I became acquainted with Facebook during my deployment to Iraq. I had envisioned this blog as being the best platform to keep in touch with friends, colleagues, and family, but one work colleague sent me an email, urging me to give Facebook (FB) a try. Her argument was that FB was more timely, and easier to keep track of multiple friends and their activities. I was skeptical, believing that FB consisted of insipid updates about what TV show friends were watching, or what they had for breakfast/lunch/dinner. Well, after setting up an account, I discovered that there was indeed some of those trivial posts, but also a lot of good connections. I renewed contact with respected cousins, nieces, nephews, an aunt, old friends from high school, college, law enforcement, and the "Old Army", and found it much easier to write a quick status or post a comment on a friend's wall, than to construct a blog entry.
As my "friends list" grew (as of tonight, there was a grand total of 260), I spent a lot of time tracking what was going on in my new world. While FB may not have been an addiction, I found myself unconsciously wondering how folks had reacted to my last brilliant status update, or witty reply left on their "Wall". My ethereal social network continued to grow, and I truly enjoyed making the acquaintance of some very impressive people...many of them "friends of friends" spread out around the globe. Some were (are) celebrities, like the talented clubhouse reporter for our Major League baseball team, a superb best-selling mystery writer, a QVC Network host, while others were future superstars, like an Army attack helicopter pilot who is a PhD candidate and soon to be astronaut.
Being a sociable person by nature, I thrived on the ability to interact with so many people on a regular basis, and enjoyed the challenge of writing to amuse, inform, spur a debate, or simply entertain. It's very seductive, having such a large audience out there 24/7! Naturally, the downside to FB was how easy it became to divide my attention between my Spousal Unit and my FB pals. What moved my FB use to a new, and darker level was my acquisition of an iPhone...which I immediately used to download the FB app. Now, constant updates flashed on the darkened screen, alerting me that "Somebody just did SOMETHING!" which of course I just had to see. Didn't matter if we were watching TV, eating dinner, or talking about random stuff...the siren call of a status update or "like" invariably caught my eye. Yeah, it sure sounds similar to the pervy dudes who are out with their wife or girlfriend, but just can't help swiveling their necks to check out some young babe strolling in the opposite direction. My Spousal Unit made a few softly-barbed comments about my wandering iPhone habit, but generally refrained from actively rebuking me.
It didn't take a genius to figure out that my behavior was not real functional. What made the need for change even more apparent was the growing numbers of political postings, mostly by far right-wingers, who denigrated anyone who thinks differently than they, labeling them as "libtards", "traitors", "communist/socialist/terrorist", or just plain unpatriotic. (I do have several very conservative friends and colleagues who avoid this behavior, and are capable of having a very civil discourse with those of a different persuasion...for which I am very thankful!) I got just as annoyed by the strident left-wing folks, though these types tend to display a much lower "Adam Henry Quotient" than their Ultra-Conservative opponents. So when Facebook started to resemble less of a social gathering, and more of a Leni Riefenstahl propaganda film (cue the "Horst Wessel Lied"!), I realized it was time to bail out.
I will still keep in touch with my friends, colleagues and relatives via email, in-person visits, and phone calls...but it won't intrude constantly on my time with my excellent Spousal Unit. As an added benefit, I hope that discarding my former FB creative writing outlet will spur me to work more diligently on my novel and blog. So, Adios, Facebook, and Vaya Con Bozos!