When People Ask Me Why I Quit Facebook

Something extractive about it, obligatory. You know what I mean? I’m good at overdoing things, and the way Facebook called me to overdo my friendedness made me tired.

Something diffuse, thinning about it. We live in an era in the wired-in Global North where friendship is changing from a noun to a verb: from the pleasure, aspiration, and moral ardor of a few abiding commitments to a diffuse cloud of being friended, a well-wishing whose many-fibered vapor buoys our sense of self. This formulation first got planted in my head by William Deresiewicz’s piece on this, one I still go back to.

Something self-commodifying about it. (I have nothing against commodities; I love commodities. I just got under my own skin when I realized how Facebook had trained me to position myself as a spectacle, a product.)

Something disquieting about how I saw politics manifest on it in my community. An environment where signaling membership and belonging is low-commitment and low-risk, but at the same time depends on an essentially middle-class code-fluency. Folks of our class and culture have been persuaded that virtuous self-expression is itself political. That that self-expression—rather than an ongoing personal relationship with, and practical commitment to, an oppressed community—amounts to categorical solidarity. That politics is about mastering a language. (Don’t want to minimize its potential for contacts among diffuse groups, rapid mobilization, usefully-jarring perspectives: there’s no one right way to do political work. Not intending to dismiss those for whom it’s an essential political tool. It’s just not for me anymore.)

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