December 2, 2023

Column: “That Got Me to Thinkin’…?” “Life After Facebook”


“That Got Me To Thinkin’…?” “Life After Facebook” Chapter 67
By Bruce Williams

Bruce Williams

So Facebook was down for half a day or so last week.  Rumors spread around the internet of a hack, possible permanent code damage, employees locked out of headquarters on the way to fix the mess, etc.  It got me to thinking (hey, I fit that in there) about life after Facebook.  Everything has a shelf life—look at the lifespan of, say, the hula hoop or the VCR…though some things never die—like classic rock or religious disagreements.  Oddly, my first thought if it were to go away forever was a bit of relief—I wouldn’t have to write another column for awhile, and I could just idly spend what little free time I have playing Words With Friends or reading the new Sedaris or Franzen books Amazon just shipped me.  I need to watch that Soprano’s prequel, and there’s always several things to fix around the house.  I would miss the creative outlet, though.

I’m not much of a talker.  Some people probably think, at least when they drink me in at first, oh—he must be an oaf; a simpleton.  What with that 17½ inch collar and size 14 shoes, he’s probably lucky if he can wipe his own hairy ass. There’s me, standing inert with my usual nonplussed look of resigned indifference, reading their scanning eyes. Writing always provided me with a medium—a more complex way to relay my inner thought processes.  Take away the format, and I guess I’d just quit and recede back into my own mind.  Or write one of those unpublished books all of your least-interesting relatives like to threaten you with.  These musings crossed my mind while Facebook was on life support.

Then I contemplated all of the staple feeds that have become a regular thing that aren’t particularly necessary to my day-to-day well being.  Your lunch.  Her kids. Those cats.  The same memes circulating around and around.  The constant Pavlovian search for likes—waves of dopamine provided by folks you barely remember from high school.  The manufactured outrage.  I think I’d miss the news feeds, but would I really?  A horrific crash on I-5?  The pedophile tackled at the local park during an attempted abduction?  Inbreds in Missouri defying logic with their perversions and mugshotted underbites?  It seems my mind is always in scroll mode—I rarely watch TV without my phone nearby—maybe giving it all up would be freeing…similar to wandering into the wilderness like Thoreau or McCandless.

There will be a life after Facebook—in fact, I know several people that have simply walked away (or been booted off)—some of them with grandiose imagined mic drops as they signed off for the last time, perhaps envisioning that it just wouldn’t be the same without them.  I’m sure they’re moving about without too many problems in the real world…grocery shopping, gassing up, falling asleep in front of reruns with a bag of Cheetos on their leg.  My gut feeling is that they’re probably just fine.  My nieces and nephews aren’t on Facebook anymore—they’ve moved on to other, hipper genres of social media.  In fact, there seems to be a particular American age group the qualifies as “enthusiasts” of “The ‘book”—but with nearly three billion users worldwide (out of eight billion people), that’s still a lot of market share.  

I’m a curious sort.  I find people and their motivations and reasoning endlessly fascinating.  I’ve described funneling down random people’s pages in the past—usually prompted by some sort of egregious commentary that compelled me to understand its obtuse source.  Would I be better off not investigating their raw stupidity and willingness to belch it out into the universe?  I don’t know.  As I float down 167, I shake from my Good-to-Go lane stupor as Danzig’s “Mother” shuffles onto my truck’s stereo and I glance down to turn the knob up and escape my thoughts…