[A note of explanation to all readers under the age of, oh hell, just for you young ones, OK? Let's not get into the numbers. What I endured as Jr. High is now called Middle School. Onwards.]
In my public Jr. High school there were all sorts of activities built into the school year that seemed designed chiefly to underscore how popular you were (or were not). Student Council elections, cheerleader elections, student dances, movie days.
The most egregious offender was a series of fund raisers where for a contribution, groups of student council members (aka the popular kids) went around from one classroom to the next delivering carnations with a knowing flourish to...you guessed it....all the other popular kids.
If you couldn't figure out for yourself how popular you were (or were not) the evidence was there at the end of each class period. Clear as the flowers not on your desk. Not that most of us needed the visual. Most of us were all too aware of our status. Trying to find a way to live with, or in spite of that, was the emotional burden we carried along with our textbooks day to day.
On Facebook the "friend"counts and incessant thumbs uping and downing were taking a similar toll. It felt so much, too much like an online lunch room with the attendant strain of figuring out where it would be safe to sit. The constant rankings and ratings, the cookie cutter thumbnail indicators of "we are FOR this" or "we are NOT FOR that" began to feel like a very unspecial episode of Glee, minus redeeming musical interludes.
I clicked and posted, filling my page with videos, petitions and updates on my every waking thought and mood, yet I was never sharing anything particularly special or unique. It was all so packaged. So contrived. So... commercial. There was not much about myself or my life on Facebook that a quick rummage through our trash cans, recycling bins or worse yet, a quick scan of my credit card receipts wouldn't similarly reveal.
Was there anything of the real me on Facebook or was it all simply manufactured simulacrum? Did it matter? Did I care?
There were boundary issues. On Facebook there is a pile of permanently preserved detritus unearthed by the less than judicious post. For me it all began to take on creepy overtones. Pulling up certain people's pages on Facebook felt way too much like driving s-o v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y around a neighborhood to spy on other people's front porches or into their garages.
Sure I could see what was posted there. But should I? Who's fault was it
I was becoming way too comfortable alternating between indulging other people's inner flasher and/or my peeping tom.
It all came to a head the day I got the email informing me my account had been hacked. I was advised to change all my passwords and email links. Everywhere. The vulnerability of trying to be so very accessible to everybody meant that in my case, the site had become a Trojan horse.
I kicked myself as I reset log-ins for all bazillionty sites I frequent. I had met the enemy and she was me. I thought about what I stood to gain and what I stood to lose, then simply took my page down.
I let a few people know, but mostly I just quietly bugged out. Within the span of a few key strokes I willingly, knowingly, relinquished the capability to effortlessly view relationship status updates and uniformly adorable baby photos of my friend's kids and grandkids. I accepted I would no longer be able to send messages to or be virtually reminded of other people's birthdays, anniversaries or travel plans.
So far, so good. I realize my absence makes it a little more time consuming for other people to keep in touch. It will take more to get caught up with Actual Me than simply scrolling down a page to check for breathless updates on the weather or my latest purchase.