Dear MySpace, I hope this letter finds you well. I know it’s been ages (ten years???) but I’m hoping that it’s been long enough for you to forgive me. I feel bad for what I did. No excuses. I treated you badly. All I can say now is that I’m sorry and that I hope we can move past all that and maybe even be friends.
I guess the real reason I’m writing to you now is to tell you that you were right. About Facebook, I mean. You told me to be careful, and I didn’t listen. You told me Facebook would betray my trust, and it has (over and over again). You said it would change the way I connect to people, and I laughed right in your face. But you were right. In fact, it’s even worse than you said it would be.
Sure, things were all shiny and happy in the beginning. Things were simple. They were… uncomplicated. Casual, even. To be brutally honest, if you’d asked me where I thought it was going, those first couple of years, I’d have said, “Same as MySpace”. I’m not saying that to be cruel. I just didn’t see a future with it. It was just a new-tech game. A novelty.
But then something happened, a game changer. I moved to Dubai and suddenly any platform which allowed me to easily and effortlessly stay involved in my friends’ and family’s lives became indispensable. Facebook went from a meaningless flirtation to a serious relationship, overnight.
Most of my friends, from what I can tell, use Facebook to check in from time to time, but it isn’t their primary friendship medium. They get the face-to-face time that I’m missing by living overseas. So I admit I became dependent on it. Just like you said I would. I’d wake up every morning and gorge on a plethora of interesting and witty, well thought-out statuses (stati???). Things like this (actual status updates used without permission. If one of these belongs to you, you should be proud, but if you want me to remove it just let me know):
Mrs X “is wondering how the child she just gave birth to yesterday is all of a sudden one! That’s one year closer to being a teenager – yuck!” (August 2009)
Mr Y: “The chillies were so hot I cried like a little baby.” (December 2010)
Miss Z “spent five whole minutes looking for lamb backstraps in the beef section. I’m not only beautiful, but I’m wise to boot”. (December 2012)
You know! Fun, silly, inane stuff that made me feel like I was hanging with my gang chewing the fat and shootin’ the shit.
More? How about these pearlers:
Mr A: ” “All flights in & out of Melbourne cancelled due to ash from Chilean volcano” – but how will I get home from Paris? 🙂 (June 2011)
Mr B “made an inane quip about himself in the third person.” (November 2008)
Mrs C “went to bed fine and woke up with a groin injury. Musta been some dream!” (December 2012)
Stupid fun stuff. No-one was trying to save the world. We were just connecting on that “little kid” level that makes friendships interesting and keeps them alive. Dumb stuff that only you and your group of buddies find funny. Facebook was good for that. I know you know what I’m talking about MySpace – I have a feeling it’s what you set out to do and didn’t quite manage. I know you’re mature enough to give credit where it’s due.
I will admit that I kind of got a little bit carried away with the whole Facebook thing there for a while. Obsessed? Perhaps. A smidge. I would “cultivate” my statuses. Something funny would happen or I’d think of something witty (in my opinion, anyway) and then I’d spend time polishing and honing those words until they were just right for posting. I like to think that it was inspiration for the writer in me. And that’s cool. Each to their own, I say.
But things changed, MySpace. They changed slowly at first, but lately it’s turned into an avalanche. At least for me.
My timeline (or feed, or whatever the hell you want to call it) became less about what my friends were doing or thinking or feeling, and more about reposted news items or “interesting articles”. And you know what? I actually caught that train. I figured I was learning something by reading long, obscure New Yorker articles. I was educating myself. But what was happening was that I was spending HOURS catching up on every article which headline caught my fancy. I was going down the hole. So I became more selective. I evolved.
But then there were the petitions. I started off signing everything that seemed like a good cause (Kony 2012 anyone?), and there were a lot of them. But then I’d get spammed by the charities for months on end, plus I started doubting the effectiveness of online petitions, so I just stopped signing them.
I’m proud to say I completely bypassed the Buzzfeed quizzes. What kind of farm animal am I? Fuck off, I don’t have time for this.
Then came the memes. Some of them were funny. Then the funny ones ran out and a cascade of unfunny, uninteresting, irrelevant memes took their place.
Lately it’s the inspirational quotes. How this for inspirational? “My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations.” Are you for real with this shit?? Same with the “copy and paste if you care about cancer” crap? I mean come on! And yes MySpace, I hear you, maybe the crappiness of my feed has something to do with the people I’ve chosen to “befriend” on FB. I get that. But lately I’ve taken the lead of a mate and created a custom list of friends whose updates I see (leaving those crapspirational posts lurking behind the scenes where they can’t irritate me with their uselessness). But even then MySpace, even then, Facebook (the one I picked over YOU) has decided that what I need to see is those custom friends’ likes and comments of shit that has nothing to do with me. WHY????????????
OK, I know I’m ranting now. Yes, I might have had half a bottle of sake (of course you know I’m in Japan, it’s all over Facebook – you guys still talk, I know you do). I guess what I wanted to say was that I miss you. I miss your simple algorithms that didn’t try to get into my head. I miss your easy going ways. I miss your privacy policies. I miss the good old days. Don’t tell Facebook this but I’m seriously thinking of breaking up with it. I’m over its controlling ways. I’m tired of always having to change my newsfeed from Top Stories to Most Recent. I’m sick of playing Facebook politics. I’m done with “liking” shit just to be polite. I want to be real again. And when I said that you and I could be friends again, I was lying. I don’t know what I want but you’re not it. Sorry. I probably won’t even send this lette
I gave up Facebook years ago. You can’t remove yourself from Facebook, only “hide” or make dormant your profile (I guess that way Facebook can say they have more members than they actually have. One day they will have more dead people than live people as members. That is funny!!). Only problem is you can’t view anyone else’s stuff without an active profile. I don’t regret the divorce.
Yeah, they’re tricky bastards, that’s for sure. For now Facebook and I are still together but barely on speaking terms. It’s like one of those relationships you know you’ll be better without but for some reason you just stay. Sad.
I check into FB less and less and I’m kinda surprised I don’t miss it more. It was annoying me with its bullshit so it had to go…(sorta kinda!)
Sooo many people have said the same thing. And no-one misses it. I think it’d be kinda tough to completely let it go, but you’re right, the bullshit level is getting through the roof.
Brilliant idea and very well written. It’s so fun getting to know you, via these ejo’s. You’re a damn good writer.
Hi Terry, thanks so much for the lovely feedback. I totally get off on hearing that readers are enjoying my efforts. 🙂