Facebook ruined my life

February 4, 2009

— Linsey Fryatt is editor of stuff.tv. The views expressed are her own. –

linseyfryatt-stufftvIt’s facebook’s fifth birthday this week. And while I love every status-updating, picture-tagging, friend-stalking pixel of it, I often wish it had never been invented.

Its obvious time-thievery and propensity to turn me into an obsessive page refresher, jonesing for my next next notification fix aside, I find Facey-B was the first step in a downward spiral (if spirals can have steps) to my entire life being played out online in some form or other. And I’m exhausted.

“The Facebook” was started by Mark Zukerberg on Feb 4 2004 while he was a student at Harvard University. Initially it was a way for the Ivy League students to easily network and identify each other. In half a decade this pet project has grown to over 150 million members and an estimated value of $5billion.

What’s great about facebook is that unlike email, it creates a little online village of your friends – conversations are no longer singular, but circular, drawing everyone into the mix. When I recently asked what my middle name should be, I received answers from the US, France and Scotland, varying from “Sigourney” to “Riot” to “Dimmer Switch”.

What’s also great in a deliciously shallow sense is that it lets you act as your own personal PR agency. Careful selection of status updates, images and daily actions mean that “Brand Fryatt” is far more interesting, funny and having much more fun than the actual me.

But that’s also why it sucks. I find myself poring over my mates’ albums of them teaching in Thailand, skiing in the Alps, partying in Shoreditch, and wonder where my life went wrong, why their friends look more fun than mine, and why I’m still up at 2am on a Wednesday.

And please, can my friends with babies just STOP putting their progeny as their profile pictures? It may have your DNA, but it’s not you. And that goes twice for ultrasound images.

Facey-B has also affected the way I act in the “real world” too. Going to a gig, meeting your mates down the pub, going on holiday – all are at some level Facebook events in my head before they’ve even begun – I start envisioning the Facebook presence before I’ve had my second pint.

Like when digicams hit the mainstream, the event itself turns into an exercise in projecting a good time just as much as having a good time. Note the lack of snaps of people crying in toilets because their boyfriend’s dumped them. Maybe there should be a Miserybook.

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(Graphic courtesy of stuff.tv)

But what stings the most in my love/hate relationship with FB is that it’s only the first step. It’s merely the first stitches in a tapestry of multi-layered communication that could literally end up being my life’s work.

I can send geotagged snaps to Flickr and let Geo Photo stick them in Google Earth, Twittytunes will send a Twitter feed of everything I’m listening to using my Foxytunes browser add-on, I can share my Netflix list with my friends – and Friend Feed will aggregate all this information so that every minutae of my life can become its own mini documentary. And not a very interesting one at that.

But I’m painting a pretty dark picture here – when at their best, these new tools for communication, networking and citizen reporting give the world an amazing (and amazingly democratic) way to keep connected. But happy-clappy webtopia aside, the 55 unread Tweets I’ve received since I’ve been writing this has sent me into a state of utter hypertension.

That’s it – I’m off to change my status to “Linsey is having a lie down”…

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This article its just another iteration of my already fervently opposed position against facebook. Linsey highlighted the pros of using and updating this database as well as some cons, such as wildly trivialising the social activites/inactivites that a person partakes in. Using facebook turns people on the verge into a self professed social recluse, to use a quote: “I start envisioning the Facebook presence before I’ve had my second pint”. Frequent users of this massive databse system seem to usually want to out do eachother, I have heard some funny testosterone fueled conversation comparing the amount of friends one has attached to their name and other such petty competitions. Example: Girl A calls girl B and lets it that girl B updated her facebook profile, immediatley after the phone conversation girl A will be up till 2am on a wednesday night making sure all her photoes are uploaded and tagged and the “What are you doing now” dialogue updated.

I think its safe to say that ever user of facebook, and many non users, realise that this is just another medium with which to map peoples lives, to group and segregate people into social and fiscal classes and assimilate each byte of inormation to further diagnos the actions, passions, emotions of the human being.

Regardless of all this Facebook is a fantastic networking tool when used with subtlety. Why is it so important that all our actions be mapped on a website for all our “friends” and people in our network to see? That thinking will turn you into an incessant page refresher hellbent on seeing the next notification as soon as it pops. In my opinion such boundless obsession of self advertisement is similiar to an adolescent reflex such as making sure that you wear less than all your girly friends when going out, so that you get all the attention and not them. And when does it stop? Does it stop at the trivial, or does it stop only when one has exposed the entire contents of their soul in text and images across a $5 billion website for all to see?

Getting to the stage where Linsey admittedly was at is an inevitability when one feels they need to climb the social ladder. Having said all this, facebook is a great way to do that, though it can be at a large price.

Posted by relic | Report as abusive

Facebook has given many happily married men and women that I know a window to their past. Not only to “friends” but to ex-b/f’s & GF’s and has created (where there once was none) temptation, curiosity, deception (by not telling your husband or wife that you are chatting with this person) and in some cases infidelity. If you can not tell your husband or wife who you communicate with online then it’s WRONG. At the time it seems exciting but in the end, its wrong. And you have the temptation of facebook to thank…

Posted by Jordan | Report as abusive

Here’s my story for those bored sitting reading on the computer.

Last September my boyfriend of almost 10 years and I got married, in a beautiful elopement ceremony. We were both so excited about the wedding and the marriage after.

To back up…..we are ages (me 54 and he 56 now), so we are adults who should know what we are doing. We’ve done a long distance relationship weekends for 10 years…and spent every summer and other vacations together. My husband is originally from where I live. Because of the distance we have kept two houses, one in each city. The long distance involved over 1.5 hour drive each way. We both have children from our first marriages, and now they are independent…well at least mine are..both have great jobs, his still live in his house and pay rent. All the kids are now 25-28 years in age range.

Everything was perfect…until one night in February….I had chest pains and my husband took me to the hospital. I was admitted as they feared I had an heart attack from the blood work. I also had to go to a neighbouring hospital later the next week for an angiogram. The good news is I did not have a heart attack.

The night of my hospital admittance…my husband just melted…he cried and couldn’t drive, he couldn’t use the telephone he was so upset. My daughter finally arrived….(3 hour drive to get to us)… In the middle of the night my husband went on Facebook and messaged a lady he had a relationship with in University….that was the end of our marriage. I noticed that he had changed towards me, but thought he was just worried about my health. He started working out 2 times a day, saying we had had a wake up call. He lost 25 lbs. in 3 months and looked great. He started making excuses about going to ball games, and stuff in the city…which was okay because I felt we’d be together all summer. Meanwhile these excuses were just to run off and be with her. During all of this I decided to sell my big house and found a nice smaller house that would be easier for me to look after until our retirement and we could be together. We both plan to retire within 2 years.

Here’s the sad part…the day after I moved in my new house….he left town and phoned me and told me “We’ve had 10 great years” but “I’m not the one for him”. Through ways of my own I figured out where he was… this left me totally deviasted… in February before I got sick…he had cards telling me how much he loved me, etc.. Everyone could see how much he loved me.

Right now they appear to be trying to act like University kids again….it’s like a fantasy from 35 years ago… It’s like he is trying to be young again. Mid life crisis or really the love of his life? He was willing to throw away what seemed to be our perfect marriage. He even told me after he left, I was the perfect wife that I had done nothing wrong. It was him, and this fantasy he’s had going on in his head for years.

He’s already told me he wants a divorce. We had a marriage agreement (thankfully), but I think this just made it easier for him. His family is deviasted….and hurt.

This is the short of a long story…..I guess I feel had I not got sick…he would have done this some other time…. I’m so confused how can you go from loving someone so much to wanting to be with someone else in a matter for just weeks?? Can something just cause you to snap….and you lose your way and your soul??

What made this all very easy was apparently this lady has an unlisted phone number, so her location was unknown to him. Having the world have access to you via Facebook….made it very easy for him to have a drink and send her an email. The bottom line is he probably would have done this sometime during our marriage, so it’s probably best he’s gone off to live in “Neverneverland”….or is it “Fantasy Land” now. Also, my sickness had nothing to do with him doing this. He said he thought I was going to die….well it was quite clear that night I was not dying!! Just a lame excuse. He said he wished he could go back and not send the email…..but the damage has been done. So many lives have been affected and so many people have been hurt. I still don’t understand woman who get involved with a man when they know he’s married. Where’s people morals and values.

So, I guess I can say I had a Hollywood marriage of 5 months, that was destroyed by the ease of Facebook.

Posted by Sharon | Report as abusive

My parents have not had a perfect marriage to say the least. I have always suspected that my dad had cheated on my mom in the past & he is a terrible flirt which always leaves one wondering. About 5 years ago he got very serious with one of my mom’s best friends. I have no actual proof that they had an affair but in my gut I know that he did. Now I see them all chummy on Facebook and I want to scream. He is publically humiliating my mom. He lives in his little fantasy world while my mom sits at home. In the old days if they had been carrying on, at least I wouldn’t have to witness it as I am now on FB. Well, as I did. I deactivated my account just b/c I can’t bare to read their crap anymore.

Posted by Lori C. | Report as abusive

My relationship with my wife have been rocky over the last ten years. Like a lot of people ther were ups and downs, good times and bad. ovet the last three years, I have medical problems (prostate cancer and a stroke) She was there by my side through it all. February of 2009, she got on face book. She found her ex husband. They chated on line, then called on the phone (she hide the phone called from me until I confronted her with the phone record. They reunited had dinner and lunch. She told me she still had feeling for him and that he wasn’t the bad guy she painted him over the years. She has met another old lover through face book. They both have called her. she would talk to them when I’m not at home or would go someplace else away to talk to them. she has introduce her ex to my daugher. Last sunday she told me that her needs are not being met in our relationship and she wants me to move out. She wants a seperation. She love me and want to be friends in parenting our daughers. Yeah Facebook

Posted by Roger | Report as abusive

Like Linsey, I believe that the most interesting and powerful (and threatening) attribute of facebook is that it enables us to represent ourselves with an unprecedented degree of control and speed, and to an unprecedentedly large audience. Whereas before, we could sms or email words or photos to each other, chat one-on-one via msn messenger, or post videos on youtube (not to mention those more ancient forms of communication: verbal and physical), with facebook we have a unified, integrated and panoptic medium through which we can tailor communication, and therefore representations of ourselves, to all each other at once. We are all (far more so, and more self-consciously so, than before) artists of our own forms, authors of our own lives.

This unprecedented level of control over self-representation is concerning from the individual perspective; as in the case of the anorexic and the bodybuilder, the temptation to become preoccupied with representing oneself brings with it the risk of alienation, self-obsession, and all-encompassing anxiety. In short, we reduce ourselves to objects, and the stress that this subject-position entails.

Moreover, the spontaneity of speech and gesticulation are lost in the facebook universe, and accordingly, also lost is the wonderful unpredictability of these media. Similarly, the panopticism of the facebook platform places an incredible cache of importance on each communication; when we ask a newsagent how much the paper costs, we are unlikely to be as concerned with his or her reaction as when we publish a photo of ourselves to the entire body of persons with whom we’ve ever had social contact.

Finally (and somewhat paradoxically), I can’t help but see facebook as a device that actually places us back in the metaphorical village. Having enjoyed some decades of the sheer anonymity of urban existence, and the electrifying possibility of reinvention of identity that that landscape at least promised to bring, we now once again find ourselves looking over our neighbours’ fences, gossiping at the corner store, scrunching up our faces at our cousin’s husband’s antics. And, more importantly, we now know that we are being glanced at through the pickets, gossiped about at the milkbar, and sniggered at over the dinner table. Our “village” might span five continents and encompass many hundred people, but it nevertheless consists, like it once might have, of people we’re related to, went to school with, worked with, and slept with. No wonder this odd little thing is so incredibly important that we’re up til 2am on a Wednesday doing it…

Posted by Andreas | Report as abusive

Facebook….blah! My family and my ex-girlfriends becoming Facebook friends. People who wished me who I never want contact with again getting information about me through “friends” and relatives.

If you turn down a facebook request from a co-worker you don’t care for…..well, that doesn’t make life at the workplace any easier – does it? And what happens when your supervisor wants to be a Facebook friend? Then you really have to monitor and censor what you or your friends post.

As a part-time actor there is pressure on me from the film company to remain on Facebook in order to promote our films and events. I’m at the point where I might risk my acting career/hobby for the sake of my privacy.

The first six months on FB were OK. But FB has really proven to be a bane of existence for me. I’ve already set my exit date – after my next film premieres I’m bailing!

I am relieved to see posts from other people on this page who aren’t Psychological Facebook clones. I was beginning to think I was completely alone with my mixed feelings about FB.

Though I’m setting my profile cancellation date, I’m a little nervous about it because I’ve heard that leaving Facebook is harder than getting out of the mafia!

Posted by ToughTheMovie | Report as abusive

I vaguely remember life before Facebook… http://jessseeker.wordpress.com/2012/02/ 23/life-before-facebook/

Posted by jessseeker | Report as abusive

Facebook ruin ed my life, I am from the uk and I was using facebook since 14 at the age of 15 I was added by a young man who I was speaking with for a good year until he convinced me to meet him being very vulnerable and having problems at home as I have an autistic brother who at the time was very violent I thought Yeah why not ? and I contionuously stayed there everynight for about a year lieing about where I was and using excuses to where I was. We wasnt in a relationship but he would get angry or if i did something wrong he would be very violent then he admitted his past of really badly assualting woman I ended up in a/e a lot, he hit me round the head once which I had to call an ambulance for because him or his parents didnt seem to be bovered about the fact my head was dripping with blood. He is well known in m town to be addicted to facebook after I returned home I constantly recieved abuse through facebook murder threats towards my family and myself I couldnt sleep and now I have moved out as I do not feel safe there anymore I suffer extremely terrble nightmares and if i think about it to much i get myself into a right old state. still to this day I have not reported it to the police and i wont ever do it because its not worth it but theres much more which I cant reveal as I havent told anyone I dont know why but I just cant. I’m not saying facebook is the reason this happened but if I didnt have facebook i would have never had a year of bullying. I did steal once from him admittedly and I dont know why I did I was in a bad way he would just get angry and jump on me and kick and shake me agrressivily. I would scream and his parents wouldnt do anything! His laptop broke once as he was hiding something on there and he slammed it shut whenever i tried to look and the screen broke to he repeatedly hit me in the head with it …it didnt hurt i protetced my head with my hands. but if i didnt i could have been seriously hurt. I reported a number of things on facebook death threats, just threats all round but nothing its like a bloody robot isnt it? crazy !! I am only 17 now so only 2 years on and ive lost everything i had but now I have a better life and better boyfriend I dont have any friends but im working on it i find it hard to make friends now as I dont like to leave the house unless its for work and I get extremely lonely and I think people don’t want to be my friend because of the nervous person I am. But basically facebook and made a very very negative history in my life so far. With the information I have given you wouldnt understand why I hate facebook but if I could reveal the rest you would… lets just say its shameful.

Posted by J-O-Y | Report as abusive