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Took a Facebook Break for Two Weeks; When I Came Back, I Had a Panic Attack

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by Jake Anderson

Yesterday, I logged into Facebook for the first time in two weeks… and had a panic attack within about 15 seconds. I’ll tell you why — and why I’m writing an article about it — but first, a bit of context. Two weeks ago I was lured into a heated debate with two FB acquaintances over the timeless “lesser of two evils” concept. Subsequently, I decided it would be better for my health to stay off Facebook until after the 2016 presidential election.

I’d wanted to take a break from social media for a while anyway because I waste a tremendous amount of time responding to negativity and trolling. I also felt fatigued by people picking apart small nuances of posts — even apolitical and non-confrontational ones. I wasn’t the only one feeling the burn. As journalist Claire Bernish remarked, “I could post a picture of a baby bunny and someone would take offense.”

Here’s a quick example of how absurd it has gotten for me. A little while back I posted a gif of an abstract painting in which a figure was stretching and mutating. It was neat. It looked like a representation of someone losing their mind. I captioned the post with the question, “Ever feel like you’re swimming in molasses?”

A commenter responded, “After a newlywed in Michigan just died last week in a molasses tank a few days b/f his newborn baby arrived, I feel this is in poor taste.”

I thought it was a joke, but I looked it up and, sure enough, that absurdly horrific tragedy had actually occurred. I just happened to have randomly thought about swimming in molasses around the same time. The synchronicity of evil rears its ugly head again. Simply unbelievable.

To connect this random episode with the “lesser of two evils” paradigm (or bullshit, as I like to call it), Clinton supporters have developed an almost fascistic attitude toward leftists who vote third-party. To put it politely, Clintonians are frustrating to debate. Here’s a sample argument… ‘TRUMP propagates hateful speech and fear mongering! You’re not voting for Hillary?! You’re an ignorant fool, he’ll eat my children!

In the context of 2016, one anonymous meme I saw summed it up rather neatly:

“If you’re not willing to contest election fraud you have no place commenting on how I intend to cast my vote. Either voting matters or it doesn’t. You can’t have it both ways.”

Anyway, back to my panic attack. I made my declaration that Facebook was bad for my health and that I was leaving until after the election. Less than one day later, I broke my vow. I felt compelled to post that I do not live in a swing state and so people inclined to verbally abuse me for not voting for Hillary might consider redirecting their energy towards canvassing voters in one of the 11 critical battleground states.

Then I made my real exodus and spent a couple weeks in unmediated bliss. Sure, I browsed the web, but without the barrage of posts and feverishly intense opinions trickling into my brain, I felt more focused. However, yesterday I needed to log back into the Demonbook to correspond with the Anti-Media Editorial Department. I closed my eyes as the homepage loaded and, squinting — almost as one would do during a tooth-pulling scene in a Saw movie — attempted to look only at the search bar as I typed “Anti-Media,” hoping to bypass the newsfeed.

I failed. Before long I was besieged by posts from mainstream media pages and cantankerous, neo-liberal friends. Here are the narratives that precipitated my panic attack:

Take a break from Facebook join like minded people at

1. Hillary Clinton is so hawkish that top Republicans prefer her over Trump.

That Clinton is staunchly neoconservative on foreign policy issues is no bold claim. Her hawkish policies of military force against Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, and Syria, along with her neoliberal regime change policies in Honduras, Brazil, and the Ukraine are well-documented. This week, 50 GOP national security experts published an open letter declaring Trump was not safe and that they wouldn’t vote for him.

They are right, of course, but don’t confuse the motivation here. Republicans would rather have Hillary because she will continue the Project for a New American Century’s goal of perpetual war in the Middle East, which was born during George W. Bush’s presidency, went through puberty under Barack Obama, and will become a full-grown man when Hillary Clinton takes office (yes, there will likely be wars in Iran and Syria). On at least a few different occasions, Trump has expressed a desire to end U.S. military interventionism in the Middle East (he’d rather spend the money on building an imperial, white nationalist Great Wall of China). While it’s doubtful he would do either, the coffers of the military-industrial complex don’t take chances when it comes to something as important as the eternal flow of blood money.

Phase One: Cold sweat, jittery, eyes started darting around a little erratically

2. Trump is making history, too. He’s the first rodeo clown to run for president.

Without indulging too much in an unproven conspiracy theory, I’ll just say the plot of this election has felt very … scripted. Is Trump running a false flag campaign to ensure neocon/neolib Hillary takes over the reins of the war machine? I don’t know. Probably, but it doesn’t matter. Even if such information were disclosed to the American public, Clinton supporters would be happy and Trump supporters would still support Trump. The majority would be irked at learning our country’s elections are manufactured pageants, but it wouldn’t be a deal-breaker. “Meh, when’s the game start?” would be a common reaction. Or, “Will this disrupt my access to Pokémon Go?” More ‘savvy’ media figures and journalists might be momentarily confused, but then they’d take a seat in the break room and wait patiently for the State Department to email them talking points.

I don’t know if Trump is a plant, of course, but I do know he’s a national distraction who is helping the pro-war left grow stronger — via their support for Clinton — while emboldening the Democratic Party’s rich elites. More and more, the conflation of the two parties can be seen as a manifestation of the national security state. Since 9/11, we’ve seen a monster grow, a hybrid of national security and law enforcement that works symbiotically with Wall Street, surveillance courts, and the Department of the Treasury.

With a few social issues (some of them very important) as exceptions, the two parties protect the interests of this ‘deep state’ first and foremost.

Trump is an early Christmas gift for the political elites. For an entire election cycle, they can point at a man who says terrible things and say “Can you believe he said that?” And while you’re screaming “Oh my God!” an echo chamber of his terrible, clownish words has blanketed every major news media outlet, drawing attention away from issues like the TPP, civilian bombings in Libya and Yemen, and countless other abuses of the state. Trump wants to do bad things; Clinton’s already done them. She knows the system and works across the aisle. She’s a ‘progressive who likes to get things done’…and those ‘things’ are war crimes.

Phase two: A panicky feeling and inability to sit still; it feels like I’ve been possessed by Andy Dick.

3. Pokémon Go claims its first life…along with vast troves of private consumer data.

There had already been a feeling that Pokémon Go was taking over the world — that the viral augmented reality (AR) phenomenon was turning a legion of young people into grinning, inattentive zombies (pretty similar to before the game, actually). First, we heard reports of car crashes that resulted from people playing Pokemon Go; then it was property damage; then a fist fight; and now, finally, a tragic murder. We don’t yet know the motive in the San Francisco murder of 20-year-old Calvin Riley, but the fact remains that the game has blood on its hands.

While Pokémon Go can’t be held accountable for the murder, it can be held accountable for introducing to the world the most efficient and nefarious data mining tool of the 21st century. As reported by The Intercept, the company that created the game, Niantic, is owned by John Hanke, the man who ran Google’s most controversial — and illegal — dragnet data collection, violating the privacy of millions (basically, it turned out Google Street View was collecting Wi-Fi information as it mapped the world, violating the U.S. Wiretap Act). The engineer of this project is now in charge of Pokémon Go, which has 9.5 million active daily users.

The Niantic privacy policy states the app will share user information with third parties “for research and analysis, demographic profiling, and other similar purposes.” This isn’t unusual in today’s tech environment but bear in mind the person in control of this data has already been caught in a massive privacy violation. While there are plenty of unlikely conspiracy theories out there about the game, one truth we do know is that early in the release, the app was monitoring users’ entire Google accounts. It has since revoked that functionality.

However, Activist Post highlights what they believe are dangerous passages that remain in the privacy policy (emphasis added by Activist Post):

“Log Data may include information such as a User’s Internet Protocol (IP) address, user agent, browser type, operating system, the web page that a User was visiting before accessing our Services, the pages or features of our Services to which a User browsed and the time spent on those pages or features, search terms, the links on our Services that a User clicked on, and other statistics.

“We may use a person’s Log Data and other information to generate aggregate, non-identifying information about how our Services are used and use such aggregated information to understand and improve our Services and to administer use of the Services.

“We may disclose any information about you (or your authorized child) that is in our possession or control to government or law enforcement officials or private parties.

“We’re not responsible for the content, privacy, or security practices and policies of any Third Party Service. To protect your (or your authorized child’s) information we recommend that you carefully review the privacy policies of all Third Party Service that you (or your authorized child) access via our Services. [emphasis added]

The larger issue here is that we are being drawn into a future in which it is quite possible that companies — and possibly the government — will be able to track citizens’ everyday movements in real-time. Pokémon Go is just the beginning. Analysts predict this could be the dawn of an augmented reality revolution. Pokémon Go is mainly just for kids, but soon apps will be developed for all demographics. The real world is about to be replaced by a gridded, corporate artifice that is not relegated to the physical addresses of the companies involved — brands will follow along with you as you curate your augmented environments.

Phase 3: I need to lay down, feel completely incapacitated, hyperventilating – in need of a benzo.


In retrospect, I think my panic attack was actually social media withdrawal. New studies have confirmed that use of the medium can constitute addictive behavior. After two weeks without a steady trickle of depressing, fantastic headlines, I’d let my guard down.

My larger point is to consider whether our inundation with news and media is anesthetizing us and preventing our full comprehension of the gravity of the news presented to us. There seems to be some cognitive dissonance and selective outrage in our reaction to tragedies. Every day, the headlines are shocking and depressing. I took a screen grab off CNN the day of my panic attack, and the main headlines were the perfect manifestation of disaster capitalism and the Shock Doctrine. Ghoulish deaths and violence mixed in with the daily dose of political distraction.

And HuffPo’s always a good destination for some midday soul shattering:

The media has, for the last many decades, worked tirelessly to keep us in a perpetual state of fear and trauma so we can never imagine a world without the protection of the State. Now social media has created a new, more immediate platform in which the establishment can foment fear and reinforce traumatized groupthink. Don’t let them steal your peace and, more importantly, don’t let them control the narrative with fear and spectacle.

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    Your Comments
    Question   Razz  Sad   Evil  Exclaim  Smile  Redface  Biggrin  Surprised  Eek   Confused   Cool  LOL   Mad   Twisted  Rolleyes   Wink  Idea  Arrow  Neutral  Cry   Mr. Green

    Total 6 comments
    • The Clucker

      People playing Pokemon Go while driving deserve to be dead.

    • VirusGuard

      Facebook is bias and uses censorship to protects it’s masters along with Twitter and Google.

      Post a picture of Trump with his pants down and it’s OK with facebook but do the same with Hillary and it becomes porn and gets removed.

      Nice comments about Clinton always end up being first in Google search results and bad comments towards Trump allways end up first when it comes to google because these corporations all work for the CIA/NSA and are fucking with your brain.

      it’s a bit like posts here, they are weighted

    • iamamerican

      It seems the only thing liberals can find wrong with Trump is “he’s mean”, would you like a side of fries with that wa wa sauce?
      However if you actually look into the Clinton crimes, they both have a rap sheet miles long and are dirty as the day is long.

    • Eggzactly

      There’s your first problem Billy, You’re on Fakebook! You are outnumbered 500-1 by Trolls on there and My Grandad told me once, “You can’t argue with Ignorance” and thats what you get on Fakebook and Twirper. :wink:

    • charlie2dogs

      the problem is you have a mental problem like most americans

    • artichoke

      Considering the number of deep-state operatives who have come slithering out of the woodwork and been exposed trying to stop Trump, it’s absurd to say he’s helping the existing deep state. He’s killing it, and good for him!

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