How Low Can You Go ?

Limbo Craze

An hour or so after I delet­ed my Face­book account, I got an email explain­ing that in fact my account had only been deac­ti­vat­ed but it would “be per­ma­nent­ly delet­ed with­in 14 days.” Which means it wasn’t delet­ed at all. If I logged in dur­ing those four­teen days, the delete request would be can­celed. I’d have to can­cel all over again and wait anoth­er two weeks. I was in Lim­bo.

I knew I wouldn’t make it. I quit in the first place because I have no self-con­trol. I was com­pul­sive­ly check­ing FB fifty times a day. When I wasn’t on it, I was think­ing about it — which pho­to I’d post, or which inane arti­cle I’d share, not to men­tion all the out­rage I drummed up respond­ing to every­one else’s out­rage. I wouldn’t be able to stay away for four­teen days. And why four­teen days ? Why not twen­ty-one days ? Why not sev­en ? It wasn’t arbi­trary. Noth­ing on Face­book is arbi­trary.

To Face­book, each of us is a gold nugget of data. No, that’s not right. A nugget of gold is use­ful only once, when you sell it. But a radioac­tive gold nugget is dif­fer­ent. Face­book has fig­ured out a way to enrich us like ura­ni­um so we siz­zle and radi­ate away our half-life into the ether day after day. A radioac­tive nugget is a life-long gold­mine, and no way is Face­book going to make it easy for that gold­mine to dis­ap­pear. I had been active on Face­book (a gross under­state­ment) for almost sev­en years. None of my likes and posts and shares and quizzes and com­ments were use­ful to any­body even a few hours after I made them, but to Face­book they were iso­topic ever­last­ing gold­en gob­stop­pers, which is why they’re saved in per­pe­tu­ity. I’m sure Facebook’s social engi­neers, or Fascisti­neers for short, burned through months of data, cash, and guinea pigs to fig­ure out that twen­ty-one days would make peo­ple think something’s fishy — noth­ing takes twen­ty-one days to delete ; sev­en days would be too fast for most peo­ple to have sec­ond thoughts and change their minds. Four­teen days must have been sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly deter­mined to be the sweet spot, and I didn’t stand a chance.

But it turns out I did. After a cou­ple days, the com­pul­sion fad­ed. After a few more days, I stopped think­ing about Face­book entire­ly. When some­one told me about some­thing they read on Face­book, I had a sort of men­tal gag reflex. I didn’t care and I didn’t want to hear about it. The four­teen days came and went four days ago, and I’m real­iz­ing it only this morn­ing.

I miss my friends on Face­book. I met a lot of new peo­ple there from around the world who I’d nev­er get the chance to meet oth­er­wise, and I stayed in touch with fam­i­ly and old friends too. All that is gone, and that’s hard. I live a pret­ty qui­et life, and I don’t take friends light­ly. I used to say I might be alone but I’m not lone­ly, but I feel lone­ly now. I also think it’s okay to feel lone­ly. It’s okay to feel bad. Now may­be I’ll do some­thing about it — seek out friends close to home, get out of the house, etc.

But on the oth­er hand, I feel like I’ve gained at least two hours a day. It was unset­tling at first because I didn’t real­ize what was hap­pen­ing. It felt like the clocks were run­ning slow. But now I’m lov­ing the extra time in the day to work. Beyond that, my mind has start­ed to calm down. If the mind is like a car’s engine, my idle speed was way too high. I was burn­ing fuel and and wear­ing myself down for no rea­son, revving hot and fast all the time. It feels like my mind has set­tled into a calmer, qui­eter nat­u­ral state. The­se days I’m in the mid­dle of a very stress­ful and unhap­py divorce, and recent­ly I’ve fal­l­en out with a good friend I love ; yet even with all the anx­i­ety and exhaus­tion and sad­ness, I’ve been calmer and less scat­tered than I can remem­ber being in years.

But did Face­book real­ly delete my account ? I’ll nev­er know. If I check, there’s a very good chance I’ll be right back where I was 3 weeks ago. Lim­bo is the very edge of Hell where sin­ners must wait for the pos­si­bil­i­ty of sal­va­tion, but it’s also a super goofy dance.

6 thoughts on How Low Can You Go ?

  1. You are missed. Your posts, thoughts and rants were some­thing I looked for­ward to. That radioac­tive ephemera has stick­ing pow­er.

    I hope you are enjoy­ing your extra two hours. And I will hold you respon­si­ble if I waste time on crap movies and tv because I didn’t read you take­downs first.

    • Thanks, Ed ! And I grudg­ing­ly accept that respon­si­bil­i­ty. By the way, I’m lov­ing all the recent work you’ve post­ed on Insta­gram.

  2. I’m total­ly with you on the com­pul­sion fad­ing.
    Also on the lone­li­ness. Being self-imposed does not make it eas­ier. Odd­ly enough.
    My news black­out, on the oth­er hand, suf­fered a brief “lights on” and all I saw depressed me to no end. That made the turn­ing off the lights again a more plea­sur­able and relief seek­ing act. I’ve seen the expres­sion “Trump bunker” used a cou­ple of times. I’m sav­ing up.

    On a side note, that “Share this on face­book” but­ton is star­ing at me like a dare.

    Great read.

    • Sor­ry I missed this, P. A news black­out is even braver and more seri­ous than a Face­book mur­der. I envy you even try­ing. And please do share, of course. I dare you.

  3. Hey, Glad you made it ! I’m still here. And I enjoyed this post just as much as the fb ones. I’m get­ting more involved on my tum­blr now. If you ever go that route : iloved­mu­sic is my han­dle. :-)

    xoxo

    • Are you kid­ding ? I def­i­nite­ly will check it out. I love see­ing your Insta­gram posts too. That one with Der­rick Carter was awe­some.

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