The Long Road Out of Facebook: Part One

[Much of this entry has come into being due to an old friendship hopefully renewed by postal mail after it was destroyed by Facebook and brain-hacking. Please bear that in mind.]


Dearest Friend,

Apology accepted! I wanted to hear from you but just not on Facebook was all. We did pretty well on that network until it became the status-quo *to* be on it. This is going to take a long time to explain so I’ll spend a day working on it and trying to devise the best way to explain to you what happened to all of us.

For my part, I take the stance of a wise character I love, “I’m just sorry it happened at all!”

This isn’t the 21st Century we were hoping for, is it?

I don’t consider myself the biggest fan of speculative or science-fiction, but wow. I’m glad I had that training to see so many warning signs so quickly.

The worst result is that each individual became part of a collective of Those To Whom The Rule Does Not Apply:

“Other people are addicted to social media, but not me.”

“Other people are behaving worse than they ever did, but not me.”

“Don’t let *those people* get you down… even though I happen to be one of them and don’t seem to realize that.”

Phew, this gets rather endless… and I recall all of these folks including those confirming to me, “Something IS wrong, and no doubt about it.”

Hence we are all to blame.

However, if anyone requires a villain in this mess then Menlo Park is a nice, fat, juicy one. (HQ of Facebook, and a place that gives off the “ewl” response considering the uppity wealth and snob factor coming out of there.) Yes, they like money. Lots and lots of money!

Facebook became this universe where everything was and from which no one could escape. I kept getting invites to pen pals groups there that never worked. I was trying to find other avenues for pen pals outside of Facebook since 2014. During that time I managed to acquire short-lived email pals who hated Facebook and then would ask me if I wanted to connect with them there. This happened frequently.

Heck, I got invites to various spots on Facebook from a cast member of DS in what I have presumed was the hope that whoever was in charge of those zones would be interested and perhaps they could help me with commentary for The Pit. Various groups and people seemed likely. It’s just that we were all using Facebook so this was, inevitably, all buck-passing.

Many people did the same style of invitations. Even my reaching websites outside of Facebook meant going to their Facebook areas instead of having any real one-to-one conversation beyond an email inviting me to their Facebook group.

One party. One company. One party. One company.

Then came the carbon copies. A pen pal of long ago invited me to Ello. Oh-h-h-h, so hopeful, but it was the same crap. Twitter? Slightly different but more or less the same; Marina Sirtis’ experience with Twitter has been a beacon in my life. Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, Disqus, Quora… spam, spam, spam. Then there is tumblr, which hails from New York City, as the PCP version in all of this crack-cocaine and meth-amphetamine. (I’m currently looking at Google Plus as the pot-plantation. People get wacky sometimes but usually just lazy and mellow.)

Once upon a time Facebook worked. The news-feed came and everyone was talking and really talking. This is what the carbon copies kept trying to revive: the real thing. Real thought-sharing, real banter, real people getting to know each other or having conversations like they would in person.

One big problem was the like-button came into being a little while later in 2009. (I recently found an email complaining about this from a friend that was sent during 2011.) So when the carbon copies tried to revive the great chat that suddenly came into being from the news-feed they would always add some form of the like-button (+1, upvotes, hearts, etc.) and in that way the carbon copies could never work.

Somehow we all got caught up in this idea that it had worked once and if we just tried hard enough it would work again. That meagre 25% or less of it working meant we might be getting somewhere, when the truth of the matter is we were all fooling ourselves.

Good things come from Facebook, it’s true. But by the same token good things come from Walmart. I desire as little possible from either.

For myself, I kept ranting on Facebook and other carbon copies for people to email, to telephone, anything. I had to become suicidal before a few friends finally telephoned. It should not have had to take that severe a desire. But that is how beholden to the system so many people became. One cast member really worried about me when it got that bad, but… we all went back to Facebook anyway.

I kept looking outside, going inward, praying for “the crazy” to stop. It wouldn’t. I spoke with music, metaphors, my own suffering I wouldn’t normally tell anyone much less a public platform. All anyone could do, other than like-click, was blame something else: alcohol, the project, “those people”, various things that were only increased and enhanced by the social media madness.

Meanwhile, they wouldn’t tell me what they enjoyed in my work, but they would tell me all about who was on Facebook that they hated, or were pissed at and wanted to make fun of, or having my own listeners avoiding the topic of The Pit show while sending me photos, memes, and giving me bullcrap. High School A-Go-Go.


Kay finally broke out and started visiting. Jonah started telephoning again. Tito began to keep in touch better. As for so many others we shared in common or didn’t? They never got back in touch after several phone calls. Many wildly creative and rebellious types seem lost to us forever.

Then, finally, I made an example of myself. *I* would quit somehow.

I started at the end of 2016 and it took me about a year to get unhooked. Truly. “Falling off the wagon” is usually meant for returning to “the demon liquor”. For me “falling off the wagon” became using Facebook. It was harder than quitting smoking or quitting alcohol.

I shot for one week away, and then adding a day to that week the next time around. I didn’t realize I wasn’t getting farther than a week because I was miscounting the length on the calendar. I had to get a Sharpie to count and potently mark that longer duration on the calendar over and over again. Something in my brain had created a distinct need to get Facebook back into my system. I’ve encountered this problem before and with nicotine especially.

Somewhere in this struggle to get away, Clover and Jonah began visiting and somehow they got back together. Almost every weekend they stay over. One night I asked how it came to be. The answer wasn’t forth coming until I added, “Because there isn’t anyone else to hang out with, huh?”

Clover answered, with a sigh, “Yep!”

In about six months I managed to reach two weeks away from Facebook at a time.

Interpals and other pen pal websites became my “methadone” for want of another word. Even people there were trying to break-free but losing the ability to understand how. On Interpals it was worse due to all the creeps or just people locked into the message system there, going stir-crazy complaining about how horrible the world and the people in it became.

Impostors showed up to follow me on wordpress and I would go to their useless blogs and scream obscenities at them, telling them to go back to Facebook. Doofus people with real web-logging skills would follow mine and I would politely inquire why, never hearing from them after that. I learned how to bump them off the follow-list and remove the like-stamp from my web-log, THANK GOD!

Meetup can be very up and down in solid commitments from people. Plainly put, we all expect the automatic systems to bring us company, but it’s a human being using the personal touch to others on Meetup that really works.

Did you hear the March Update 2017? I mentioned calling an Auntie who once had her own radio show. It was, indeed, her who said, “Yeah… I’m getting more alone than even I like to be.” She also admitted in that phone call, “Yes, social networks can definitely be addictive.” I’ve called her multiple times in the last year. She’s only mentioned Twitter once. (More about her later.)

Then the slow change began. I found some pen pals on the various sites, but they’d either “google” me and run-away-screaming, or get locked into only using the messaging system on those sites. Somehow real letter-writing terrified them even if they’d done it years before. I managed a new pal through L.W.A. even as I’d kept tight hold to Hidden Object who was enduring worse losses than I was via Facebook. I managed a hook-up from something called Geek Girls as well. Only one pen pal but it was a start. PPW finally granted me two long-term buddies who wanted to help with The Pit project and also wanted real correspondence and friendship.

After finding and subscribing to three more pen pal organizations with even better activity, I let the more terrified types, who were afraid to do real letters again, know about these organizations.

Of course, there were pen pals who did the same thing to me as the online crowd had done with The Pit:

  • Heading for the hills.
  • Downloading voraciously and avoiding the topic while still wanting to be pen pals
  • “Googling” me and getting paranoid.
  • Buck-passing to others.
  • Badly attempting to critique and suggest changes to episodes that are four years old, etc.

There is also a trend of “Desperate For DS” types who finally gain access to what I have, overcoming their computer-challenged barriers with my help, and? I never hear from them again either! We paid to have an advertisement put in a letter-writing zine and the same thing occurred. Not one letter, but massive downloads after the issue came out.

Honey, you could do a show about breakfast cereal, put the DS name on it and they wouldn’t care! They would eat it up as long as that shadowy name is bestowed. It is little wonder so many haters and hosers get recognition when they use it.

But, overall the world of real letter-writers maintained a sense of sanity. I even got good, clean, honest rejections for The Pit, with no creepy downloads from their areas later. I needed those honest rejections. Other “rejections” I’d gotten were bonafide lies with the bonus disturbance of online stalking.

The good rejections I got:

“I think I’m the wrong person to send this to. I’ll send it back.” (She didn’t, but whatever…)

“Oh, dear. This involves thinking and I’m retired and ready to just settle down for the simple.” (We still write short letters back and forth. She’s really into gem stones, big dogs and detective novels.)

“So, I listened to your first episode and it’s not really my thing… I didn’t know a lot of the characters and it was really hard for me to keep track of who people were. I did love Shake, Rattle & Roll as the end song. Good choice! And I forget his name, but you did a great impression of The Kids In The Hall guy!” (We also still write to each other.) 🙂

Also there is a fair amount of, “I’m sorry I haven’t gotten to your disk yet!” to which I say, “Keep writing and take your time. They aren’t being created quickly these days.”

With everything though there are just enough now by email and paper post that are happy to keep me company whether or not I run out of episodes, fun suggestions I don’t have to take seriously, and shared interest or just shared comradeship of hating what social networks did to all of us. Our woes are not isolated.


The social network and smartphone take-over touches people who never got an account or device of any kind.

From pen pals I hear about:

Family members, who weren’t all that great before, increasing their hostile and money grubbing attributes.

Educators who don’t answer questions and repeat, “Google it,” like a broken-record.

Kids are taking their parents to work interviews because they really weren’t raised to deal with person-to-person encounters.

People in their teens and twenties will rely on text-messaging rather than making a phone call because, “I don’t like the sound of my voice.”

My middle-brother has confessed to Mum, “Yeah, I’m addicted to Facebook,” just as a statement.

My sister, who does a bit better in life, has established, “I don’t have the time to waste on that thing!”

Mum and I never connected on Facebook for the purpose it would mar our relationship. She isn’t too happy having used it just to discover what my middle-brother is wasting his time posting of degrading content. My older-brother’s failing health and her own needs keep her busy enough.

There’s tons and tons I could tell of who has behaved outside of their norm in extreme ways, but for now I think this general explanation is more than enough. We’re all to blame, and it took an episode of “60 Minutes” (April 2017) to finally allow many of us reassurance of what we knew all along. Hey… “60 Minutes” can do a spot about the problem at this point. Why not? All these computer programmer mortgages have likely been paid by now, right?


Thankfully last Autumn brought something exceptional. I reached to a three-week mark of using Facebook. Just one weekend every three weeks. Even better, I reached that date on the calendar to use it and didn’t. I didn’t want to. I didn’t touch tumblr, I didn’t touch Facebook.

I began feeling like I did in 2013, but with the gift of no anhedonia, no frigidity and no panic. My privacy and contentment at home were more important. Using Facebook would be rewarding any admirers I have that their use of it would get them more of me. That would be me being the enabler I’ve unknowingly been for so many years. And what good would it do to reward people to be that lazy and addicted? None whatever.

Anyway, that’s part one of the long road out of Facebook. The Pit was never the problem. If anything it’s been the saving grace to keep me determined to find out what really was wrong.

The problem was what was happening to people when I was getting my groove back. I wouldn’t have noticed because I wasn’t using social networks much. In between looking for Vincent Price goodies, I was busy making audio books, creating The Pit, watching TV, listening to demos, reading books and learning as I’d always yearned my entire life. In the physical world I wasn’t seeing what was happening in the land of the “Crackberry” or the iPad.

Some fandom stuff made the original readers not type reactions to the old script I had shared, but moreover it was the correspondence skills dwindling, the addictive algorithms of social networks, and the day-to-day challenges being depleted by smartphones which has been what was wrong with everything all of this time.

Yes! For this grief? I left a good job in vision therapy to follow a dream. It was time to resign, but still…

The social media addiction also set off an allergic reaction so that people weren’t getting the social stimulus they needed and they became more and more angry, stalking and trolling writers of all types they didn’t like in a manner that was craving any social interaction even if it was negative. For whatever positive types of people were left, getting hypnotized by happy-buttons and laziness meant they weren’t providing the encouragement to others that they once did.

“Oh, don’t worry. This Nazi idea is just a phase. It’ll pass.” Ahem!

One day, about a year ago, a friend of mine started his shift at his place of employment. Upon his arrival a co-worker told him, “Hey, you missed it. Mark Zuckerberg was in here an hour ago.”

“Oh?” my friend inquired, “Did you ask him how it feels to have destroyed society?”

That made me feel better, I tell ya.


 

I do not believe any old friendships can pick up where they left off. Large groups of people like to pretend nothing happened, or blame someone else to feel better. This isn’t a situation where that is going to work. We claimed to want to keep in touch and suddenly were fighting with each other most of the time, or sending happy stickers and dumb photos to excess. Promoting approval with a thumb in the air will be leaving us with a sour repose; as well it ought to do.

And it was all “free”, right? We didn’t have to pay for a service. We just had to have the right equipment, the wifi, the electricity, and the money to make the monthly payments to have it all and watch our world fall apart on a screen, involving living people this time, rather than fictional characters we had real feelings for.

Try again. We did pay for it: in time, money and in grief. I have yet to hear a single individual boisterously admit that these things have made their lives inordinately better and happier. With a little self-consciousness, they look for a silver-lining though, trying to find the smallest drop of bliss amongst the wreckage. I think that reveals a great deal.


 

Until next time, I hope these instructions have helped you understand the new addictions if you want to quit. I’ll have more to tell later. In the meanwhile I’ve got letters to write, a life to live and spooky families to take care of in a little place called Collinsport, with the help of Cemetery Lane, Schooner Bay, Mockingbird Heights, Morning Glory Circle, and our guests at Hill House.

Pleasant dreams. ❤

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