In Postmodernism or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, Fredric Jameson posits that postmodern people are self-referential; that is, they are people who love making all phenomena about them. Although I very much love Facebook, I am troubled by a phenomenon that is increasingly developing on Facebook: the deactivation of accounts to gain attention that one is “leaving” Facebook—only to shortly “return.” Since you need attention so bad, you will think that this article is all about you. Okay, just to mollify your need for attention, I am going to go ahead and admit that this article is all about you. If you would focus on the substantive, then you might actually gain the attention you desire.
I’m getting tremendously tired of hearing people say that they are deactivating their Facebook accounts because they are not disciplined enough to stay off of Facebook long enough to get their work done. The reality is these people know that people will be wondering why they are off Facebook and this will draw attention to them, especially when they become active on Facebook again. In fact, I have actually seen people announcing “countdowns” to the day that they are going to deactivate their accounts. I can just anticipate the responses to this article now: (1) Why are you so worried about this?; (2) Antonio, are you trying to throw hints at me?; (3) Do you have anything else better to do?, (4) How are you trying to call someone self-referential when you have your own blog?; and (5) Have you run out of stuff to write about? These responses and more are only distractions to keep people from addressing a serious problem: the need to stop trying to gain attention at any cost.
Facebook does not have to consume so much of your time that you need to deactivate your account. If you don’t have enough control and discipline when on Facebook, then just close your account for good. If you are a college student, especially a graduate or professional student, and cannot control and manage your time wisely, then you may not even need a Facebook account in the first place. I have found Facebook to provide me with a nice break from the intensity of my academic work and some of the stress of life. My time spent on Facebook has not hindered my ability to be an effective academic in any way. What’s on Facebook that can cause you to consume too much of your time anyway? Revolutionary Paideia is here to suggest that only a vain person would make a significant event or advertisement out of the deactivation of his or her Facebook account.
I simply would like us to become more substantive people. You do not need to announce that you are deactivating your Facebook account—simply stay off of Facebook during times when you know that you are going to be really busy. For those of you who are in college, especially graduate and professional school, we all know that you are in graduate or professional school and you do not need to remind us. We are not going to give you any added praise just because you are in graduate or professional school—like we did not already know you were in graduate or professional school. Please consider how contradictory you can seem when you say that you are so busy, but people can see that you update your statuses every 30 minutes, stay on Facebook chat, and comment constantly on people’s walls. Revolutionary Paideia is simply asking you to check yourself!
Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison