A trans-Canada, transatlantic, trans-Europe flight from the Pacific Cost is needed to reunite me with my friends in the Middle East. But what can fill in the half-the-globe gap? I can't help but think of Facebook's login page, the background with mug-shot silhouettes of men and women from every continent, all linked with each other with several lines. "Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life," it says.
During my four-year Facebook membership, I had long periods of absence, from a week to a few months. I didn't see any need to be more active on Facebook; I saw my friends every day and talked to those overseas acquaintances often -- that was more than enough. When I moved, Facebook officially entered my life.
Six months later, before going on a trip, knowing that there would be no Internet, I deactivated my account and ticked the little box beside the "It's temporary. I'll be back" option when Facebook asked me the reason. I felt insecure about people visiting my profile while I was away, having control over virtually nothing. Later, I realized that I was feeling insecure about people monitoring me while I couldn't, as if in retaliation, monitor them -- you never have any control over your profile visitors anyway.
On my flight back home, while hesitating on whether I should activate my account or not, I became totally engrossed in scattered thoughts about my upcoming birthday. Did I really want everyone to wish me a happy birthday? Was I going to thank them, "like" them, or ignore them? What if I, embarrassingly, didn't get many birthday wishes on my profile? What if I didn't want, say, Becky, to read what Daniel has written for me? Wasn't it ridiculous that some people were going to wish me a happy birthday twice -- once at school and once on Facebook?
And it was then that more and more questions stormed my mind. Was I supposed to wish somebody who has been bullying me a happy birthday, just to pretend that everything is fine and conceal the deep strains of our relations from others? Why had I accepted his request in the first place? What should be my standard for accepting people's requests -- only good friends, only classmates, schoolmates, or just everyone?
It seemed like a petty matter to think and worry about so much. Facebook, I realized, was tiring me. I was sick of seeing its blue-and-white pages on people's phones during classes and on every computer during our research blocks. I was sick of posts like, "TBH, Paniz, you are my BFF and love you and miss you so much." I remembered the day when, for a minute, I rejoiced with my aunt and congratulated her under the picture of her newborn, and the next, I mourned with my uncle and offered him my condolences for the death of his father. Where was the love? Where was the happiness, the sadness? I had allowed Facebook to create a huge sea of publicized, wasted emotions all tangling in each other, to change the meaning of words and make them all more superficial. That's what Facebook is -- a vast but shallow network of people.
It was on the plane that the kick came: I hate Facebook. It's more a tool for gossiping than connecting. Uploading photos has become an established part of every evening out; if your last photos are two weeks old, you are a nerd who never gets out of her little bubble. When you do go out, everything you do is going to be watched by hundreds of people. Your profile is a representation of you; but, wait a minute, aren't we being judged every second by our every single action in high school anyway? Thanks, but I can't bear to be cyber-judged too; I need my nerves and brain to deal with more important things.
I never activated my Facebook again, and I feel emancipated, after five months of a Facebook-free life. I no longer see Jess's album of his Christmas in Hawaii with tons of pictures from turtles of the Honolulu Zoo, or an album of Syd and his friends making those so-called funny faces, or Jane's pictures of her bulldog or baby brother, or Miriam's mirror photo with an iPhone in her hand and an "I love you Justin" written with a lipstick on the left. I'm no longer poked by people I barely know, or tagged on those "Describe me in three words" photos, or invited to the cause "I don't give a shit," or notified because Chris has liked a comment I made about a post two years ago.
Supposedly, my purpose for being on Facebook was to connect with my friends, but we were only keeping in touch, literally, only in touch -- nothing more. We could have Skyped, but the time difference -- 10.5 hours -- didn't allow that. These days, we email regularly. I never rush to reply; rather than that, after reading their long emails, I take time off the computer and think about their emails for a few days -- I connect with them in solitude. Then, I answer all their questions in detail, give my opinion about their problems and concerns when necessary, and write for them about my own life.
Facebook is truly the book of faces, and just faces -- masks for display. Those people weren't my friends; they were the Facebookized replicas of them. In these five months, I have only had one regret: I wasted many precious hours on Facebook; had I used them on learning French or playing the guitar, I would've been a different person by now.