the long goodbye

Not_facebook_not_like_thumbs_down

Who will be the last person using facebook? Because you know it’s going to die. It’s dying already. Every time facebook makes a change to its look, or updates its privacy policy, it dies a little more. There’s going to come a day when post-boomers like me will finally take our data and go home. I’m not talking about taking a break or deactivating for a set period of time. I’m talking about downloading all your data from facebook (which can be done anytime, at least at the moment) and obliterating your account forever. Of course, the longer we wait, the harder the breakup will be. Most of our history, at least the last five years’ worth, is here. The most recent iteration of facebook, rolled out today, gives you even less freedom to change the look of your news feed than the last upgrade. The actual space where you interact with your friends is shrinking. Algorithms determine who and how often you interact with your friends. Ads are multiplying. The space where real life happens is being squeezed. Soon, I wonder if your feed will look like the screen of a CNBC show, with news tickers and stock prices scrolling down and across your screen, multiple windows open replete with talking heads, so that the thing you actually tuned in to watch is crammed into a small space at the center of your feed. Even the term feed has complacent, bovine overtones. We are being fed, almost against our will. We are given the illusion of sharing, when in fact we are being data strip-mined. We give it all voluntarily, of course. Maybe in the near future, we’ll turn back to real life and realize the only people we need to share with are the people right in front of us. We’ll give up our smartphones and talk to people the old-fashioned way, with actual phone calls and letters, or face-to-face conversations. I’ve lamented this before and to death. I’ve left and come back. But every time I come back, I have less and less patience. I’ve given up Instagram, Vine, and Twitter. I never had Snapchat and never plan to start, just like I don’t ever plan to start shooting smack. Don’t let the powers-that-be tell you that you need all this stuff. You don’t. Say no, while you still have time. Take back real life. It can be done.

So…let’s imagine a pre-facebook world, shall we? Post-boomers, I ask you: What would it look like?

I’ll tell you: Like our thirties.

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