I Want to Retrain My Mind to the World of 1996

Source: Deep Learning on Medium

I Want to Retrain My Mind to the World of 1996

(Except I Will Not Be Replacing My Phone With a Landline Because I Still Want to Use A Bus App So I Don’t Have to Wait Outside an Extra 5–20 Minutes in Sub-Zero Weather… Though I Considered It.)

So it’s imperative I quit facebook in 2020. I do not need to defend my extremely valid decision!!! But if you are f l a b b e r g a s t e d as to why this extroverted small business owner would ever leave the network that everyone is a part of (well, except Dad and a few anti-social paranoiac types), well, here ya go…

Me in 1996. I was prolific AF.

1. I’ll stop embellishing my ego for an online audience and start thinking more deeply.

My greatest bliss is to think up something and then witness someone else interacting with my finished project. I’ve always relished how in facebook I can see in real time people liking my thoughts! But I tend to post on facebook when I should be turning to my sketchbook or typewriter. My status updates are not finished thoughts, they are fleeting notions I haven’t even totally digested yet. Likes and comments on my statuses give me the gratification of being seen as a persona, but the reward isn’t deserved. Despite the praises I am not a Great Philosopher-Writer and (I know this is controversial) facebook is ultimately not art.

Here is another flaw of my human nature: any sort of comment left below my status immediately makes me feel like I have to commit to the veracity of my original notion. I defend it when challenged, even when the challenge is just a question or a gentle alternate perspective not meant as threat. By doing so I have thrown away the critical opportunity to contradict myself! It even says in the the little self description box on my personal facebook, “This artist, contrarian, revealist, was born on the moon then came to earth via a spoon.” It is contrary to the concept of contrarianism if I cannot contradict myself. And it’s not just me, I believe we are all shape shifters who cannot truly be pinned down if we are doing the work of chewing ideas. Facebook is designed for swallowing ideas that have not been chewed and it gives me both physical and metaphysical malabsorption.

Maturity (of both a personal and creative nature) requires long sessions of staring at the world whilst chewing on an idea. On facebook, this chewing on a forming idea is constantly interrupted by my ego’s desire to be seen as a celebrity. Status updates seem like monumental opinions to an audience rather than a casual conversation between real peers. Once, I had a year long writing residency at a historic hotel that many wealthy and famous people stay at. My job was to observe all that went on there and interview guests. After a few months I noticed how the V.I.P. guests always seemed haunted and lonely. Facebook is designed to turn anyone who posts on it into someone of note. But for both facebook manufactured and non-facebook cases of fame clicking on heart reactions cannot remotely compare to the unique eye crinklings of a smiling person.

2. It is an addiction, but not a very good one.

I can think of a few hundred musicians who were addicted to heavily deleterious drugs. Drugs that destroyed these musicians and often took their lives, but still these musicians managed to make a ton of songs that I hum on the regular. Somehow they got more done using those drugs than I do as a long-term user of banal old facebook. Maybe those people were just geniuses and I am not, but how could I ever even know for sure if I have spent my entire adult life wasting undisciplined hours on facebook pretty much every day?

I check facebook between 2–50 times daily depending on how busy I am. And as long as I have an account I am going to feel compelled dip in like a pack of oreos. There is no getting around it for me. I’ve tried the “I only check facebook at this highly specific time” thing and found again and again that I succumb to checking even when I promised I wouldn’t.

What if I just didn’t have one to check? I know I stopped it with the oreos (and bread and about 1/3 of the food supply) when the doctor told me gluten would take my life if I kept eating it. I know I can do this if it’s cold turkey.

3. People like me… I think?

Maybe? I have been asking “Do you like me?” in overt and covert ways on a constant basis ever since I first joined facebook September of 2005. Yet, as I approach 15 years of use I feel less and less confident each time I post a status update.

Will anyone understand me?

The immediate answer is always some do, some don’t quite and then you’ll want to delete the post altogether. Meanwhile, the healthier answer is it doesn’t matter as long as you appreciate your confusingly contrarian self for who you are just as much as Mr. Rodgers does.

Each update I share about my life on facebook feels like it has to be more vulnerable than the last so I can get the maximum amount of likes. Meanwhile, I accept more and more strangers into my pool of friends because I do have a business and these are all potential “contacts.” But now people with whom I might want to do business seem to know details pertaining to my menstrual cycle, restrictive diet frustrations and fervent anti-car sentiments. And they might not know what I can do for them as a creative professional because I have been too busy railing against the glitter industry just so I can collect likes from my folx who are woke to the daily fascism Lake Michigan fish face from microplastics. TBR those hip posts have nothing to do with changing stuff. Maybe without facebook I’d take some time to write Hallmark and ask them to cut it out with all the pretty iridescent flecks. And even with a universal monthly income, things like my fervent anti-car sentiments would still just get in the way of someone thinking “I want this person to type poems at my suburban birthday party.”

4. I’ll make more of an effort to be there.

I’m one of those supportive types who always hits “going” but only shows up every couple years as long as the event is only shared on facebook. The thing is I am completely earnest when choosing “going” on an event but then I always get distracted by a new notification and forget to write it in my paper 1996esque calendar. Meanwhile in slightly less distracting e-mail land if there is something I hear about that interests me I take a pen and write down the time and address under the corresponding date.

The hardest part of leaving won’t be events but missing out on people’s photos and updates. So there are just going to be more phone calls and visits in my future.

5. Cutting down the amount of times I cringe each day.

Reasons to cringe:

· News headlines like “Drinking Red Wine Prevents the Common Cold” or “People With Sisters Are Better People.

· All the photographs of people’s bleeding knees, busted lips and fresh tattoos.

· All the photographs of people’s multi-layered diamond encrusted status seeking engagement rings.

· The authentic concern I get whenever I am trying to be humorous. Example: I shared an article about how public transit in Kansas City is now free and wrote the statement “THAT’S IT. I’M MOVING BACK THERE TOMORROW!” Then I ran into a facebook friend at an event a couple weeks later who seemed confused that I was still in town.

· It is near impossible to share a different perspective on someone else’s post without making it sound like you are angry and ready to argue.

· Every time I post a status someone is bound to interpret it as a cry for help and then deliver some painfully obvious, unsolicited advice.

· The ads that seem to increase in quantity each year.

· The ads that use your phone’s microphone to directly mirror your private conversations.

· What am I revealing and to who?

6. This “professional” hasn’t updated her website in two years.

Because of laziness I just announce things on my facebook fan page most of the time, but how often do I hear “If only you had emailed me” after no one shows up to support me at these events? Often. If I am a lazy person then I would at least rather have the info I need in the world shared in a more accessible way of websites, newspapers or my mailing list than on the blur of facebook.

E-mail is more respectful-professional than facebook messenger. Messenger is designed to harass you about work stuff at all hours. It dings. It pops up on the phone as an icon you have to swipe away at the risk of forgetting to reply if you get rid of it. Group Messenger is the inane reply all from hell featuring twenty or more humans intermittently thumbs upping me into a state of total berzerkment. Email is easier to unplug and ignore in my world, but I take a human way more seriously when they send me an inquiry over email that I may check at my convenience rather than theirs.

7. Um, why are we even on facebook after 2016?!

Our elections are at stake again and yet we keep checking and sharing.

8. If I leave…

A few people have told me I am the best thing in their feed. Maybe if a few more interesting people left there would be less incentive to be there. In fact, I have been thinking of leaving ever since Sue Lawton left a few months back! And Blasted Ellipsis hasn’t been on in a couple years and she truly is the most social of the wild butterflies I know. Let’s all migrate!

9. I will have more time and be more intentional with my life choices.

Instead of facebook I am choosing to have a deeper connection to my creative practice as well as real-world interactions with human beings. These deeper fulfillments will give depth to my thoughts and capacity for delight. And to stay in the loop I have access to NPR, PBS, the interwebs and the New Yorker. All will be well with receiving new information.

Or at least until the arrival of Y2K in another 4 years.

Also me in 1996 exploring the potential of paper bags rather than facebook.