On Friday I left work early for fear of the major snowstorm hitting the East Coast. I went home and I watched the show Caprica*, which is the prequel series to Battlestar Gallactica. One of the important themes in the show is virtual reality, and social network software taken to it’s logical conclusion (therefore, the plot rightly centers around high school students). This virtual world eventually leads to the development of cylons and, by extension, the destruction of all of mankind–of course.
In fear of this future, I “deactivated” my Facebook account today. I did that because it takes up too much time and makes me feel distracted and it makes me feel lonely, even though I have 465 “friends” on it. To quote Jaron Lanier from this month’s Harpers, “Obviously, [this statement] can be true only if the idea of friendship is diminished.” But it’s tough. There’s a reason this website calls it suicide. Technically, and this is the worst part, I haven’t actually deleted my Facebook account. This is horrifying, but I actually don’t have the strength to convince myself to do it just yet. Currently I can just … log back in… if I feel like it. And I might feel like it. For instance, I might feel like it when I realize that the vast majority of people who read my blog come in through Facebook.
I didn’t really do this just because of Caprica, but because right now I am being innundated constantly by articles, movies, books, ads, all kinds of things which seem to be asking me (and hopefully you will be asked this as well) “Will you be in control of your participation in the digital world, a world which in our lifetimes will become equally important to that of the phyiscal and interpersonal world?” a question which you may be answering “no” to if you are using facebook, since they own everything you put up and sell it. (Plus I’m sick of them suggesting that I’m fat and a single mother and want Uggs.)
I don’t want to hear about everyone anymore. I don’t want to see your friends, I don’t want to see you drinking in Prague, I don’t want to read about your baby, I definitely DO NOT want to hear about your opinion that Obama is a Socialist OR about any quizzes you took. (I mean. There are some babies I like and want to know about them. There are some trips to Prague I want to hear about. But mostly I don’t.)
Right now though, I’m just stepping back and trying to take control over my virtual presence, and take it seriously. By maintaining this blog, my rarely-updated Twitter account (@immerspaetlin), and my email (firstname.lastname@example.org), not to mention the telephone, letters, etc. I like to think I’ll be able to have a fulfilling social life. Right? Right?
Also, if you’re interested, you might watch this episode of Frontline. Just typing that makes me feel like an excitable high school history teacher. But really.
Until later see ya’ll in Second Life!!!!!!!! (jus’kiddin)
*Like Battlestar Gallactica, I feel simultaneously that I LOVE IT SO MUCH and also that the actors are so bad and the symbolism so heavy-handed that I am sick of it. In case you were wondering what I think about it.