I did it. I did it! After two years of lamenting, backtracking, and basically punking out on a promise to myself, I finally got the nerve and did it. I pulled the plug on Facebook! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I deactivated my account. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s deactivated not deleted so it’s not completely gone…but trust me. That was a huge step.
I had been on Facebook since 2006-7, way after the college explosion when mere mortals and old fogies like myself were allowed to create an account. When it was first suggested I join the growing social network, I scoffed at the idea. I mean, shit, I was already on MySpace. And AIM. And hi5. I had never really been comfortable with the idea of being completely available, whether online or off. Hell, to even get a cell phone took a lot out of me. Knowing that people can reach me at all times and having my information out there made me feel ill at ease. Truth be told, when I finally did get a cell phone, I felt like I was giving up on my anonymity. I have always been sort of an active recluse, always keeping my business to myself and telling people things on a need to know bases. So predictably Facebook was the complete opposite of what I wanted to get involved with. However the pressure was coming in from all sides; everybody and their mama wanted me to get with the program. Eventually I bit the bullet and created an account. And I was immediately hooked.
At first, I was thrilled. Facebook connected me with friends I had left behind in college as well as people from elementary, junior high and high school. It was one big life reunion. From my first crush to my first best friend, there were people who I lost touch with and who were eager to reconnect. Oh and that ex-boyfriend? I was surprised he had the nerve to send me a friend request but OK, he’s living his good life with a gorgeous girlfriend (bastard). Facebook came in handy for a long time, keeping me and everyone else updated on each other’s lives. It was a life saver when I traveled, keeping friends and family in the know on my exotic locales. I also met tons of people and Facebook made it easier for us to keep in touch and stay in each others lives.
In the meanwhile, I got to glimpse a day in the life of some friends and see what they were up to… for better or for worse. There were photos of weddings that I *ahem* was not invited to, as well as baby pictures…a lot of them. We get it. Your baby’s cute. Stop. It started to feel like taunts, as selfish as that sounds. Then there were the cringe worthy comments ranging from what I consider personal, keep- it- to- yo’self revelations to full on fights. All of a sudden, everyone had their own soapbox and were standing on top yelling out the dumbest daily observations, and detailing every daily activity down to the minute.
Now don’t get me wrong I am definitely guilty of this tomfoolery, especially in the beginning. The first year I said whatever was on my mind. I mean let’s face it, we are a narcissistic society that thrives on attention. Any inkling that someone is paying attention, whether with a comment or a thumbs up gives us satisfaction. Makes us feel someone is listening and we are important. If it doesn’t happen, we’re failures. Putting our best face forward and presenting a glossed over image of ourselves became the norm when it did not even began to tell half of the story.
Needless to say, soon I started feeling uncomfortable with what I was putting out there and who, in reality, was seeing it. When a casual acquaintance mentioned a trip that I had taken, I felt a bit violated. It had been a couple of years since I had a conversation with this person, and they didn’t reach out to me… they only saw a series of photos that I had posted. Facebook was starting to become an excuse to not reach out to people we consider “friends”. For some people, it was becoming too easy to not communicate in person, or as if picking up a phone was too much to ask for and a look at a recent update or photo would have to do. Personal connections were becoming obsolete. Case in point, I had posted a picture of a plane ticket and the cover of my passport with a sweet caption describing my mixed feelings for the trip. A “friend” asked where I was off to. It just so happened that I was beginning a new stage in my life and all of the people who were important to me knew where I was headed and why. At that moment I realized, if that person did not know then maybe our friendship had changed, and we were merely Facebook friends.
But nothing bothered me more than the two-faced posts. I’m talking about the snarky, inane, and downright mean comments that was obviously intended for the purposes to hurt other people. Seemingly subliminal messages like “ I’m looking at some of my friends photos and laughing at how dumb ya’ll look” were thrown out there, intentionally creating drama and uncertainty. It was like people finally had a space to air out their thoughts about other people without them directly knowing. What exactly is the point in this? Like we say in the hood, you got something to say, then say it to my face. Not Facebook.
Not to mention the growing insecurities of baby pictures, wedding photos, and vacation pics that make you look at your life with a microscope. I didn’t like how I was reacting to them. While I am genuinely happy for all of the accomplishments of my friends, I couldn’t help but compare. Have I come a long way? Am I where I should be in life? It’s taken me awhile to figure out that the road that someone has taken to success, may not have been easy for them. Facebook, and on another level, people themselves do not easily show the bad with the good. My friends always compliment me on how far I’ve come and the goals I’ve reached in life, and I always tell them it was not without sacrifice and a lot of hard work.
It has not been easy giving up Facebook. I regret not reaching out to some people to let them know, but I have warned friends that the time was coming near. There are days that I find myself on the website’s log in page. Absentmindedly. As if my fingers have a mind of their own. I haven’t given in, though in truth its only been one week. Will it last? I hope so. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I want to peek in in about one month. Just to see what’s new and deactivate again. Hey, I never said I was perfect. Maybe I won’t need to peek in. Maybe I’ll peek in and decide to reactivate again. In the meantime, I’m poking around the internet to find something else to occupy my time. Also I’ve been reading a whole hell of a lot lately. And I feel less…stressed. Not sure if it’s Facebook withdrawal, but it’s a welcoming feeling.
Any tips, advice to this ex-Facebook user?
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