When Facebook became a “thing” amongst my peers, I was in my sophomore year of high school. At that time you had to have a “.edu” email address to join, so knowing someone in college willing to lend you theirs was a sign of considerable coolness. I didn’t bother with Facebook. It wasn’t because I didn’t know anyone in college (which I didn’t), but because it sounded like work to create, and even more work to maintain. I had never set up a MySpace for the same reason. Facebook seemed like a similar challenge.
I bent to the will of my peers in my junior year when I realized I was being left out of conversations between my friends (my high school friendships, I now realize, were completely dependent upon inside jokes). At that time, to be a successful individual, you either had a very high Facebook friend count, or a decent number of very active Facebook friends. You also got cool points for every picture posted of you. You got extra points if they were posted by someone else, extra still if there was at least one red solo cup in the picture. The point here is, you see, to create the illusion that you are a highly desired and likable person. Which of course you aren’t. Because you’re in high school.
College changed the game. Freshman year was very similar to high school; peer photos were usually keg parties and other various weekend-designated activities. But sophomore year of college saw a few “first apartment!” photos sprinkled into the mix. By junior year, statuses concerning study abroad programs were followed by photos of France, Spain, Italy, China… Don’t get me wrong, the invites to “SATURDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL PROS AND PIRATE HOES KEGGER @ SIGMA OMEGA NU” and statuses about schoolwork and drunkeness were still the majority. It was just starting to be revealed that there were, in fact, other (perhaps more mature) ways to spend your early adulthood. I mean, that kid you went to elementary school with… the one that said he wanted to be a dolphin when he grew up… is now studying political science in Guatemala (for some reason). That has to give you pause to reflect on what you’re doing with yourself.
Next came the graduation invites. For those of us not yet done with school, these could be annoying to sift through, but still absolutely bearable. For every person you actually knew finishing school on time, you knew four more still in school, and six more who’d dropped out. You also aren’t surprised by the people who are graduating on time. You knew they worked hard. They deserved it. What starts to bug you, though, are the other status updates: the engagements and the babies. What the hell? She’s getting married? I knew her back when she shat in a trash can behind a McDonald’s…Somebody put a ring on that? Worse, somebody put a ring on that before somebody put a ring on me? Is that what we have to do now…we have to shit in trash cans for guys to be interested? Why has no one told me this? I’ve been shitting in toilets all this time like an idiot!
Facebook is no longer an outlet for me. When I log on I see a never-ending stream of engagements and babies. New jobs, new homes, grad degrees… I’m not there. Being a responsible adult is “in,” and I once again find myself on the outside of the cool crowd. You can have your silly social media website, my friends. I’ll stick with the outlet that understands me, the one for the morally questionable, the socially stunted, the perpetually parasitic…
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