Live Active Cultures

Hell has officially frozen over: Seth is on Facebook

Were you driving down the street last week when a swarm of locusts pushed you off the road? Did the moon unexpectedly turn to blood during your evening stroll, or has a Magnolia-esque frog infestation forced you out of your backyard swimming pool? Sorry, my bad. If you happened to be inconvenienced by a minor apocalypse lately, I'm likely to blame. Because after years of dogged, determined, desperate denial, I finally quelled my resistance and dove into enemy territory. Repent, for the end is nigh: I'm finally on Facebook.

Readers who have followed this column for a few years have been amused (or at least annoyed and bored) by my intermittent outbursts against the social media monolith, which I've watched grow from an upstart MySpace alternative to the dominant form of communication among the under-30 demographic. More than once in this space, I've tried to justify my refusal to join the ravaging zombie horde who have turned "likes" into the online equivalent of brains. I even had a ready supply of semi-clever quips rationalizing my neo-Luddism, such as, "I don't have time for a new social media relationship because I'm having a fling with Twitter," and, "I couldn't stay friends with my Friends if I saw the things that they post on their Walls."

But over the past six months or so my carefully cultivated contrarianism has become increasingly inconvenient. Over and over, I would hear about local arts events after the fact because they had only been advertised on Facebook, or fumble in researching some performer whose online information is inaccessible to those without a Facebook login. Email once seemed a sufficient scheduling tool, but lately I've been left off meeting invite lists because it's soooo inconvenient to open Outlook. You can have a Gmail account, a YouTube channel and a FaceTime number, but if you don't own real estate in Zuckerberg's burg, you might as well not exist anymore.

I held out as long as I could, but after everyone from my editor to my wife encouraged me to get over my damn self and sign up, I began to waver. (If Gov. Scott can have a change of heart about expanding Medicaid, I can flip-flop on Facebook.)
In the end, I blame my surrender on the drugs. Stuck in bed with a bad cold contracted on the red-eye home from California, a NyQuil haze clouded my feverish brain and forced my capitulation. You may find these highlights from my first three hours as a Facebook user instructive, or at least familiar:

Download the Facebook iPad and iPhone apps and establish my fledgling page. Maybe this won't be so bad …
Holy crap, my inbox is completely flooded with Facebook notifications! Desperately dig through the settings page to defuse the letterbombing.
Post my first cat photo. It gets more comments than my last three Orlando Weekly articles combined.
D'oh! Sold my virtual soul by "liking" Wawa's sandwiches. Mmm, forbidden Shorti …
Discover that several of my otherwise-sane friends apparently enjoy spreading paranoid conspiracy propaganda. Happy happy, joy joy.
Receive my first invitation to "like" a local arts organization I admire.
Receive my first invitation to "like" a local arts organization I'm ambivalent about.
Receive my first invitation to "like" a local arts organization I loathe.
Hit 164 "friends," which is 100 more than I have in the real world. At this rate I'll have 1,000,000 friends in just 254 days. Do I have to buy them all Christmas presents?
Read mature, thoughtful posts from members of the arts community that make me proud to live in Orlando.
Read whiny, pretentious "vaguebook" posts from members of the arts community that make me embarrassed to live in Orlando.
Look at more cat photos. Breathe deeply.
Receive first friend request from someone in Istanbul. Sorry, if we haven't met in person at least once, I ain't accepting. [Editor's note: You'll crack soon enough. We all do.]
Obsessively refreshing my timeline like a crack-addicted lab monkey. My degradation is complete. More NyQuil, please!