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Friday, Apr 20, 2018
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Column: Deleting Facebook? Don’t worry, I’ll replace it for you.

I can understand why you might wish to delete Facebook, especially given that the company responded to the news about Cambridge Analytica by saying, oh, no, the problem was not that someone had access to the data of 50 million people, most of whom had no idea that their information was being shared, that part was okay; the problem was they sold it.

That is why I have this special offer: If you want to delete Facebook, but are worried that you will miss it, I am happy to become your personal Facebook and do everything that Facebook used to do.

First, I will tell you any time anyone you went to high school with gets married or engaged. I will accompany this information with uncomfortable pictures of them standing on a beach, squinting into a bright light.

I will be sure to let you know any time your friends parents have political opinions. I know how much this matters to you.

I will make a terrible slideshow of pictures of you with someone you havent spoken to since college, and will leap out at you unexpectedly in the morning to tell you that There Are Many Friendships In The World, But None Of Them Are Quite Like Yours. You will never think this is worth sharing, but that will not stop me from doing it every day.

Some days, without warning, I will surprise you with a painful reminder of a lost loved one that you werent prepared for at all. We Thought Youd Like To Remember This, I will hiss.

I will show you one video, which you were never terribly interested in in the first place, over and over and over again. You will be trapped in the world of this video forever. It will be the first thing you see in the morning and the last thing you see at night. You will beg me to stop showing it to you, but I will be merciless.

I will bring you several hours worth of video of Mark Zuckerberg grilling something.

Some days, for no reason, I will remind you that once, seven years ago, you took a badly focused picture of a Smirnoff Ice. I will act as though this is something you want to remember.

If you try to get help with a recipe from friends, I will alert none of your friends that you want help with this recipe, and instead bring you a man you once met at a conference years ago to make a controversial statement about the #MeToo movement.

I will tell you essay-length things about personal struggles your friends are having, ones they would not share with any one person directly. You will never speak of this in person.

I will give you a reason to hate everyone you love.

I will bring you hundreds and hundreds of pictures of babies. Strangers babies. Friends babies. Stray unaffiliated babies. I will never tire of bringing them to you. You will drown in babies, and the babies will keep coming, and you will die and be reborn and yet they will not cease. You will say you like all of them, even though you only like some of them.

I will bring you information that is bad. Do you want some information about how bad things are these days that has not been properly checked? I have that in spades, as much as you need, to make you as upset as you would like to be.

I will gladly provide all these services, while recording everything you do and sharing this information with random unscrupulous strangers, if you or any of your friends has ever succumbed to the desire to take a personality quiz. Sorry!

In exchange for the ability to learn what your high school friends mother thinks about the Black Lives Matter movement (she is not in favor), please know that you are giving me your data forever so that I can give it to, honestly, anyone. Could be Cambridge Analytica. Could be the Obama team! I dont really care! I am moving fast and breaking things, like a startled cat!

I will repeatedly reassure you that your privacy is very important to me. Thus, every so often, without asking your permission first, I will automatically let everyone in your social network see absolutely everything and require you to go through several complicated steps to change this back.

Youre welcome!

But with me in your life you will never have to remember a birthday again. With me in your life, you can rest secure in the knowledge that everyone you have ever loved or met is wrong about politics in some alarming way. Arent you glad to know this? Here is another picture of those shoes you didnt buy. Here is a baby. Here is another baby. This is what you want.

Alexandra Petri is the author of "A Field Guide to Awkward Silences."
2018 Washington Post Writers Group

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