Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Word About Facebooklessness

I have had Facebook for five years now. When I look back on all the good times (literally, you can do this on your wall) I have seen friends come and go, flirtations, family stories and Farmville invitations I've consistently shunned. It's really a lot to take in, honestly. Before I hit this mini-milestone and quite to my surprise, some strange part of me said, "maybe you should take a break, man," and so I did. Facebookless ensued throughout the month of February. 

In that one month I learned the most pivotally important and unspoken truth in all of humanity. 


Actually, I just missed Facebook - and the fact that I missed it does tell me something about myself that I'm feeling foolish enough to share. 

There are 400 million active Facebook users. For comparison the United States has just over 300 million users (read: citizens). Of those 400 million users, on any given day 50% of them sign on to check their Facebook - which still happens to be more then three times the current estimated population of the UK. In fact, just for the heck of it you could toss in the current populations of Venezuela, Belgium, and Australia and you'd still have less than the 200 million people who log on daily. 

Ready for some even crazier stats? I hope so, because lets be real, I'm white and white people love to prattle off statistics:

35 million people update their status each day. And if we didn't know that your pet hedgehog had diarrhea we wouldn't know what to do with ourselves.

The average user has 130 "friends" through Facebook. And I bet they all get Christmas cards. 

Each month 60 BILLION pictures are uploaded. We just can't get enough of sharing and viewing each other's family vacation/cat albums. 

Of all of them perhaps the most unsettling and the biggest reason for my abstinence over the past month is this - The average user spends more than 55 minutes per day on Facebook. 

I'm not making this up, it is all available on Facebook's press room page - but then if you're an average user you probably know I'm not making it up. My use of the social networking site has steadily increased over the years, something that I didn't think would be possible post-graduation but as millions of stay-at-home mom's and inefficient cubical workers can attest, it is very possible. Why on earth do we spend fully one 1/17th of our waking hours on this website? 

I think it's because we were made to be in community. In a world that is so crowded, sprawling and disjointed physically speaking, Facebook is the way of bridging the gap and faking our way to closeness with everyone - or anyone. 

And yet, Fakebook or not, I still miss it. I missed it the first week when I felt myself feeling markedly lonelier even though nothing else in my day-to-day routine really changed. I went through a period where I was perfectly okay without it and then there were days when I just opened my laptop and shut it again in disgust. For days it would lie on the floor next to my bed like an ex-smokers dejected Zippo collection, and I had nothing to offer it because, without Facebook, it had nothing to offer me. Could it be that we've given Facebook too much power? That so many hours of human life are channeled through a company that ultimately has a bottom line at the top of their agenda - could that be just plain wrong?

Or perhaps even more wrong is the irony that I fully intend to post this on my wall first thing tomorrow, March 1. You know, right after I check my new comments, messages, and update the world on the status of my fresh paper cut that REALLY hurts sometimes!