Facebook is dead. I killed it. You'll find its remains somewhere on the eastern shore of Maryland, in the forest beside a creek. I'll never hear its notifications again, at least not over the chirping of birds and the rumbling crescendos of cicadas.
I spread its body parts out, and buried them deep. Worms are munching on 10 years of wall posts, turning them over and excreting them in the soil. Bacteria are dissolving my college photos from the inside. The flesh of my profile picture has withered away, leaving behind a faceless void. Only bones will remain, for a time, among friends and relatives, until the coming flood of brands and sponsored likes washes them away into oblivion.
My colleague Ellis Hamburger says Facebook has a friend problem, but its problems run much deeper. It is an ergonomic exoskeleton we wear to get around, but it doesn't make us better people. It only makes us more efficient — for doing things that Facebook invented. It is for moving 10-ton pallets of old photos, for lifting endless "streams" of "content," and for carrying around our big data — the new byproduct of our existence — on our backs.
Facebook doesn't make us better people
Facebook's biggest problem is us. It never turns its attention away from us, and it never lets our attention turn away from it. To borrow from Annie Dillard, Facebook is the constant verbalization of our awareness, it is the nagging need to experience every moment in anticipation of a moment yet to come: the mechanical drip of serotonin that comes with every "like." Self-consciousness is "the one thing that divides us from all creatures," Dillard wrote. "It was a bitter birthday present from evolution, cutting us off at both ends."
Facebook destroys the present moment, leaving us only with the metadata of experience; ultimately meaningless traces of what we now think looks like real experience. It does this by locking us in a room with ourselves, our self-consciousness, and throwing away the key.
I killed Facebook before it had a chance to kill me. Then I drank good beer, petted an outdoor cat named Gator, chased some chickens around, and watched my one-year-old cousin stuff cake into his mouth on his first birthday. I sat in front of a fire, at night, confronted only by darkness and a clear night sky, and shared laughs with my family.
For a moment, I thought I could see someone in the woods, watching. A pasty white man with a laptop named Mark. Mark wants me to rejoin Facebook because Aura and Kevin and Jordan will miss me. But they won't miss me, because I am already with them. And Mark isn't invited.