The Ultimate Quarterlife Cleanse: I Deleted my Facebook Account

May 19, 2010

You did WHAT?

I deleted my Facebook page. It wasn’t a decision I expected to make, but the signs were there for a while. I deleted my MySpace account a few months ago, but I hadn’t used it in years for anything other than stalking my high school boyfriends and listening to new bands. It was more a matter of housekeeping than anything. Just like deleting your Match or Roomster profiles when you no longer need them. But deleting my Facebook profile was proactive- a decision.

The first thing that made me realize I might want to delete my FB account was the development of memorializing someone via their profile page. The internet is still learning how to handle information when someone dies. I’d hate to think that the last thing that people see of me for all eternity is my status update about eating at In-N-Out Burger or posting the most recent viral video involving Single Ladies. I’d like to be remembered for more than just fleeting thoughts and high scores on Block Breaker.

(For the record, there is a new company that deals with your online property. Legacy Locker was created by an entrepreneur whose grandmother died without passing on her email password. With this company, you can designate who gets the password to each of your online sites. Don’t want your mom to know about your porn subscription? Leave that password to a trusted friend.)

Step 2 in my rocky relationship with Facebook was their requirement to make my password “more secure.” More secure made me laugh so hard I wet myself. I’m publishing my information on the internet, and you care if someone can get in and change my favorite book from Madame Bovary to The Davinci Code? I made my password Ih8tefacebook. It was a reminder of what a pain in the ass this advance in social networking thing was.

Once my password was more secure, I realized that Facebook knew a lot about me. I had to reenter the new password on my computer, on my phone, on my app for my phone, on my app for my iPod. They have access to information about where I am, what I’m doing, who I’m with, and what I’m consuming. I’m no conspiracy theorist, but Big Brother seemed to be invading my personal space.

Do we really need to be so connected all the time? This password phase of my Facebook downfall coincided with me getting my first smart phone. I’m a Google junkie and I like to know information all the time. If I can’t remember that actor’s name from that movie that I kind of liked that one time- I like to be able to find it. If I’m lost and I need to find the closest caffeine fix, I’d like to be able to look that up. However, once I got the smartphone, I didn’t have to pay attention to the world around me. Standing in line? I can check my blogs. Waiting for someone to meet me? I can text them while reading their Twitter feed about being stuck on the Bay Bridge. I used to revel in life’s little oddities that you only notice when you’re in limbo. With more connectivity, I ended up less connected.

This led to the next step on the downward Facebook spiral: deleting people I wasn’t actually friends with. Parents of my friends, people I had met online, old high school friends with kids and boob jobs- all of them went the way of the delete. I changed all of my security settings to “friends only” and ignored friend requests from former babysitters. “You have 267 friends” quickly went down to “You have 80 friends.” And I didn’t miss them. Those Facebook friends are filler; they’re the breadsticks at a nice restaurant. I felt triumphant for cutting out the carbs and really narrowing down my connections to people I knew.

Only days later, Facebook changed their security settings to do some things that I don’t really understand. What I do understand is that I suddenly had requests to add applications relating to my schools, jobs, and interests. It’s one thing to tailor the ads I see to keywords I type in, but ferreting through my profile to expand your network of applications seems like going a bit too far. Big Brother had stepped back in. The thought police were on my tail, but this time they were trying to sell me half priced cupcakes and tickets to the opera. However, my repulsion wasn’t immediate. I didn’t click delete for another couple of weeks. I tightened my security and went about my internet day.

Then came South Park. I know the creators say that they don’t plan on making social commentaries or motivating change in the world- they just want to make a funny show. But you know what, I don’t buy it. The episode “You have 0 friends” aired on a Wednesday in April and it started to leach into my soul. Facebook is dumb. Super dumb. I started to want the part of my life back that I had voluntarily given up to the soul sucking Book.

Those 80 friends I was so proud of whittling down to were suddenly a vast field of people I hated. Sure, some of my good friends were there as were some really interesting people with whom I had reconnected. I started to realize that I was making excuses not to get rid of Facebook. I didn’t need it anymore, I didn’t want it anymore. Those people who were part of my life were still going to be there, even without Facebook.

The final step was Betty White. Perhaps its too ironic for you that the final steps in my Facebook downfall were motivated by things I saw on Hulu, but whatever. I’ll work on that personal flaw next. If you’ve been living under a rock, or don’t have a Facebook page, you should know that Betty White became the host of Saturday Night Live because of a massive Facebook campaign. She addressed this in her monologue saying,

“You know, I have so many people to thank for being here, but I really have to thank Facebook. When I first heard about the campaign to get me to host Saturday Night Live I didn’t know what Facebook was, and now that I do know what it is I have to say it sounds like a huge waste of time. I would never say that people on it are losers, but that’s only because I’m polite.”

Ouch Betty. Ouch. If Betty White thinks I’m a loser, it must be so.

I posted a status update that within 24 hours my profile would be gone. It had been weighing on my mind for a while, but Betty White convinced me. So far, the detox has been fine. I haven’t felt the urge to status update, play block breaker, or check on my zombie hoard. I never got into Farmville, so I’m not saddened by dying crops or wandering pigs. I still have a Twitter account where I can post viral videos that I need to get out of my system. I also have a Livejournal account that is fully protected should I need to rant about my job or society.

The internet has brought us a lot of things. Some of those things are good and some, not so good. Sometimes it’s hard to tell one from the other. We, as Quarter-lifers, have known social interactions without the computer. We have known going out with friends where you had to plan in advance because who would have a cell phone on them? We have known our parents telling us to keep it short online since we were being charged by the minute. I believe that it is this understanding that led me to feel uncomfortable with Facebook. I’m under no illusions that my information is secret online or that I control less of my information than I think. But actively handing over myself and forfeiting any control I might have seems counter to maintaining that self. When everything is public, what do you get to keep for yourself?

Addendum: Since I started writing this article, there has been a major movement to delete your Facebook page. QuitFacebookDay.com asks you to take a stand against Facebook and their poor privacy policies by quitting on May 31st 2010. They suggest some alternative social networking sites, but I suggest taking a break. Live without social networking for a year and see how things change. What will you do in the time you used to check status updates? More importantly, what will you get back?

A Quarterlifer Abroad: Jailbreak!

May 19, 2010

This article finds me in the middle of a tropical thunderstorm. I am humbled, and, frankly, a little rattled. Picture windows are great at first – I was able to curl up on the couch and watch the neon-purple forks of lightning streak through the sky, and even attempted to take a few pictures. A few window-shaking thunderclaps later, I am a pair of giant eyeballs glued to the window and slouching down in my seat. I was watching a bird fly through the storm, and realized we’re probably all scared out of our wits. If humans aren’t ever really comfortable with the sky cracking open, why should animals be? I wonder where the iguanas, geckos, squirrels and bugs go during storms like this. Probably in my house, actually.

The sheets of rain have turned to regular drops now, and the grass is a blazing green. Nature is on high here, as the plant life seems to soak up water as soon as it falls. It’s the end of April already, and the rainy season has started, evidently. It’s still quite warm outside, but – another neon fork of lightning in the distance! – the rain looks cold and very, very wet. We are constantly surrounded by construction work, as we live in a newly developed area, and a lone builder is barely visible behind a green, mesh tarp. He is sitting on some cinder blocks under the shelter of the home he is building as he patiently waits out the storm. Good thing; a few minutes before the rain started, the sky was aglow with lightning flashes and he was working away on the roof which has about 30 metal rods sticking out of it. For us North Americans, lightning means take cover, cancel your soccer games, get out of the pool, pack up the picnic and light some candles. For the Nicaraguan builders, not working means no money to send home to the family. As I type this, a man in jeans and a hard hat is walking around with a wheelbarrow full of scraps. I’ve already imagined a mind’s-eye scenario where he gets struck by lightning and I run out, screaming for help, poke him with a piece of wood to make sure he hasn’t become a superhero bad guy, and then drag his sizzling body to my house where he wakes up and we’ve all learned a valuable lesson.

As a result of my living here, I have seen not only the gorgeous wonder that is Comunidad and the surrounding area, but also a bit of a darker underbelly. We’ve had one or two attempted robberies, seen some drunks (well, the same guy multiple times) passed out among rotten mangoes on a Saturday evening beneath a fruit-laden tree – nothing too surprising for any country, really. We were more shaken, however, when we got a midnight call from our student-teachers telling us that they had been accosted for walking around without their passports and were being taken to jail. Uh-huh. Ryan and I threw on our clothes, Easter egg-hunted for passports, and drove the 25 minutes to Liberia where they were being held. We arrived, camera in tow, and found the girls safe and sound but restricted to a bench next to several prison cells. In the same area – having been arrested at the same time – was a seven-piece Mariachi band in green and white ruffled suits, looking somehow more forlorn than our Canadian comrades. Where was Chevy Chase? Where was Steve Martin, with a headache and a grinning John Candy in tow? We couldn’t help but laugh.

The ones who weren’t laughing were the police officers with three-foot machine guns who blocked my entrance into the area where my friends were being held captive. Once we handed over the passports, however, the immigration officer was all smiles and shaking hands. It turns out that the girls had been taken to the slammer in the back of a pickup truck, with Mariachi on their tails. The most outspoken of our student-teachers yelled the story of what had happened across the jail to where we were standing outside. She had a pretty good sense of humour about it: the officers had exempted her from riding in the back of the truck, offering her the passenger seat since she was pregnant. She was wearing a babydoll-style dress that emphasized her definitely-foetus-less tummy. Well. If I am to be honest with you, I have been asked if I was with child as well since I’ve been here. Some of us like to eat a big dinner, ok? I don’t know where the food goes in Costa Rica, but our Canadian stomachs get full from time to time. Jeez.

So, it appears that the moral of the story is: jail and thunderstorms are everywhere – even in paradise. Sometimes, shit happens and there isn’t much you can do about it, except carry your passport and a poncho around with you when there’s static and mischief in the air.
Until next time, stay out of the rain and/or jail, and eat plenty of fibre.

Movin’ on Up!

May 13, 2010

Are you about to graduate and find yourself packing your entire collection of Neil Gaiman novels into cardboard boxes for the fifth time? Did you just defend your dissertation and now that you have extra letters behind your name realize that you have to find a two bedroom befitting a person of your education? Did you get laid off from your McJob and decided now is the time to pack your stuff in a Honda Element and drive across the country for new opportunities on an apple orchard/commune/womyn’s studies center? If so, this podcast is for YOU! Music by Jeff Caylor and doublePark.

Gaga for Gaga

May 13, 2010

Stay tuned for our upcoming treatise on Lady Gaga as a Quarterlife Hero. In the meantime, enjoy the internet sensation of sixth grade boy rocking Paparazzi. When we first watched this video yesterday, there were 200,000 views. Now there are over 8 million hits. Isn’t the internet amazing?

Getting Into the Real World Mentality

May 13, 2010

By Kristen Fischer, www.ramenrentresumes.com

The end of the semester is fast approaching for many college seniors. Even though you may be caught up in campus life, the professional world is just around the bend. Here are a few tips on how to get into a “real world” mentality to make the transition a tad bit easier.

Think about what you want to do. You have been studying a particular field for around four years, but that doesn’t mean you will—or will want to—automatically enter it. If you know that you want to pursue something else upon graduation, there is nothing wrong with not going into the field you studied. In fact, you’ll do better off knowing this from the get-go so you can build your career in another field. Regardless of what you want to do, learn about your options. Examine what you want your ideal day to be like. What kinds of jobs are available in your industry and in the region you want to work in?

It may sound silly but most new grads are on autopilot and, understandably, enter the working world taking whatever job they can get. But you want to build a career now that you have your degree; not just get a job. Put some thought into the direction you want to take.

Get crackin’ on a resume. I know it may seem daunting to work on something that doesn’t have a deadline—unlike turning in a final paper—but this document is equally as important. While you are on campus and have the resources, talk to the pros at your Career Services office and get tips for writing a resume, and feedback from people who know all about them.

Compiling a resume is often overwhelming for soon-to-be grads because they feel like there’s nothing to fill up an entire page, but if you really assess your skill set and look at the latest resume-writing trends, you can come up with a powerful resume that will get you the job.

Start looking for a job—yesterday. Again, you may be swamped with class work or you may be trying to relish your time as an undergrad, but nowadays, jobs are hard to come by. Add the fact that you’ll soon have to pay off loans and bills—and probably want to get your own pad at some point—and you will realize that you don’t want to be behind the eight ball. It is frustrating when your peers have great jobs lined up while they are still students. While that does not happen to everyone, many students are preparing to enter the professional world months before they graduate. Be proactive in your job search and start putting feelers out. You never know how long it will take to get a job and it’s smarter in the long run to get something fulfilling and profitable so you don’t have to take any old gig to get by. (Chances are, you went to college so you would not have to just “get by” anyway.)

Even thinking about what you want to do and where you want to live—and arranging for those things—is smart planning. Talk to your parents about the possibility of moving home or see if you can get a roommate if you want to be out on your own or plan to move far from home.

When summer starts and your classmates are at work and you are home on mom’s sofa, it may feel good for a while but it won’t be long before you will want to get out into the working world. Start your search now so you can make a timely transition.

Practice interviewing. If you aced your public speaking class and excel at debates, that doesn’t mean you will be a natural at an interview. Most of the time, the weight of landing your first job and the pressure of impending expenses can turn you into a frazzled mess when it comes time to sit down for a one-on-one. That kind of anxiety can take away every strategy you have mastered in the past. Start developing answers to common interview questions and practice a mock interview with a friend or a professional in the Career Services office. You can submit a stellar resume but the interview is what makes or breaks it. First impressions are huge in the real world.

Coming in to an office wide-eyed and bushy-tailed is common for recent grads, but you can get more comfortable with a professional environment by rehearsing answers and dressing up. Pay attention to things like how much you fidget—you may smell like an entry-level candidate to the interviewer but you don’t want to look like one, too!

Enjoy your last days in college. Even though it is beneficial to think about and prepare for the future, there is nothing like living in the now. Spend extra time with friends, sleep in, stay out late, hit up a crazy party, or enjoy campus activities. Even if you cannot wait to graduate, you will probably long to be a college student again at some point in the future—make the most of it now.

Kristen Fischer is the author of Ramen Noodles, Rent and Resumes: An After-College Guide to Life. For more tips on preparing for life after college and coping with 20-something issues, visit www.ramenrentresumes.com.

Robbing the Grave of Robin Hood

May 13, 2010

I loved the original 1937 flick. Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Claude
Rains…total utter classic. That IS Robin Hood. If they were going to ever
remake this movie it should have been in 1988 with the “Princess Bride”
actor, Cary Elwes. Minus Fred Savage of course. Speaking of Fred, did he
get a sex change? Because he looks just like that anchor chick on MSNBC.
Hmmm?

Anyhows…Call me old fashioned, a fan of old flicks, a classicist if you
must…but I like some things to stay the same. No remakes. No prequels. No
reboots. And definitely no rehashing the same old tired stories over and
over.

Robin Hood is just another cinematic abortion coming out of the Hollywood
whore factory. I know, tough words. Perhaps a little angry. Maybe even
uncalled for and at worst…a little frightening. I apologize. It’s the
Zoloft 100 mg withdrawal talking, not me.

But, still no excuses Hollywood. Enough is enough of the old stuff made
anew. Robin Hood even literally robs the grave with the out of the age
bracket actors of Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett. Not that they are
ancient and I love’em and their craft…but ummm…Robin and Maid Marion are
not supposed to be card carrying members of AARP.

Don’t get me wrong I totally get the re-teaming of Ridley Scott directing
the hell out of Mr. Crowe. “Gladiator“, exactly ten years ago, kicked
utter ass and changed the entertainment and Mediterranean tourism industry
forever. But, what that movie about the ancient past recovered for the
audiences’ viewing pleasure is remarkably lost in this attempt at the
Medieval.

It all seems to forced. Here…it’s “Gladiator” in tights. Love it or go see
Iron Man II again! Oh, and nominate us in February.

If historical cinema epics and history teach us anything, it is that no
one ever learns from their mistakes. The last attempt at retelling the
story of Robin and his Merry Men was the 1991 beginning of the end career
move with Kevin Costner. This was followed up with the “Men in Tights”
comical farce by Mel Brooks. If it takes a loser movie to be made fun of
with another loser movie…maybe it is about time we do indeed hang up the
tights on this classic tale.

I give it two Friar Tucks out of five.