Minding the Borderlands

Mark Koester (@markwkoester) on the art of travel and technology

Let’s Face It! What Is Facebook Doing to Us?

Let’s face it, Facebook (like the internet) has, will, or is in the process of taking over our lives—including my own.

I recently got “reconnected” to the internet after several years without internet in my home. I hesitated and avoided “connecting” my computer for an odd assortment of reasons, but once reconnected I couldn’t help but start chatting more often and for longer minutes on MSN or AOL, I started “finding” and looking up old friends over Facebook, and I began to read more and more newspaper articles. There is something obsessing about the internet, about looking at this website, then the next; listening to a song here, watching a video clip there. Endless connecting and bouncing. But where does it all stop? Oh at about 3 in the morning when you come to realize that you need to go to bed, because, in spite of telling yourself repeated that you’d only spend 5 more minutes…then 5 more…and well, that was a few hours ago. I feel like it wasn’t exactly me connecting, bouncing about, and surfing the net; it was this virtual world surfing me, I just claimed to do the clicking as my psychological profile finds continuous replenishing in the never ending ocean of webbed wonders.

And what does it mean when I count how many friends I have on Facebook? Am I better person if I have more Facebook friends than you? Honestly, the majority of these people I haven’t seen or heard of in years. I look at their pages and their friends wondering where I am in the world and trying to understand where they are, what they are doing, what their lives are like. I suppose just seem wonder wouldn’t be too troubling, but suddenly, helplessly, obsessively!, I’m comparing my life, my photos, my Facebook life with theirs. Quelle horreur!

I can just imagine meeting up one of my old high school or elementary school “Facebook friends” and discussing our lives. Cliff notes for a life that these people probably couldn’t understand. Nor could I really understand their lives, either. Even though I seem to think that my life is better than his or hers, etc. Pitiful. Are these people that I plan on seeing again in the future? Are these people that would give me a place to stay if I arrived in their town without a cent to my name and nowhere to stay? I hardly know these people. Admittedly, I once knew them, but what I knew can barely compare to their current lives, worries, etc. I suppose it’s good to know that these people still exist and that, according to their Facebook life, they are doing relatively well.

But suddenly I find my head haunted by these former faces. I look at their pictures, remembering they way they looked then with these images of now. These faces and lives that haven’t crossed my mind in literally years, perhaps they never crossed my mind since that connected past and place separated. But suddenly and unfortunately, I’m haunted by lives I never knew. Suddenly I have too many “friends” for me to handle. How did these nifty way to stay connected and “keep in touch” with people turn so cruelly nightmarish? This Pandora-like book of faced “contacts” has got me all turned inside out. So, let’s face it, I’m face-book-out. And once opened, Facebook is strangely difficult to close.

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