friends’ profile pics that each say “Howard will miss you!” “Kelly will miss you!” “Vince will miss you!”

Five of my best friends showed up to bid me farewell at my Facebook funeral. What more could a guy ask for?

Hanson is a senior print journalism major and chief copy editor for The Spectator.

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