And everyone who thinks we want to sign in through Facebook. (Google)
I have a complaint. Against you. Or Mark Zuckerberg. Actually, both, I suppose. I have had a Facebook account. Twice. The first time I left was because I was simply tired of Facebook. The second, and most important, was for mental health reasons. That will most likely be it for me. I really wish you could read this, or would read this. Because what you created as a network for your Harvard University pals has become a monster. It does a lot of good, too. That’s the part of it I like. I’ve seen it connecting parents of special needs children, connecting people with common causes for a better world, etc. That is a wonderful thing. But there are other things as well.
I have mental health issues, namely, MDD, major depressive disorder, and GAD, generalized anxiety disorder. I don’t make a secret of it, generally–in fact, I try not to because of the stigma depression and other mental illnesses have. If there’s ever a shooting, the first question asked by the enthralled public, sickeningly, is “Did he/she have a mental illness (usually a less polite variation of the term)?” The answer is usually, unfortunately, yes, to some degree, and the media runs with it, driving people with depression deeper underground, making those who are undiagnosed less likely to seek treatment. The question people don’t ask is, “Why didn’t someone do something for him/her before it got that bad?” and everyone says, “Oh, they seemed so quiet and normal.” Think about that. Quiet and Normal. (capitalization intended). Whatever passes for normal these days. Having a collection of 300 firearms in one’s house seems to be “normal.” But that’s not what I’m here to discuss. I’m here to talk about depression and Facebook. If you were to meet me in person, you’d never guess I had depression, I was afraid of working with a group of people, or any of the other myriad of things that make up my disability. And it is a disability–an invisible one, because, as the beginning of the previous sentence says, you’d never guess there was anything different about my brain than the person next to me (unless they had depression as well, and depression is on the rise, it seems, an epidemic, even. Hm. Let’s look, well, you guys look, and wonder why. It’s pretty obvious, actually).
Depression and Facebook and about how if you are on Facebook, if you fall into a severe enough depression that lasts as long as mine has (and yes, I am in treatment, have a Therapist, a Psychiatrist, and a Primary Care Physician, not to mention the specialists) there comes a point where, even if you just go on to see what friends are up to, some of them, many of them, if you’re like me, are interested in political things and world news and basically just what a terrible state the world is in, it’s going to come up, often, and get discussed. And I discussed it with them. But I had a bad reaction to a medication and ended up having a breakdown; the end result, no more news, local, national, world, or otherwise. I am in too fragile a mental state right now to deal with it, I need to heal. My best friend has depression, and I didn’t understand his aversion to the news. I would talk about it sometimes, and now I know how that must have felt like for him, and I’m profoundly sorry about that. All I can say in my defense is I didn’t understand at the time, even with depression, but now I do. Sometimes it takes all of your energy just to keep yourself together, and there is no time to worry about what’s happening elsewhere. It sounds selfish, but it’s not. What can we, he and I, do about the situation right now? It’s the same as “Healer, heal thyself.” Well, in my quick, non-philosophical interpretation–you can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself first. It takes much more energy than a lot of people would think to keep yourself from flying to pieces. It’s exhausting. Given this, I deactivated both my Twitter and my Facebook accounts.
So I have noticed more and more how Facebook tries to insinuate itself into our lives, and Google as well, but I use gmail, so that one doesn’t irritate me as much, but I suppose it does for people who don’t use gmail. Do you want to sign in with your Facebook account? Well, first of all, I don’t have one, I think, and I imagine the site I’m either new to or about to create a new account for looking affronted. “You don’t have a Facebook account? What kind of person do you think you are? You don’t have a Facebook account? And you think that someday you’re going to be an author? You’ll want a Facebook account _then_ won’t you?”
“Well,” I tell the huffing and puffing site. “I’m not there yet, am I? And no, contrary to popular belief, the world hasn’t collapsed because I don’t have a Facebook account. I don’t miss it very much, although I do miss making silly comments on Jordan L. Hawk’s posts, and KJ Charles’.”
“I never!” If the site had arms, it would cross them.
“And I’m fully capable of using my own email account to register,” I add, as the site’s face starts to turn an odd shade of vermillion. “I don’t need to do it through another site. I’m not that busy.”
Furious exhale. Silence. “You use that whatchamathing, the password thing.”
“Yes, I do. That’s not because I’m too busy. That’s because I can’t remember all of the passwords for each site I use. And I was using the same one for each site too much. If hackers would quit targeting ordinary, normal people like sharks and hit bigger targets, not that I advocate that, but I remember when hackers used to do things for fun, just to see if they could do it, not to hurt little people and ruin their lives. So now we need to have security like the big corporations do on our home computers, as if I’m such a tasty target, with my dozens of ones in the banks. If hackers really want to be helpful, go wipe out the student loan debts, that’s what I say. They could benefit society and the economy all in one fell swoop. But that would be useful, and the last thing a hacker wants is to be useful, a modern day Robin Hood.” I stopped. “That’s not what we’re talking about. Something that remembers your passwords is not the same as having an entity sign in for you.”
The site cleared its throat. “Not just a little? Your password program signs you in.”
“Because I don’t even know the passwords. Now please, be quiet.”
So there is that–yes, my password program signs me in, but after I’ve gone in and created the account myself, other than the password, not through Facebook, which, obviously, I can’t, since I don’t have Facebook. Because of the discussion of the news, and I have depression and shouldn’t read the news right now. For those of you who forgot about that part, due to this pretty silly interlude in the midst of my serious discussion, please see the above. Before the discussion with the computer. I do talk to my computer, and it usually goes a little more along the lines of what I couldn’t write because it isn’t fit to be print. Because of the language. But we do have civil conversations. Often, though, it’s the, “No, thank you, I’ll sign in myself, with my own email.”
I don’t know why it annoys me so much. I didn’t sign in with it when I did have an account with Facebook. I think it has to do with trust. Another story, again, altogether. But I think when it did start to annoy me was when I started reading things I thought someone else might be interested in. It used to be you could just email someone the link. Now there are pages that don’t even have that option. All you can do is post it to some social account–literally, your choices are: Post to Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr. I was appalled when I saw that. Is that what our world has boiled down to? Social media? There are all the jokes about not posting every single thing, every single time you do it, to Facebook. Like a mantra, if I don’t post it to Facebook, it must not have happened. Really, I think you just visiting the bathroom would still have happened, and you will have noticed the effects of it, whether or not anyone else in the world knows. As in the Matrix centered memes about Facebook: “What if I told you you didn’t have to post to Facebook every time you went to the gym?” When someone says “keep me posted,” (that used to refer to the mail, by the way, traditional mail, the post?) they don’t mean every single thing you do. I don’t think my interest in sending an article on lapidary materials to my boyfriend is anyone else’s business, but mostly that they wouldn’t really be interested. So again, if I had Facebook, I wouldn’t post it. I copy the link and send it to him via regular email, thinking how rude of the site not to have that as an option. Sometimes, it’s my fault, and it is an option, stuck up as an icon way, way up in the right hand corner so tiny it can hardly be seen. An oversight on my part. But what seems to be happening more and more often is that all those choices for sharing, including email, seem to be disappearing, and the only choices left are social media.
That, to me, is a severe miscalculation on social media’s part. They’re assuming that the friends one has on social media are the same friends one has in real life. There is a difference, right? There may be some people looking confused. There is a difference, believe me. I don’t have friends in real life, not like in the TV series. It’s not that I’m antisocial, and I do know people and consider them friends, I just don’t hang out with them or talk to them very often. I am less trusting these days, to reach out to new people, because of what happened at work, and I realized one day that the people I “knew” on Facebook, I only knew on a very superficial level–well enough to make jokes on posts, etc., but they weren’t my friends. One I thought might know me a little better, but I was wrong even about that. Not to say that the people you meet online can’t end up being your best friend, because I did meet my best friend online, but I don’t know what the chances of that were. Very slight. I was incredibly, incredibly lucky. But lots of people meet online and fall in love, so who am I to jump to conclusions? I’ve gotten off topic again.
I want there to continue to be options. Because of my depression, it was a smart and healthy choice for me to de-activate the social media accounts I was using. There was a lot of controversy about net neutrality going on before I stopped reading the news. I don’t think it meant that the net should remain free to be controlled by social media, Facebook. Google. People can learn to set up accounts for themselves, thank you very much. In fact, they need to be able to. We don’t need to be an internet society held up by your crutches. There is a wide and vast amount of information available to people should they choose to utilize it, and have the knowledge to use it wisely. Yet they are being spoon-fed by social media to believe they can’t even create their own accounts without the help of Facebook or Google. They can create their own accounts, with just their email address. You could argue it’s safer, I suppose. Who’s to say someone couldn’t put together a Facebook button and slap it on a page for someone to create an account, which then redirects them entirely? The least interference the better. I am capable of creating an account, and I would like to be able to send someone information about an article, without your interference or posting it where no one is interested. It isn’t needed, or wanted. And for some of us, it’s a necessary choice to step back from social media and its out of control mobbing, the land where people think they can say whatever they want to anyone they want because it’s an anonymous forum. In some cases, in cases where people who would normally be afraid to speak out in serious issues, that’s a good thing. But, most likely it’s being used to pick on someone mercilessly, and it’s the evil underbelly of social media that needs to be discussed more, because with generations now growing up from infancy playing with their parents’ smartphones and learning this is normal behavior on the web–anonymity, no ethics, no boundaries, no morals, no empathy, not caring there are real people on the other end; Zuckerberg, what hast thou wrought?