On this blog, I have mentioned my, how should I put it, my tenuous relationship with social media, more specifically with Facebook.
There’s something about social media that is inherently intriguing.
Why post this?
Why not that?
Why “like” this post?
Why not that one?
I have only rejoined the Facebook world since last February, a little over six months. But, I had had an account before. I had a profile and friends on Facebook, but that profile of who I was is now lost into the nether regions of a dormant side of the web.
I found and still do find Facebook fascinating.
In college, when I had my original (non-trans) profile, I wrote two college papers about Facebook. One was for my Modern Monsters class, which I took my freshman year after I was exempt from taking basic college English when I passed on of my high school AP exams.
I honestly don’t remember which one I passed. I took both AP Language and AP Literature on the same day during my senior year of high school. I had wanted to take one during my junior year when I was in that specific AP class, but when I had expressed interest in taking the exam, no one took me seriously because so few people actually took the AP exams, which is why I ended up having to take both exams my senior year.
Concerning the Facebook paper I wrote for Modern Monsters, I honestly have little idea what it was about. Sometime around my sophomore or junior year of college, my college Dell crashed, and I lost a lot of my essays, pictures, and music I had collected over the years. Perhaps, the tagline for Dell computers should have been, “Dude, you’re getting a Dell . . . which is unlikely to survive through the entirety of your four year program . . . and also all the cool people will have Apple and you will instantly regret your decision to have a Dell the moment you step on campus . . .” Alas, that was not their marketing strategy, which is why I no longer have much of an idea of what that essay was about.
Here’s what I know. The class was about monsters in all of their forms. We read Frankenstein, studied the Holocaust, read about fast food culture and its impact with Fast Food Nation, and dived into the American counterculture of the 1970s and the rise of the horror film genre. The last topic of the class was about technology as a monster, and I chose to write about Facebook and walked away with a B in the class, a first in over four years. That B was fairly devastating, and I, for the first time ever, felt inadequate at school. I felt surrounded by people who were smarter than me, and it was clear to everyone that they were smarter than me.
It was about as Twilight Zone-feeling as walking onto the campus and thinking I would quickly meet friends and have a picturesque Central Perk hangout spot as I worked my way through college in an amusing sitcom manner, but alas, I discovered my own naivete.
The second paper about Facebook was written for my autobiographical writing class and was entitled, “Nick’s Five Gnarly Facebook Rules,” which is a very cringeworthy title, not just because of the unpreferred “Nick” but also the use of the word “Gnarly”.
Not cool past self.
But also, reading back through it, I was reminded that the paper was just an excuse to write about asking my then girlfriend on a date via Facebook.
What’s worse, I began my essay with “Oy vey! Do you remember a time when technology didn’t dominate our measly little lives?”, which is about the lamest way to start an essay, but I did it anyway.
Look, I was in college, from a small town, I didn’t know any better.
But, I did my best to type out a written version of the old dial-up modem sound. This was the best I could come up with, “errrrrr-ba-duba-duba-duba-errrrrr-ba-dubba-dubba-dubba”. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.
The rules I developed were as follows:
- Don’t Post Anything You Wouldn’t Want Your Mother to See.
- Avoid Excessive Foul Language and Poor Grammar.
- Know the Difference Between a Wall Post and a Message.
- Don’t Breakup with Someone Via Facebook.
- Never Ask Anyone Out on a Date Using Facebook.
Oy vey, this paper was rough. And, as I stated, this paper was pretty much a veiled to write about my then girlfriend.
But, my tenure with Facebook would soon be coming to an abrupt end. I began my original Facebook profile in 2006 when I was first admitted to college, when only college students could have an account. It felt like such a privilege then. Something critical to achieve in the modern age. Then, as the website began to open up to high school students and more and more people began to join, it felt more and more like Facebook was creating a fictionalized mirror of the real world.
It felt fake and staged.
Where once I was eager to write a status update and post a new profile picture, I suddenly began to use it less and less, then rarely at all.
I left Facebook because I was just tired of it. I was.
But, there was another reason I left.
A reason I could never say out loud.
Sometime, most likely in 2013, Facebook announced that gender options beyond male and female would soon be available.
They were implemented in early 2014.
Facebook was becoming a mirror of the real world, only superficially so.
A version of yourself you wanted to be and show off to the world.
The mere knowledge that gender options on Facebook would soon be available made me deeply uncomfortable, and I deleted my first Facebook profile and pushed the thought of gender variations out of my mind.
I was hopeful these gender discomforts would vanish.
I was wrong.
Also, can I just point out how lame, again, how terrible that second Facebook paper was. I ended with a terrible allusion to a line from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, jesting that my five Facebook rules were more like guidelines.
Sometimes, I really don’t know how I made it through college.