Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Turn and Face the Strain

Okay, you fans of Facebook, I shall put this in language you might recognize. My drag-queen name is I Hate Facebook. My top five favorite movies are I Hate Facebook. The last ten books I read were I Hate Facebook. The Brady child I would be is Marcia, HATING FACEBOOK.

I wanted to participate, I truly did. The twenty-first century wasn’t going to move on without me. I spent a few months dabbling in discovering that friends of friends of mine were eager for me to see their Equity-waiver plays and waiting for the plumber to arrive and I said something like “Eh.” And I thought I had closed the account, but it turns out that when you think you’re closing the account you’re only sending it into suspended animation.

So when a year later my editor and agent suggested Facebook for networking and helping to sell my book, I opened up Facebook and thought I’d start a new account but look! There is my old account, looking fresh and rested after a year of being ignored. And there are friends of friends, who are now waiting for electricians to arrive. I started again, and I got poked and tickled and I heard from people who like the blog and people with whom I went to grade school and every once in a while I got an e-mandala or a petition to sign. I didn’t quite see the point to most of this activity but I gave it the benefit of the doubt. Somehow, this would help me sell books by being available to readers.

Then, two months ago, something weird started happening. I’d get a friend request email and when I went to click on it, there wouldn’t be an actual friend request on the Facebook page. Sometimes it was people I knew; sometimes it was people who had figured out that Quinn Cummings was probably Quinn Cummings and just wanted to make contact with me. Friends, classmates, strangers; all were ghosts in the machine. I thought, “Ah! Facebook will be able to explain that!” because I was young and stupid.

This was when I learned that Facebook wants all of us to communicate with the whole wide world, but not them. There was no FAQ for this little problem. There is no contact number for Facebook problems. Facebook claims to be based in Palo Alto, yet when you call information, they are unlisted. In the meanwhile, I was getting plaintive friend requests like, “I’m sure you’re not interested in making friends with your readers, but your book made me so happy and I just wanted to let you know that. But I’m just bothering you, I guess.” No, reader, YOU aren’t bothering me. Facebook is bothering me very much. And Facebook couldn’t care less if I had sent them an e-cupcake.

I left a note on Facebook to the effect of “I hate Facebook very much because they are eating friends and business contacts.” Many people tried to help. Emails flew back and forth like this:

HELPER: Oh, you just need to click on the “Receive” button [It wasn’t receive, but it was something like that.]

QUINN: I don’t have a “Receive” button.

H: Sure you do. It’s under the “Decorate Cupcake” button and above the “Alphabetize Your Favorite Taylor Swift Songs” and “Create Timesucking Quiz” button.

Q: Got “Cupcake,” which is right on top of “Taylor Swift.” Between there’s nothing.

H: Oh. You might be screwed.

Yeah, that sounded about right. Time to kill me in Facebook land, if for no other reason than I needed to stop appearing to ignore people. I did some research and found out how to kill your page in Facebook. It’s crazy-hard, almost dissertation-in-Theology hard, and nearly as contingent on faith, but I did everything. I finally reached the last thing I had to click, which said something like “ARE YOU REALLY REALLY SURE YOU WANT TO LEAVE (LISTED EVERY SINGLE FRIEND THEY HAD DEIGNED TO LET ME HAVE)?” I smiled as I clicked “Yes.”

And then another page came up.

“Well, okay. As long as there is no activity on your page for two weeks, we’ll close your account. If there’s any activity, we’ll assume you want to keep your account open.”

I heard a sullen tone but I didn’t care. Facebook could go off and quiz itself over who was the hotter Darrin on “Bewitched,” and I could rest confident knowing in two weeks my nightmare would be over. I’d go back to unintentionally insulting people in my usual ways and leave Facebook out of it.

But oh, didn’t the book of faces have the last laugh. Because while I didn’t touch Facebook, people continued to try to friend me, and every time they tried to friend me, it reset the two-week clock. I will never be free of these fools. I can’t even get on my account and leave some message to be read by all comers about how it’s not them, it’s me and how much I hate Facebook and why not? Because my account information no longer works.

So if you’ve sent me a friend request and have been rewarded with silence, please know that silence is filled with pain and frustration and futility. And daytime drinking.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, man. That's utterly Ri.Donk.U.Lous!

I do loathe companies that make it impossible for clients to communicate directly!

1:28 PM  
Anonymous Amy G. said...

Oh, great. I've built a massive Facebook following around my supposition that you hated me. Now I'll have to come up with something else! ;) I hate it, too, but it's been fun to catch up with people on there. Eventually I'll get over it.

2:23 PM  
Blogger bethany actually said...

I kind of hate facebook too, but several of my actual friends insist on using it to communicate, and I like those friends, so I suck it up and check in now and then. But I'm not a former child actor or inventor or author, so I don't have quite the same challenges you do. Sorry to hear it's been such an annoyance for you! Maybe this post will get someone's attention at Facebook and they'll help you.

2:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am sorry for you, but happy because the same thing happened to
me several months ago,I thought they just hated me, now I know they
are terminaly screwed up.

I assume that at some point everybody will realise this, and quit...

Onward to twitter...

2:55 PM  
Blogger Judy said...


Facebook is that annoying little sister I never had.

But, now I do.

Being the little sister, she will out-live me, no doubt.

3:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Oh That Facebook...The one that my family urged me to join.I really don't get the whole attraction. I mean really? And learning that my nephew "became a fan" of morning sex was just a little bit TMI.
So like Alanis sings, I there..but I'm really gone...

Peace - Rene

3:07 PM  
Blogger Char said...

I wonder if networking on facebook really works anyway - we've all so grown accustomed to ignoring pokes, prods and farmville requests. I'm just sayin'. Now pass me some lime for my vodka tonic.

4:15 PM  
Anonymous FurBabyMom said...

To what has seemed to me to be everyone else's incredulousness, I have never had the slightest desire to be on Facebook. After a detailed explanation of it from a friend, my thought was "Gee, that sounds annoying!" and my earlier feelings were confirmed. I have been asked countless times by friends and near-strangers alike if I'm on Facebook so they could "friend me," and they get this surprised and vaguely annoyed look when I reply that "I don't do Facebook." I almost feel as though I then need to apologize and explain my reasons for not participating (but I don't). It's nice to know someone else finds it annoying and unnecessary, though I am sorry to hear you can't seem to escape its imprisonment.

Just had a thought...maybe you can solicit Bill Clinton's help to free you - he worked wonders last week for Laura Ling and Euna Lee! ;-)


4:43 PM  
Blogger Sara J. Henry said...

Here's a functioning email address (at least it was a month or so ago) to Facebook help.

5:02 PM  
Blogger Dawn Maria said...

I figured that at some point I'd have to join Facebook and Twitter to help promote my eventual book (still working on that pesky get-an-agent part).

I decided to start with Twitter and I'm glad I did. I enjoy it. I follow writing industry news, favorite authors and Tweet links to my blog. But mostly I screw around with people from my online sci-fi community.

I don't really see the point of Facebook right now. Plus we're all linked to death. It's not too difficult to find anyone these days. So I'll wait on the Facebook, for as I can.

6:57 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

I find Facebook is ideal for people like myself who are not fulfilled unless they've embarassed themselves publicly at least once a day. The FB experience could be filed under the Old Dogs, New Tricks category; it simply isn't intuitive for folks who still consider stationery and postage stamps useful tools.

8:27 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

I find Facebook is ideal for people like myself who are not fulfilled unless they've embarassed themselves publicly at least once a day. The FB experience could be filed under the Old Dogs, New Tricks category; it simply isn't intuitive for folks who still consider stationery and postage stamps useful tools.

8:29 PM  
Blogger Robin Raven said...

Yeah, Facebook does something that is super annoying to me. It constantly suggests people that it knows I knew at some point in my childhood, and it inevitably recommends bullies who mocked me in childhood. haha I guess maybe they're somehow friends of friends? I'm still on the FB bandwagon, but I hope you're able to close your account. :-)

By the way, thanks for responding to me on Twitter. I'd have responded to your response, but I figured I'd just start getting obnoxious at that point. I've recommended several people to your blog and book who've immensely enjoyed it. :)

8:40 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Completely understand the annoyingness of all the apps, and the lots of being found when you have an unusual name with some bloogerly aura. But for those of us with super-common names, its been a bit of a revelation to be found by and to find some old friends I was quite nostalgic about.

For that alone, I will stick with it.

11:48 PM  
Anonymous KDA said...

You've given me another reason to not join Facebook. I just don't understand the appeal. I mean, if I want to be in contact with you, I mostly like already am. I don't need Facebook to do it. One of my friends keeps bugging me to join so that we can "friend" each other. I don't get it. Aren't we already friends? Aren't we having this discussion face-to-face over a lovely latte? Why would I want to do it in front of a computer screen? It's bad enough that I'm not much of a phone talker. Now I'll be someone who's not good at keeping up on Facebook. No thanks. I don't know--it just seems more trouble than it's worth.

By-the-by, I love your book and blog. I just finished the book and instead of reading the entire contents out loud to my husband, I'm making him read it too. I just wish you had included something about your fondness for plagues and natural disasters. I hate for him to think I'm the only one who, upon seeing that a documentary on the Black Plague is coming on tv, says, "Oh, that's a good one."

7:31 AM  
Blogger sherry stanfa-stanley said...

I joined FB this year both to help with a class reunion and to build readership. Nice for reconnecting, once you find any real notes from friends. But you're forced to spend hours scrolling through posts about their virtual games, virtual gifts and virtual self-quizzes. It's virtually tiresome.

8:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is it that people who spend hours doing nothing on Facebook get annoyed when I say, "just call me?"

11:56 AM  
Blogger Delightfully Healthy said...

Once again, it's so nice to know I'm not alone! I am not now, nor do I ever plan to be, on Facebook. There, I said it. Phew!

1:04 PM  
Anonymous Tricia said...

I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who hates FB. I tried, but something happened. I can receive friends. I can take, take, take, but I can never give, let alone acknowledge.

I know the error is me. But it has to be super user-friendly--like it has to do everything for me--before I can master it.

3:59 PM  
Blogger Miss Cavendish said...

I saw the (exterior of the) Facebook office when I was in Palo Alto a couple of summers back. Although I have a FB account, I don't write things on it. I much prefer my blog and twitter!

6:38 PM  
Blogger surrealised said...

Hi Quinn,

In today's Bangkok newspaper, 'The Nation', it lists you as having your birthday today.

Happy Birthday!!
Hope that you have a great day.

9:09 PM  
Blogger Sassy Sissy said...

I understand how harsh feelings against facebook can develop. I happen to be a fan of facebook, but then again, I am a simpleton. To solve your problem, couldn't you just create a new email and ignore all the old email messages that come from facebook and just let those fb emails go off into cyberspace "no mans land"? Carry on, loved your book!

9:35 PM  
Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann said...

Clearly they have their own agenda and it's not helping us all to just get along.

A computer geek friend of mine made my facebook account undercover for a while - so it didn't come up on google or in face book, but if you were in as my friend then you were in. It turns out to be straight forward to do that, even though they don't make it the default, and probably don't want you to know about it. Eventually I missed getting friended and opened it up again.

2:15 AM  
Blogger josie123 said...

I have the same problem!! I started up my own facebook account and added you as a friend. This was all going fine for a few weeks until suddenly my account got deleted without a reason! I now can't make a new account because apparently, my email address is still being used!

1:50 PM  
Blogger Spy Scribbler said...

I love Facebook! True, I get to keep in touch with friends who I'd never have time to stay in touch with otherwise, but there's FARM TOWN. And FARMVILLE. I must go every day and tend my farms.

Yeah, it's sort of pitiful. I have no defense.

4:06 PM  
Anonymous Judy said...

Hi Quinn --

I can totally relate to your frustrations with Facebook, but I will forever defend it due to a horrendous family crisis that I discovered while reading FB.

The fun-loving side of me completely agrees with everything you said, but the family me, the adult me, are both SCREAMING in defense of Facebook. And this is why

Had such a horrific event happened in my life, an event which was instantly sent to 67 family members thanks to a post on FB, I would thoroughly agree with you.

But since such an event DID happen to my family, the humorous side of me still agrees 100% with your comment. However, thre's another side of me that DISAGREES 100%...from a thoroughly non-celebrit point of view.

There IS something to be said about this technological age....

8:17 PM  
Blogger SusannahS said...

I have to admit to a love-hate relationship with FB--I love the fact that I've reconnected with the exchange student who sat behind in French class during my sophomore year in high school...but I hate that the sorority sister whom I couldn't stand even after 6 drinks in college can read every little item I post(because it would have been rude to not accept her friend request, right? Oh, the pressure. Not that I post a lot in my status thingie anyway)
I have to admit that I love Twitter. In fact, one day I tweeted about using a red sharpie to cover the chips in my nail polish before a meeting and quinncy @'ed me! I 'squee'ed(a la @wilw) and then my head exploded (a la @dooce) and my poor assistant had to cancel all my meetings because for that one moment, I felt cool. (Don't worry-that's mild compared to what happened when I actually met Lisa Whelchel at a book signing).
Technology--bringing the world closer on friend @ a time!

9:55 AM  
Blogger Kathryn said...

I am another not-a-Facebook person. I have enough trouble with trying to post pictures on my Blogger page. Neither do I Twitter, because I am not fascinating, and a lot of times I'd just rather read or sew or paint.

2:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Quinn, I loved your book and when I discovered your blog I read all the archives and loved them, too. Your writing is laugh out loud funny and also very insightful. Don't stop writing!

A New Fan

6:29 AM  
Blogger Vodka Mom said...

I had a sinking suspicion you might need a drink.

I'll make it a double.

2:26 PM  
Blogger MommyTime said...

That's awful. Facebook is the devil's spawn. I have a friend whose account was hacked, and the person started sending private messages to all my friend's friends saying she'd been kidnapped and needed $900. One of her friends actually wired the money before the whole scam came to my friend's attention -- but thankfully Western Union was suspicious about the transaction and put a hold on it. Despite this terrible breach, my friend has been completely unable to get hold of anyone at Facebook -- and she can't even try to get her page down because the person has changed all her passwords and blocked her out of her own page. Nice.

I'm thinking of starting a warning post on my blog about the potential dangers -- or at least massive annoyances -- of a site that has NO customer service or accountability contacts. I'll let you know if anyone at Facebook notices...

7:51 PM  
Blogger Dee at Pedestrian Palate said...

Hate Facebook with the blinding fire of a thousand suns (or something equally dramatic). I have come to accept that I am simply the wrong demographic for facebook and have taken my defeat in stride. Unlike you though, I kept my profile out there for nobody to find and it's working out quite nicely. Sadly, I have given in to Twitter though and am considering a 12 step program to get off it. When a friend tweeted me that they were getting an oil change, I knew that no good could come of it.

3:57 AM  
Anonymous Carolyn Campbell said...


I have a love/hate relationship with FB myself, but I sure do understand your frustration. Once I set all those games at "hide" and I stopped hearing every move made in Vampire Wars, Mafia Wars, and Farmville, things got happier for me.

I just finished reading your book tonight, and want to thank you for two days of happy reading. Very nice to see you're having a good life. Hope another book is forthcoming.

8:49 PM  
Blogger 3 Peanuts said...

This is SO funny because I have a FB post in my drafts (different complaints/observations). I simple do not get it. So many people are popping up that I have no bloody idea who they are? You are definitely more of a blog kinda gal:)

7:16 AM  
Blogger Chatty said...

Gosh - I wish I had checked your blog before I asked you to be a "friend" of FB - but, although I saw your "fan" sight (and no, it doesn't sound snotty when you actually HAVE fans!)I just have to admit that I hate the word "fan" - it brings to mind lonely, sad people who still have "autograph books" and hang out at movie premiers, hoping for a glance of their favorite movie stars instead of getting an actual life...
But, since I DIDN'T check first, I was irrationally pleased that you "accepted" me as a friend.
Don't worry, Quinn - I won't be bothering you with posts about what I ate for breakfast, or that I just tried to give my cat a bath and BOY, did I get wet...; )

8:01 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home