Face to Face

Sep 7, 2011 at 5:00 am

It was hard for me to leave you, but I needed to find myself again.

It will come as no surprise that my search has me boxing the compass in the same fishing grounds where you found me. Aimlessly steaming along, trawling for virtual virtue, some commonality or purpose in the overwhelming gale of human knowledge systematized, fictionalized, documented or otherwise codified in binary code on the Internet.

I’ve even checked Myspace a few times, sheepishly remembering when I took comfort in saying, “I just have a profile so that people can hear my music.” Childish delusion.

I did want what you provided: an “endless high-school reunion” safer than the imminent oblivion of the real thing. You made it so easy, Facebook. I don’t even know what to do with the Internet anymore. I hold it in my hands like a set of bagpipes or an abacus, saying, “How in the fuck do I work this?

Sure, I read some newspapers and magazines more than I did before, but with no one to applaud my skill at reposting the observations and creativity of others, there’s no place to paste the URLs that are burning holes through my Ctrl V buttons. Sure, doing research is more productive and less frantic, but there’s no one to be impressed by my probing insights into global geopolitics and fart jokes so ingeniously rendered in less than 420 characters. What am I going to do now with the untold hours not spent looking at your simple blue and white screens filled with ads and live streaming feeds of sleeping puppies and conspiracy theories?

Part of me just feels lost. The overwhelming, compulsive urge to circle back to the safety of my home page is still present like an itching phantom limb. What are you doing, Facebook? I’d like an update.

I thought I’d hear from you by now. I was sure you’d send a dozen emails detailing how much you and my friends missed me. But I’ve not heard a peep from you. True to the terms of our separation, you’ve kept to yourself. You could never be alone for long. You’ve got lots of friends. You never met a stranger. I know that all I have to do is show up at the front door of your login page, enter my username and password, and you’ll take me back, baby, no questions. I know you’ll take me back because I’ve left you and returned before. All I have to do is reaffirm my vow to willfully accept that every stupid, insightful, incendiary, inflammatory and potentially treasonous thought that I may offer within the walls of the home we share, which once seemed so safe, will be held in the dark memory banks of your server and sold to the highest bidder.

Groups like the anarchist hacker nerd cabal “Anonymous” are saying you’re a proxy mole for the shadow government, that you’ve ingeniously established a platform where all of us effectively volunteer to lay out our private lives like a research corpse on the desk of Big Brother whose endless algorithmic scrutiny of our persistent, fetishistic impulses to watch videos of kittens sleeping, dogs falling down and Roxy Music is somehow useful in dominating our collective political and psychic spirit, shepherding the zeitgeist into servitude. They’re planning to destroy you on the fifth of November.

Can we catch up for one last cup of coffee before then, Facebook? You can tell me zany stories about all of the people I know who grew up in the Highlands in the ’80s and ’90s, and remind me of the good times I already lived through with the people who I already love. Maybe you can direct me to some pointed readings on the ascendancy of the tea party, or the fraudulence of the IMF, the World Bank, the Fed and Bob Seger. Or maybe you can buy me a few beers and listen as I launch into a deftly worded rant about the frightening expansion of American hegemony. After that, I’ll make you watch a video of Prince, Michael Jackson and James Brown performing together — it may change your life. Or maybe we could just talk about how plastered you were at the bar last night.

You’ll tell me you miss me, and that my Facebook friends miss me.

And I’ll say, “I know. But it just wasn’t working.”

Reading: Sherman Alexie, “The Facebook Sonnet.” Watching: “Anonymous” videos.