The year is 2002. Mark Zuckerberg strolls the hallowed grounds of Harvard University wearing the standard issue uniform of a hopeful freshman: an oversized, wrinkled t-shirt and a self-conscious smile. Out of the corner of his eye, he notices a young woman. And what a woman she is. Her nerd-friendly charm is evident from her Zooey Deschanel inspired horn-rimmed glasses. Her body looks like one of those photos used to illustrate the evils of Photoshop. Is she really there, or is this a fantasy brought on by too many Big Bang Theory re-runs?
“Big Bang Theory doesn’t even exist yet.” Zuckerberg thinks to himself. “She must be real.”
The manic pixie dream babe saunters towards the timid ginger and hands him a book: Jane Eyre. She whispers in his ear in that sexy husky way hot women in movies do, “You should read this. Women love Victorian Literature.” Mark looks down at the bonnet wearing babe on the cover for the briefest of instants; he looks back up and his dream woman is gone. What Zuckerberg didn’t know is that this woman was a corporate spy, sent from the future by Google (Yes, they want Google+ to be a thing that badly). Zuckerberg goes on to become a professor of Victorian Literature at the University of Wisconsin; his book, The Ire of Eyre: Righteous Indignation in Victorian Literature is available from Viking Press. Facebook never comes to be.
Fast forward twelve years later. The year is 2014. Has America become some awful dystopian hellscape? No. Do people actually use Google+? Sorry, but still no. But, things do look far different from the world we know …
In a world without Facebook, there is nowhere to revel in the failures of jerks you kind of knew once.
People are depressed. Without Facebook the Internet is just a collection of videos and blog posts from people who are better than you being as better than you as they can be. You’ve always wanted to surf? Well, here’s a twelve year-old cancer survivor shredding in Maui. You want to run a marathon? This amputee orphan beat you to it. You’re thinking about cutting your own album? So did the members of Pussy Riot in between crushing boulders in a Siberian work camp. Facebook is the one place on the Internet where you can go to feel better about yourself. When you need a pick me up after a long day, you are one click away from the circus of human frailty that is your high school graduating class. In a world without Facebook, there is nowhere to revel in the failures of jerks you kind of knew once. Without Facebook schadenfreude, people desperately crowd into unemployment offices, trailer parks, and Wal-Marts hunting for someone to feel superior to. Not only is this a waste of time, but it just isn’t the same because you can’t see photos of those people lying shirtless in kiddie pools drinking Old Milwaukee on a Wednesday at the unemployment office.
People are oblivious. In a world without Facebook, no one has any idea that anyone disagrees with their worldview. With each passing day, the Internet carves out new niches for people to hide in. If you only want to talk to liberal, vegan Breaking Bad fans, you have two sub-Reddits to choose from. Only Facebook reminds us that there are people in the world with differing points of view. Every so often, we need a radical conservative gun nut or NCIS superfan to pop up in our mini-feed and remind us that there is a world outside of our carefully curated Twitter. This is what keeps us from becoming (even more) deluded and smug. In a world without Facebook, every election, every awards show, would be grounds for a full scale riot, as no one understands how someone could like a candidate, an actress, or a fast food combo other than the one championed by their favorite online community. If ever there was an award that Jennifer Lawrence didn't win, the streets would run red with blood.
Do you want to live in a world where the holidays don't involve meeting an old classmate at Ruby Tuesday for a Blue Moon followed by vigorous fucking in the parking lot? In a world without Facebook, people only have sex with their significant others or strangers they meet on OKCupid and Tinder.
People are horny. In a world without Facebook, no one visits their poor parents. What does this have to do with horniness? Easy there Freud. People don’t visit their hometowns to see their family; they visit their hometowns to see if they can hook up with people they couldn't hook up with in the past. Facebook messages are where casual hookups with past acquaintances start. Anyone who claims that they don’t scan their Facebook network for potential hook-ups whenever fate takes them to some random city on business is lying to you. In a world without Facebook, true love still blossoms, but what about those little flings with old high school chemistry partners that keep us going along the way? Do you want to live in a world where the holidays don't involve meeting an old classmate at Ruby Tuesday for a Blue Moon followed by vigorous fucking in the parking lot? In a world without Facebook, people only have sex with their significant others or strangers they meet on OKCupid and Tinder.
The World wouldn’t be a terrible place without Facebook. You’ve still got the rest of the Internet. Twitter is there to give you breaking news from every corner of the world. The blogosphere still furnishes us with a thinkpiece on every event with even an ounce of cultural significance.
But, a world without Facebook would be a world where we have to actually leave behind the things we choose to leave behind. That idiot from high school who got arrested for throwing a deer carcass in their ex's swimming pool? They're on Facebook. Your crazy neighbor who believes that Obama is an alien seeking to eliminate the country’s guns in hopes of setting the stage for a massive anal probe campaign? They're on Facebook. That prom date who still waits tables at Applebee’s who you think about every so often and consider how things might have been if you’d stayed around and become a high school English teacher? They’re on Facebook too. In a world without Facebook, these people would be mere memories, as accessible as the little league games and frat houses you left them in. You wouldn’t see their beach selfies, their drunken nights out, their philosophies as expressed through Taylor Swift lyrics.
Go ahead and claim that you would be fine living in a world where you leave these people behind for good, but a look at your recent activity tells a different story.