“Concerning the difference between man and the jackass: some observers hold that there isn’t any. But this wrongs the jackass.” -Mark Twain
(I set out to do something and end up wasting time. So goes my job search and this blog. Sorry.)
I have decided that Facebook is trying to kill me.
When I was an undergraduate in 2004, Facebook was something of a novel concept. One of my college friends got on it early on, if I remember correctly. Since I was a child, I never liked to jump on to the latest craze just because everyone else was doing it. What’s the purpose? What’s the logic? I never saw Facebook as being all that great and I didn’t want to be on social media. I hated social media. It keeps you connected! Sometimes you just want to be alone! I was rather glad in the early 2000s to be without a cellphone since no one could call me. What about privacy? Mark Zuckerberg likely never thought about that, and, I admit, he gave me and my fellow Millennials what we wanted or what we thought we wanted… connection!
I can’t remember when I finally got on to Facebook, but it had to have been in the late 2000s. At first, I did nothing except get a bare-bones account. I just wanted a basic account so employers knew that I was out there. One of my high school friends “friended” me. Others then wanted to friend me. All Hell broke loose. My first reaction upon seeing the images of my long-lost high school friends was to say “OMG, they are bald, fat,.. and my age!” It was bizarre to see who was with who and who was doing what. Almost everyone I knew from high school appeared to have married each other in what I called “high school incest.” One former high school mate had an avatar chugging a 3-liter bottle of Mountain Dew. Others where drinking away at bars. Some were cursing away and ranting. I knew very little about Facebook’s privacy settings; most didn’t and many today still don’t. Between the machinations of some of my Facebook friends, the fear of prospective employers seeing their antics and attributing them to me, and Facebook’s general disregard for privacy, I erased my account on Quit Facebook Day in 2010.
A few years later, Facebook went public and started selling shares. I have a small trading account and bought around 10 shares as a lark. After a few more years, I sold the shares since I figured the company wasn’t going to last with its privacy concerns and the fact that fewer people were getting on it. Facebook was becoming “old hat” and not adapting to meet the needs of both younger and older generations. Also, I wanted money for a new computer, which may have not been the best of financial decisions.
Early this year, I started taking online courses that emphasized having a Facebook account to collaborate. I researched the best way to create the most guarded and privacy friendly Facebook account possible. Not all, but many of my old Facebook friends found me again, along with some new friends. It amazed me how most had matured, had families, had good jobs, had houses, and had many adventures. Most were still fat, bald, and, of course, my age. I was content with this arrangement and I was assured that employers would find my Facebook page dull, but existent.
However, the months of friending people and delving deeper into Facebook has made me see its dark side. Many post conservative political and religious messages blaring out across multiple groups and pages. They can post their messages about their beliefs, but I would be scared to death of correcting their factual errors or announcing my own beliefs. I’m left-wing and agnostic (if not atheist), and I doubt these friends would tolerate it since apparently “my kind” is destroying the United States like that Atheist-Muslim-Satanic-Indonesian-Kenyan who’s in the White House. I have to live and work with these people offline and an online spat could have dire consequences. I need a job and who knows if admitting having “liberal” beliefs on Facebook could shut down opportunities for me. I could be over-exaggerating and overly cynical, but I don’t want a confrontation online or offline. I try to avoid confrontation. I thought the purpose of the Internet was to spread new ideas and encourage dialogue? Instead, you have walled gardens of liked-mined individuals who distrust the opposite-minded, and you’ll certainly find that on Facebook. At least one of my new Facebook friends, who I know offline, insists on putting up messages like “If you care about me, post this on your timeline” and pressures others to do it. So far, I haven’t done it, but I wonder if my not doing it could cause the individual to become… unhinged? Let’s not forget my own corollary to Godwin’s Law that any Facebook thread, no matter how innocuous the subject, will inevitably lead to a rage-induced free-for-all where everyone gets emotionally and psychologically wounded. Never go to Facebook groups discussing your local schools or local obituaries. Never! I have learned the hard way!
All online communities and the Internet in general is full of the angry and the deranged. That does not bother me the most. What bothers me most is seeing my peers on Facebook succeeding. I should be happy for them and the success in their lives. I’m in my early 30s, and yet my peers have moved on to careers, marriages (even divorces), kids, property, traveling, and pets. I have a very small job history with huge employment gaps and a graduate degree. I’m proud of my accomplishments, yet that has not translated into employment success and the rewards that brings. I planned on being a librarian, but now I’m looking at retail positions or anything else entry-level. I feel like Skipper Dan.
I look at my Facebook peers and I wonder where I failed while they succeeded? I never thought deeply about marriage and children, but as I grow older, those opportunities seem to slip away. They used to see me as the intellectual guy that would be “most likely to succeed” and yet they have gone through several major adult milestones while I still live at home. Jealousy does not serve anyone anything, and I work to move on. Facebook is trying to kill me, but I am reminded that while I am fat and the same age as my Facebook peers, I still have my hair for the most part.