The explosion of social media, she believed, left hundreds of millions of users with connections that were more plentiful but also narrower and less satisfying, with intimacy losing out to efficiency. It was time, Losse thought, for people to renegotiate their relationships with technology.
“It’s okay to feel weird about this because I feel weird about this, and I was in the center of it,” said Losse, 36, who has long, dark hair and sky-blue eyes. “We all know there is an anxiety, there’s an unease, there’s a worry that our lives are changing.”
Her response was to quit her job — something made easier by the vested stock she cashed in — and to embrace the ancient toil of writing something in her own words, at book length, about her experiences and the philosophical questions they inspired.
That brought her to Marfa, a town of 2,000 people in an area so remote that astronomers long have come here for its famously dark night sky, beyond the light pollution that’s a byproduct of modern life.
Losse’s mission was oddly parallel. She wanted to live, at least for a time, as far as practical from the world’s relentless digital glow.
Losse was a graduate student in English at Johns Hopkins University in 2004 when Facebook began its spread, first at Harvard, then other elite schools and beyond. It provided a digital commons, a way of sharing personal lives that to her felt safer than the rest of the Internet.
The mix has proved powerful. More than 900 million people have joined; if they were citizens of a single country, Facebook Nation would be the world’s third largest.
Despite a messy initial stock offering in May that left investors feeling bruised, Facebook has become one of the most potent and pervasive technology companies in the world, with a massive potential revenue stream from targeting ads to its users. (Donald E. Graham, chairman and chief executive of The Washington Post Co., is a Facebook board member.)
As it has grown, Facebook has increasingly drawn scrutiny from American and European regulators while provoking debate over the consequences of digital socializing — especially when it’s happening on platform built by a profit-seeking company.
At first, Losse was among those smitten. In 2005, after moving to Northern California in search of work, she responded to a query on the Facebook home page seeking résumés. Losse soon became one of the company’s first customer-service reps, replying to questions from users and helping to police abuses.