“Facebook wants YOU to vote in tonight’s election!”
As election night draws on, I’m sitting on my laptop. I flick back and forth between MSNBC and CNN while refreshing RealClearPolitics every five minutes. I’m waiting for 11 pm, when Stewart and Colbert begin their hilarious annual coverage. In the meantime, I’m browsing Facebook, too. Hurrah for multitasking.
Facebook on election night is exactly what you’d imagine it to be. One out of every three statuses to reach my newsfeed is something about the election. Out of these election statuses, a considerable number of them can be filed into the category of smarmy, sarcastic mockery; statuses like “insert political opinion here” and “UGH, I’m tired of hearing about election crap on Facebook!”
Statuses of that variety are interesting to me, because it seems like every time something is trending on Facebook or Twitter, there’s someone out there who wants to make sure you know that they don’t care. This doesn’t just happen on election night; this happens before hurricanes, and when breaking news comes out, and even over the holidays. And, this begs the question: if someone really doesn’t give a damn about what Facebook is talking about, and is even annoyed about what they’re seeing on their Facebook newsfeeds, then why is that person still spending so much time hanging out on Facebook?
I’m thinking the internet, and Facebook, is like some kind of addictive substance. When I’m annoyed by something in real life, I have no problem keeping quiet and removing myself from the situation. But, that seems harder to do on Facebook, or anywhere online. That might be because the internet makes people courageous: when physical confrontation is taken out of the equation, it’s easy for anyone to suddenly become a loudmouth. It might also be because of the nature of Facebook and the internet itself. The internet is a place for clicking things, opening new taps and refreshing old ones. When I boot up Chrome, I automatically open up several tabs to accommodate my favorite sites. It’s automatic, formed gradually by habit.
Maybe it’s also because Facebook and other internet discussion mediums have become such a major arena of discussion in our personal lives. I vent on Facebook. I make plans on it, too. I know people who’ve began and ended their relationships using Facebook. I know lots of people who don’t know what’d they’d do if there was no Facebook. And, just about everyone I know is stuck on Facebook, for better or worse, despite concerns over their own internet habits and reservations about the company’s stance on user privacy. We just can’t remove ourselves from Facebook, and we can’t imagine a world where Facebook removes itself from us. We’re stuck with it.
Kinda like we’re stuck with the two party system…