I've finally done it, I feel liberated; I've permanently deleted my Facebook account.
It sounds ridiculous, but the damn thing depressed me. Once upon a time, it had been the Greatest Site in the World, a place to gather everyone I'd ever met (and those I hadn't) in one convenient place, and detailing my every fucking movement; (Fweng has finished work. Fweng is off to the pub. Fweng is trying to cope with a hangover).
In those heady early days, I wanted it to be mandatory for everyone to have their own Facebook account. It was great having a one-stop site to see everyone and catch up without actually going anywhere but slowly, imperceptibly at first, I began to loathe the place.
At first, all I really wanted was to reach 100 friends; proof that an average thirty-something male with his own hair could reach triple social figures and, pathetically, be 'popular'. I told as many people about it as I could - including my sister, and my Mum and Dad, then added them. They're not friends; they're lumbered with me forever. Friendship doesn't come into it. We're the closest of close relatives already (not that I actually see or talk to them, however.)
Finding and adding old schoolfriends was impossible to resist - until the whole thing felt a bit stalky and generally left well alone, apart from one guy, an old schoolfriend who I had fond memories of.
I contacted him through a Facebook email at first, a cheerful message of greeting. His reply was a little odd;
"Where are you now? What are you doing? Are you married?"
That was it. 'Hello' wouldn't have gone amiss.
Nonetheless, I answered his specific questions. He responded, 6% more warmly than before. We 'added' each other. I then saw his friends, 200 of them. Oh, okay. Hey look, there's about twenty lads from school here. Well I'm not going to contact them, as they used to - what's the word? - fucking hate me.
'Hey!' I thought, 'that's great! All these old guys from school are still in touch with each other.'
'Oh!' I noted, 'Even the guys from different groups who weren't friends back then all seem to be friends now. That's so nice.'
'Wow!' I exclaimed. 'A lot of them are married. Cool. And the ones that aren't are in relationships. That's just brilliant.'
'Hey, look!! There's a bunch of photos from their trip to Marbella when they were 16! That's odd, we were all friends then. I don't recall being invit-WHAT THE FUCK???
It didn't take me very long to feel sick to the very pit of my stomach. Here were the guys from my old school - wankers, to be blunt - all friends with each other, all getting on with their fabulous lives together with their fabulous wives or cute girlfriends. I had been the jolly fat kid at school - one who got spat at and shunned - those guys! - and, two decades later, Facebook reintroduced me to them. I was content with my life (just), until I was being reminded of their continued existence.
Never mind, time heals all wounds, people change, et cetera, et cetera.
"Don't write to me here," my old friend replied in a message. "Contact me at work - it's blah blah blah @ blah.com"
So I did, a friendly catch-up email detailing what I was up to (nothing), where I'd been (nowhere), and who I was dating (no-one). Naturally, I ended by asking him how life was treating him.
That was about nine months ago, and I'm still waiting for a reply. If I was being honest, and I tend to on this blog, it irked me with a burning vibrancy - There. I've admitted it. I was only saying hello to one of the few blokes I got on with, yet eighteen years had passed and I was being shunned again - this time, without the spit (although I'm sure if spittle was included in those little Facebook gifts, they'd cover me in it.) Dammit, this was a bloody one-off hello, not an attempt to crowbar my way into their pointless fucking world!
I'm too old to get wound up by this trivial shit.
I spotted another guy there, another member of these Facebook guys I went to school with and liked, and contacted him too. He was friendlier than Richard - he emailed to say he remembered the cartoons I used to draw (even I forgot that) - and we exchanged another email. He too didn't bother replying when I asked him how he was either, but by then I was actually amused; I expected it. Clearly these guys are fucking petrified that I'm lonely and mad and desperate for human contact, rather like this chap...
There were other irks. In the right light, at the right angle, with the moon waxing and Saturn aligned with Venus, I might, after 5,000,000 pictures, look fairly non-repellent in a photo. Despite this, my real-life friends tagged pictures of me relentlessly; ones of me with three chins, ones of me looking bewildered and confused, ones of me looking like a corpse with its eyes open. One little tinker even tagged a photo of me for all to see; I was licking a TV screen that had prominently displayed, pornography.
And these photos kept coming.
But the final straw came last week when I discovered my lovely American ex-girlfriend had joined. We exchanged Facebook messages, which was pleasant, and I had a cursory glance at her friends. The only other Limey she knew had been her boyfriend immediately after me. She admitted long ago that after we'd split up, she rebounded onto an Englishman living in New York.
When I looked at his friends, I saw a couple of twats I went to school with.
The Jewish community is very close.
Except with me. I repel Jews. And Hindus. And Muslims, Jains, Christians, the irreligious, and even the desperate.
And don't get me started on women in general.
I simply had to leave Facebook. I was beginning to see little point in belonging to a site full of people who'd rather I wasn't there... people such as my lovely American ex-girlfriend.
In taking your collective advice from my comments box (my life is beginning to resemble the Truman Show), I decided to tell her how I feel about her. I didn't launch into it at first. I began by sending her a solitary email to say that I've left Facebook for good and we should keep in touch this way. I also added that I was planning a trip to the States (I'm not), and it would be nice to meet up for a coffee.
She hasn't replied.