I had an enjoyable day, today. Facebook was down for most of it and, as much as I’d like to say I got a lot done as a result, I definitely did not. Partly because I have already taken steps to disconnect myself from Facebook and partly because it was hard to focus while enjoying the feeling of being free from one of my larger, more nebulous anxieties.
I’m gonna go ahead and say that I understand there are parts of the world that rely on Facebook and the other online services that were completely down for most of the day, and that there are probably a huge number of people whose lives were made worse or less secure by the disappearance of these titans of communication. Being able to easily, and gleefully, exist without those platforms is a privilege born of my place in the world and the plethora of communication forms available to me. Which highlights exactly why it was so relieving for it to be gone.
I’m an incredibly anxious person, which should come as no surprise, and I cannot shake the thought that social media, and Facebook in particular, is ruining the world. Maybe not in so direct and clear a way as global warming and billionaires are, but it’s not that difficult to see how anyone entirely reliant on a single corporation for three social media/communication platforms might be stuck in an incredibly unhealthy system, especially given said corporation’s penchant for profit over people. I use Twitter mostly, these days, and that is can be just as bad as Facebook unless you put in a lot of work to keep it curated and clean of outside shit-fluences.
When I tried to do the same thing with Facebook, it just kept showing me errors–when I’d use whatever the “recent” mode was called–that there was nothing to see because it would tell me I had no friends and no on-record interests to use in making recommendations. It kept showing me “Welcome to Facebook! Add some friends, like some stuff, watch some videos” type messages. It also showed me a feed of nothing but advertisements once. As far as the eye could see. Nothing from my list of 300 friends, but dozens upon dozens of advertisers selling everything from mattresses to aggressive shaving products. Truly, a capitalistic nightmare.
I’ve long been toying with the idea of deleting my Facebook account entirely, and I probably will once I get all my international friends added on other communication applications. I know a lot of people use it for business, and that Instrgram and Whatsapp, two other downed titans, are used even more broadly for general economic purposes, but there is literal proof, more and more with every passing month, that these things are ruining our lives as they sell us to advertisers and actively encourage the spread of misinformation and hate. There’s probably legislative measures that can fix some of these problems, and maybe they’ll even happen considering the recent “whistleblower” activity that’s been cropping up. I don’t have much faith in the legislative process, though, given the events of the past couple decades in the US and the fact that there was a literally treasonous attack on US democracy (if we can even call it that anymore) and none of the organizers have been brought to justice despite fomenting rebelling in public.
It’s just difficult to have hope these days. Facebook came back up while I was writing this and that familiar weight is back: the dread I feel knowing that there’s something actively making the world a worse place and a combination of money, corruption, and power are keeping the system going so that a few people can benefit at the expense of the many. Just like billionaires and global warming. They’re kinda too big for me to be actively anxious about since there’s nothing I can do to change them, but it’s a lot like being in the upper floor of a building that’s on fire. Sure, my room isn’t on fire, but if the lower floors crumble, I fall too. And even if they don’t, doing nothing about the fire means it’ll continue to spread since the fire department seems to be sitting around, unable or unwilling to put the fire out because the arsonists who started it all are arguing with them about what their job is and if this is actually even a fire at all.
I have a hard time writing a metaphor I feel is appropriate for this situation because I feel like the dangers are all incredibly obvious. I’m at a bit of a loss as to how things got this bad, despite how clearly the path from the past to the present has been marked by various investigative journalists and activists, because it could only get this bad if most of the people in power were horrible scumbags.