Life Without Facebook. Life Without Ads. Life Without Becomes Life With. I Win.
On Labor Day weekend just past I was sitting at a youth hostel in Santa Fe, New Mexico, being bombarded for what was to be the very last time by memes and images and ads that threatened to anger, upset, and annoy me. I’d had it.
As someone who came to Facebook very late (2015, and only under duress), I didn’t really come to understand the highly addictive nature of the medium until I realized how much time I was spending scrolling through daily sewage to get to the very occasional good bits here and there. I’d found some folks I hadn’t seen or heard from in ages.
Unfortunately, the minimal payoff for the tiny occasional gold bits that shimmered in my pan ultimately didn’t justify the almost-daily blood pressure spikes and visual trash that upended my world. That Saturday night I embarked on the journey to detach the umbilical cord. After four hours of fighting with various browsers (none of which allowed me to download the instructions page on how to delete my account, how handy for Facebook) I turned to my phone.
That allowed me, in a matter of seconds, to say Fuck You to Zuckerberg and Company, along with the thousands of annoying pop up ads and videos which infect my research work. They’re not all gone, but enough of them are so that working on my computer isn’t a constant exercise in being invaded by demon aliens.
I don’t give a flying shit about your videos, your stories, you moronic ads. I am exhausted by the efforts of so many otherwise very bright people to shove shit in my face all day long.
This whole experience has been an exercise in establishing boundaries. It’s bad enough that a typical network program- scheduled for an hour of viewing- is only 47 minutes, and on cable only 44, and that the majority of those programs speak to the lowest common denominator.
We are slammed, bombarded, invaded, offended by ads to fix our asses, our pussies, our stench, our penises, our wrinkles, our constipation, and promises of pills to fix every single thing under the sun. Most of it is outright balderdash, a handy old- fashioned word to replace how I really feel about it.
There’s a perspective here, which is heading into the stratosphere in terms of ideas, but it’s useful in terms of how we turn all this sewage off. In the highest sense, we are not our physical bodies. Now, this might come as news to those who are utterly and totally invested in their looks, but the simple truth is that our worth as human beings has nothing whatsoever to do with our bodies. Nada.
Any religious teaching at its core will underscore the simple truth that the only thing that’s eternal is the soul, which shrugs off all this meat and skin and bone, and heads to whatever is next.
However, that takes faith, which is in pretty short supply to the so-called faithful. Despite the admonition that one isn’t supposed to put false gods ahead of the One they say they believe in, Self-worship comes before all other things, and if that doesn’t break a pretty important commandment, then I have difficulty understanding what does.
However, industry counts on our self-worship, the addiction to being superior and the dedication to the Self that is so prevalent in Western culture. The cult of ME, the love of ME, the decoration of ME. So that I can be beautiful, handsome, sexy, gorgeous, better than YOU.
Implied superiority sells.
We are not our bodies.
What a disappointing message to those who make their money convincing us that our entire value to society is determined solely by the size of our asses, our breasts, our penises, the number (or lack) of our wrinkles, grey hairs, the quality of our clothing, the color of our skin, the like. The entire industrial world will come crashing down around our ears should we honestly and truly get the message that you and I are NOT our bodies.
We inhabit them, we borrow them, use them and abuse them as is our wont.
But they don’t define our value.
They are the vehicles for our growth,or lack thereof. And therein lies the real message. Especially in industrialized society where selling shit to stupid people (and I have been one, and on occasion still am one, please count me in here) is the Almighty God. I still buy stupid shit. That’s how ingrained this is.
Like most of us, I grew up with those values, as my parents were subject to them. It’s impossible for me to exorcise them completely, as they were ingrained from youth. It’s in industry’s best interest to ensure that we are deeply insecure about our looks, whether you’re Asian and embarrassed about your lovely almond eyes and hate your yellow/brown skin, or you’re Western and hate your white skin and your aquiline nose.
There are products and surgical procedures for both ends of the spectrum. Anything to make money based on our fascination and obsession with the Self above all things.
Including the God that we say we praise, no matter what religion we ascribe to. It’s been this way since the very beginning.
Um, no we don’t. We praise ourselves, our bodies, our looks, our sexuality, above all things in this society. Business counts on it. All you gotta do is look at the ads, folks. On the other hand all you gotta do is look around in church on a Sunday to see who is trying to impress everyone else in their Sunday best.
Then how they shun a dirty homeless man who shows up because he needs to be fed spiritually, emotionally, and to survive.
I have allowed these messages to convince me to starve and abuse my body for decades, to submit myself to surgical procedures to “fix” what was wrong with me, to spend untold thousands on clothing that I never wore, to buy makeup and lotions and potions that I rarely used. Absolutely nothing external that I ever bought or did to myself got me love, acceptance, money, jobs, recognition or anything else.
Folks, that’s fucked.
The only thing that ever opened the door to better relationships, friendships, love and better income from my work was damned hard personal work. The failures and faceplants and stupid shit I did that caused me to look hard and do better.
You don’t see Coke selling that. They sell dope. Plain and simple. Billions drink that Koolaid all over the world to look cool. What that does is drain water supplies, rot teeth, cause osteoporosis and obesity. Yah. That’s cool all right. Misery for your money. That’s what we export.
So-called luxury items you can load up in Duty Free? Alcohol (no amount of alcohol is good for you PERIOD) and cigarettes (don’t get me started.) Luxury items? Yah.
Facebook was just one more source of incessant noise that tended to make me question my value based on a pack of lies. The internet — along with all its endless possibilities- is primarily seen as a way to deliver ad messages as frequently and invasively as possible. I spend an unbelievable amount of time and energy closing ad windows and shutting the shit down. I am tired of being harangued about what’s wrong with my body, my face, my age, my physical self.
I am exhausted with being told that this or that pill will make my crap move better through my colon or that I will have more energy if I just take this prescription.
ASK YOUR DOCTOR! GET ADDICTED!
I shut down Facebook. I hardly bother with Linked In any more because I am tired of people who try to monetize their connections. Fuck your bots and your fake emails and your fake interest in my world. As for television, which I don’t watch much, I tape everything and delete the commercials.
I crash anything that pops up on the screen even if it’s mildly appealing, if for no other reason than some POS monitoring system is watching every single move I make on line. One swipe, one key touch unleashes an avalanche about useless junk that I could care less about.
FUCK YOU Big Brother.
Life without Facebook has become Life With: Time. Space. Quiet. Peace. Calm. Joy. Laughter.
Freedom. The kind of freedom that I grew up with on a farm. In the woods. The freedom to not have to tolerate your mindless invasion of my internal space.
I no longer feel like a princess in the castle with invading hordes surrounding the moat trying to get my money, my eyeballs, my bandwidth. That’s an apt description for any damned fool online these days.
This is a small victory in the war against my privacy. However, I win, you bastards. Every door you open I am going to close it, even if it means heading to my local library and reading books (which I do anyway, but what a great motivation to get back in the habit).
At least until some asshole figures out how to place pop up ads between every page to sell us toxic prescription drugs. It’s coming. Count on it.
I win because while I still care about how I look and feel, I know that no product, no magic potion can make me as healthy as the steps I’m getting ready to run this morning. No pill can improve my life as well as the good food I ate for breakfast. No magic prescription can give me the level of energy I get from taking care of the temporary housing- my body-that I inhabit for all these years. No fancy clothing can make me a kinder, better person as powerfully as the hard work I have to do to face my inner demons.
Because in the grace of the silence that I’ve recreated, I can ponder. Pray. Meditate. Learn to watch my thoughts and be responsible for what I create. I can regain my quiet. Make myself a better person to hang out with. That’s what gets me love, friendship, happiness, joy, a life worth living. Funds that I can use to pay for adventures that I really, truly care about-because they erase my boundaries and I come home with more family.
Facebook doesn’t give me that. Social media doesn’t give me that. I give myself that. And so can you.
Make no bones about it. This is a war on you and me and everything that is truly important. Your soul, my soul, our kids’ souls, in other words. Want it back? Shut it down. Shut the faucet of shit off. Learn to be alone, be in the quiet, be in nature. Learn to appreciate your own mind, without the constant needling about your physical inadequacies. They are meaningless.
Learn to take a walk when you get upset and mad. Learn to read when you need a break. Learn to put everything down, and just sit and BE when you feel overwhelmed. Learn how to be in your own, very temporary, skin. Learn to appreciate the skin you’re in because baby, that’s the only one you get this time around. Learn to not give a holy shit about who’s wearing what at Milan Fashion Week or that uber-moron excrescence Kim Kardashian and her I’m-Better-Than-Jesus fruitcake who is her husband. Meaningless. Take your soul back.
It’s the only geography you truly own. It’s worth fighting for, especially in a world where our leaders have openly sold theirs to the highest bidder.
In case you’re curious about how we got here, take the time to watch the superb BBC documentary The Century of the Self. If that small investment in understanding how we’re being manipulated, and how easily manipulated you and I have been and still are, doesn’t motivate you to start turning off the insanity, nothing will. There are evil forces. There is a Darth Vader. He is legion. We let him in all day, every day when we suck from the firehose of social media.
Will I use the Internet? Of course. However each day some new dope comes up with yet another new way to launch an attack on my space. And I will respond in kind.
I can’t speak for anyone else but for my part, and for this I thank my military training, I have set up a 24/7 border patrol. My soul isn’t for sale. And no thanks, I’ll pass on that Koolaid.
Now I’m going outside to play.