Facebook detox, Part Three (a juicy rationalization)

Sally see, Sally do.
Sally see, Sally do.

For anyone following the story of my recent quitting Facebook, I need to confess what I did just now: I reactivated my Facebook account. I have found that completely not existing there (which is how deactivating an account reads to other users—as if Rebecca Kuder doesn’t exist) seems like it’s more a hindrance to me and my writing. This is another experiment, and we’ll see how it goes. I decided to re-activate and thereby re-exist in the weird place that’s not a place, and then log out and staying off for (at least) the rest of summer, and then will reapproach how or if I will use it.

I’ve never been a smoker, but this metaphor might explain: If Facebook was a lit cigarette in the ash tray on my desk, from which I could take a drag whenever I wanted (and I did, regularly, habitually, without thought), I intend that reactivating my account is allowing the pack of cigarettes to sit across the room, present, but untouched. That is my intention. (I will keep investigating this metaphor, to make sure it works, and to make sure I am working.)

I realize this post might be akin to telling you what I had for breakfast. Maybe I’m being a hypocrite, or undisciplined. Quite likely I’m the only one who cares about this shift in my relationship with Facebook. But in the interest of being honest, I needed to post what I did here.

Facebook detox, Part Two (FACEBOOK, YOU CAD!)

(Read me.)
(Read me.)

THIS JUST IN: Facebook has gone too far. They conducted what seems to me a highly unethical experiment on their users, to wit, they, manipulated the news feeds of over half a million randomly selected users to change the number of positive and negative posts they saw. It was part of a psychological study to examine how emotions can be spread on social media. Read this NY Times article for more information. Here’s some of the bunk under which they explain the experiment:

“The reason we did this research is because we care about the emotional impact of Facebook and the people that use our product,” Mr. Kramer wrote. “We felt that it was important to investigate the common worry that seeing friends post positive content leads to people feeling negative or left out. At the same time, we were concerned that exposure to friends’ negativity might lead people to avoid visiting Facebook.”

I had been taking a semi-break from Facebook, as I wrote about here. But I hadn’t fully disentangled myself. After reading that article, I deactivated my account. (If I want to reactivate an account, however, the helpful people at FB assure me that all I need to do is log in. I suppose if I were not still somewhat ambivalent, I would actually delete my account. But I’m not ready for that.) After I deactivated my account, I got this message:

Hi Rebecca,
You have deactivated your Facebook account. You can reactivate your account at any time by logging into Facebook using your old login email and password. You will be able to use the site like you used to.

“You will be able to use the site like you used to.” I suppose that’s factually true. But as I detox and regain my regular old brain (the one that used to be less distracted and harried, and less anxious…the one that reads and writes books), I doubt I will want to use it like I used to. Facebook had become, for me, a sort of shiny opiate. I don’t think I will choose to go back there on those terms.

I am encouraging whoever I talk to about this issue to read The Shallows by Nicholas Carr. (About the book, Michael Agger at Slate wrote, “Nicholas Carr has written a Silent Spring for the literary mind.”) What I like is that Carr writes about how we have choices in how we use this technology. It sounds like if we step back, slow down, unplug, and act consciously, we can reclaim what is being lost as we click and click and click without thinking.

I apologize if I sound evangelical, but this seems very, very important, and I am just waking up from an unintentionally self-imposed nightmare, and I must talk about it.