Quit facebook before you become it

Russ Caditz-Peck

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I use Facebook a lot. So yeah, you got me, I’m not actually planning to delete my account.

Nevertheless, in the spirit of defeating Lisa Curtis and Alex Kerr’s article, here’s why you should: in three easy points.

First, Facebook preys upon the self-involvement of young people, and encourages us to pretend we know who we are.

Everyone say this out loud right now: I am not my profile picture. I am not my status. I am not my favorite movies, books or bands. My Facebook profile is not me.

At an age when many begin to negotiate the complexities of their identity, Facebook offers the easy way out. If only we can pick the right pictures, bands and funny quotes that truly define us, then everyone: including ourselves: will understand who we are.  

Pixels and pictures allow us to simplify our complex identities and simulate them on digestible Web pages. Millions of adolescents: and I’d guess hundreds of people you know: obsessively update their profile pictures, and for what?

Second, on a related note, Facebook is an exercise in narcissism and self-promotion.  

Facebook encourages people to imagine themselves in a fictitious public eye. Facebook users imagine themselves celebrities: constantly under watch, they compulsively seek publicity.  

They spend their nights posing for the camera and days “de-tagging” bad pictures, as if any of this really matters. As long as a “future employer” and your parents don’t see, anything goes.

As Walla Walla resident Don Aschrin points out, “The ‘Wall’ is the weirdest part of Facebook to me. It’s almost like an advertisement masquerading as an intimate conversation. People have personal conversations, but with a public audience in mind.”  

Good point, Don.

Last, Facebook encourages us to replace “real-life” interactions with digital friendship and too-easy politics.  

All of Facebook’s little gadgets are designed to keep us sitting at the screen: and people seem to take the bait. With its surplus of tools for chatting, commenting, poking, gifting etc., Facebook offers itself up as viable way to maintain or develop relationships: as an alternative to face-to-face interaction.  

Political activism via Facebook has been a joke.  

The feeling a youth might have gotten from writing his legislator or protesting a war can now be simulated with any of Facebook’s “Green” applications. Clicking to donate a few grains of rice or joining “Americans for Alternative Energy” makes you feel nice, but it’s more self-promotion than activism.  

Hopefully Obama can change this by harnessing his millions of “Friends” to donate and hit the streets, but until then, Web sites like MoveOn.org take the cake for political efficacy.

It’s true that Facebook is just a tool, and that narcissism is by no means a prerequisite. Facebook can be a great way to supplement daily interactions, and can be a useful social crutch to facilitate low-stakes text ice-breakers.  

But for everyone I know using it to keep in touch with their Aunt Klaudeen, it seems like there are a hundred others wasting their precious youth compulsively marketing their e-image.

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