I was blocked by Facebook for one month because of sexual display of feelings. While for some this may become a personal tragedy, I lol’d, made a separate account for work and moved on with my life. It was not the first time it was happening to me, and, in my experience, we were not born and raised to touch like, but to have independent spaces to carry on with our existence.
I am at most a rational creature and I liked to think that this view applies to most of my peers. But this is where I went wrong.
The first time I got blocked on Facebook I took it really bad. In my second life I am a photographer, and I used to post a lot of my work (mainly female portraiture and nudes) online. The nipple is not free, so you pretty much learn what happened. Facebook blocks you progressively, so in the beginning it will last for only 24 hours. If you continue to break the rules and express yourself in unwanted ways, your next imprisonments will last for 3 days, one week, and then, one month (or more, if you’re really going the naughty distance). During these periods, you are disallowed to comment, like, send messages, so basically, you can only observe life from afar. If you don’t fall in the rabbit hole of discontent, anger and frustration, you’ll probably not land in the position to have a good laugh (because watching Facebook without interaction can be like watching the Kardashians), or make a social analysis. But, after a few down drops, I became relaxed and decided to study what the phenomenon does to me.
The first thing you will notice is your own dependence of this platform.
In my first days, I got really angry. I wanted to talk to most of the people I normally talk to and I couldn’t. I turned to Instagram as my daily log and uploaded a humongous number of photos to make for the lost validation.
Then I got really bored.
On my other account, I added only a couple of people, those with whom I had to talk daily. This was frustrating in the beginning. My virtual life was going down the drain and I could do nothing to save it.
Then something unexpected happened.
On my 4th day, a guy I used to know from Facebook and scarcely from common acquaintances commented on my last living post. It was audio work he made and I enjoyed it. I wanted to say thank you but, you get it, I couldn’t. So I eventually texted him from my other account. We engaged in conversation and never since stopped, because there was simply nothing else to do except for actually talk, when you cannot go and make a show of yourself online anymore. We ended up together, and this was probably the first good thing that came out of losing touch with my online persona. I lost my sarcasm and became friendlier, happier and more in touch with myself. Because, when the facade we build to express ourselves online no longer serves a purpose, our true feelings and way of being come back to life. Ironic, isn’t it?
Being separated from my daily life on Facebook made other things possible too.
It gave me a lot of time. Yes, time. Because before, I would normally spend the first hour of the morning between snooze alarms in bed, browsing everything everyone did. Sometimes I would postpone peeing or take the phone in the bathroom with me. Now, I decided I lose too much of my time. I ended up watching movies, spending more time with friends, attending events I normally missed because Facebook turns us into FOMO maniacs and makes us fear we’ll miss everything important just because we’re not online.
At some point, the most interesting fact was that I stopped using Facebook completely. I stopped checking my old account and only spoke to the people I wanted to. I was no longer exposed to all the meaningless information I did not want to see and life itself filtered better without a virtual newsfeed. I began to watch T V again and realized I missed late night movies on TCM.
I was ready to embrace a life long of Facebook abandon, when another unexpected thing occurred.
On the 29th day, I celebrated my birthday. I received tons of messages and fan mail which I could read but not respond to. That evening, I went out in a bar with close friends and greeted many people I hadn’t seen in a while. I was planning to respond to everybody 2 days later, when the block would be off, but second life took it ahead of me and filled my inbox, this time, with rants. Someone told me I’ve become rigid and unresponsive. Someone else commented on how I forgot my friends and acquintances. But the worst was, I guess, the person who pointed out I’ve savaged out and can’t say thank you any more. I found this sad, even though I’m aware we can still use phones or other types of interaction to respond to text. I found it sad particularly because I understand our first thought, when we don’t receive an instant gratification, is to dismiss any other possibility that the person in charge could not write us back.
Which takes me to remember how some people called my closest friend when I deactivated my Facebook account in the past to ask if I’m okay. Or if I died. The question that arises with this is actually a severe critique on how we are slowly losing our humanity to permanent validation. Maybe I actually got sick. Maybe I was disabled. Maybe I didn’t have the time to go through mail and respond to greets in no time. Or maybe, I actually got hit by a truck (touch wood).
When I send a message, I don’t expect that person to reply pronto, unless it’s life or death, or work related. Because I am aware most of us are working jobs, have families to spend time with, projects to land and, well, spare time. If I really need to talk to someone, or I have an emergency I use the good old fashioned telephone. And if not, I wait patiently without wrecking my nerves because I know priorities have nothing to do with lack of kindness and respect, but with a top of mind list we make for ourselves. I also know that each one of you, reading this, has, at least once, ignored or postponed a reply due to personal or collateral factors.
I have friends – solid friends – with whom I exchange text once or twice a year. I write them and sometimes they don’t reply for weeks. Sometimes they don’t reply at all but manage to surprise me with a call or mail when I least expect. And I never mind, because I understand their lifestyle, schedules and, sometimes, opposite time zones.
Thus, next time you grow a grudge or bathe in frustration because instant gratification wasn’t there for you, give people the benefit of a doubt. And make a call, for Christ’s sake.
You will feel one hundred times better.
I assure you.