Thursday, February 14, 2013

12. Facebook, pt. 2, or Life in the Woods - February, 2013

"Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes." -Henry David Thoreau

A little more than a year ago, in the first installment of Simple Displeasures, I compared dropping off of Facebook to Thoreau's move to Walden Pond in the 1840's. He lived alone, grew his own food, and enjoyed the peace and quiet of solitude.

Thoreau stayed at Walden Pond for two years before moving back in with civilization.

The book Walden is his permanent record of those two years.

I stayed off Facebook for one year.

I wonder if Thoreau felt the same sense of guilt that I feel; a need to justify my return to civilization, a slight embarrassment when explaining it to my other anti-Facebook friends.

I will admit that I enjoy being in touch with friends who I don't see in person, but I still distrust the Facebook Corporation every bit as much as Thoreau distrusted 1840's civilization.

I have also been surprised to discover that a growing number of my real friends have also been turning against Facebook. Several of them have either deactivated their Facebook accounts or they simply don't log in anymore.

Before you gang up on me and call out my comparison, I am aware that on the surface, dropping off of Facebook seems nothing at all like moving to the woods.

In fact, I also have a deep secretive impulse to someday ACTUALLY move to the woods, without a computer, cell phone, car, television, radio, ipad, or any other gadget invented since 1850. All I would need are a collection of books (you remenmber those things? those bulky contraptions made of paper?) It's true. I might do it.

I won't last two years, like Thoreau did, but two months like that sounds deliciously quiet and peaceful to me.

This is the sad state of anti-social behavior in the 21st century; two months without social media is an eternity.

And even the guy who threatens to drop everything and move to the woods is now back on Facebook.

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." -Thoreau

Peter Wick
February 14, 2013