Since the new year is an excellent time to adjust one’s habits and routines I’ve decided to experiment with a number of changes.
One of the biggest is to stop using Facebook. So far I’ve gone three days and the feeling is one of tranquility and peacefulness. It is not that I have anything against Facebook or agree with the reasons of the usual anti-Facebook crowd. Facebook to me has been invaluable since I have a vast amount of acquaintances throughout the world with whom I would have lost all contact and even memory if it wasn’t for Facebook. Facebook helped me keep those connections from completely dying.
But now, seven or eight years on I’ve finally had my fill, like one who has eaten too many sweets and feels nauseous or perhaps like one who has drunken too much and now feels like throwing up.
Perhaps it is my overindulgence that has lead to my current feelings. I’ve started three groups and a page and am without rival in sharing old pictures of me and my friends. But this circus has run its course and it seems as though I’m watching the same act over and over in my infinite news feed.
It is not that my news feed is boring; there are a wide array of subjects and material. There are the women who post image after image of themselves, sometimes four or five per day. Upon obtaining a boyfriend these same women post image after image of them kissing their boyfriend, change their profile picture to them kissing their boyfriend and henceforth every activity is with this boyfriend.
For those with families, children are the main subjects. I do enjoy seeing these family photos and what my friends lives are now like but like any reasonable person one or two family albums are usually enough.
There are those who post every random thought, minute daily detail or shred of internet distraction. Some use Facebook as therapy and reassurance. Those that need constant comforting from their friends as their lives are not turning out as they had hoped. Others have pretty fantastic experiences and travel the world, post beautiful pictures and are really living life to the fullest. There are many many others, but even though the movie has been grand, it has run for a very very long time and I now prefer to spend my time doing something else.
I think one of the main attractions of Facebook is the pleasure people get when others “like” their status updates. A higher “like” count equals more joy. I too was addicted to the “like” but realize I’ll feel much better by getting off this drug completely.
I do feel a bit cheated by Facebook. In the land of Facebook there are no real deep connections, no substance, everything is superficial such as the “like.” I’ve never had one deep conversation nor reconnected with my friends. In the land of Facebook I’ve received thousands and thousands of “likes” but not more than five phone calls from these friends in over five years! The long, in-depth e-mails I used to have have dropped to zero. Not one long, interesting catch up e-mail in over five years.
All of these old friends who I’ve missed over a decade or two have suddenly all appeared all at once. It seems as though it is a terrible nightmare. I’m having a party, almost everyone I’ve ever had a conversation with in the past two decades shows up but instead of a hug and interesting conversation to catch-up they just give me a thumbs up. I walk through this enormous crowd and nobody can speak, they just look at me, smile and give a thumbs up or poke me. Very few are able to utter a sentence or two but mostly it is just a blank smile. Some of them are stuck to their boyfriends in a kiss. Their eyes turn to me and mumble a greeting but with lips continually pressed against their beau.
Some of them are able to get a private message to me but out of the entire party only five or so have this ability. It is better than poke, better than a sentence but never has been more than a paragraph or two and usually just contains the standard greetings in longer format.
Before Facebook I often thought how wonderful it would be to catch up with many of these people. Well, here they are, all together in the same place, but the nightmare I’ve described never changes, it is the same dream night after night.
So, I’ve decided to wake up. I don’t want to have this dream anymore. I don’t feel like sharing and I think many people have had their fill of my pictures as well! So let us have an amicable separation. It is not that I still don’t find FB attractive anymore, I may, and I may ask for a late night rendezvous once in a while but on the overall I think it is much better and healthier to have a formal separation.
I’ve deleted Facebook from my phone, and removed the permanent tab in my browser. I have other interests in this universe known as cyberspace and it just doesn’t make sense returning to the same planet over and over again.
I do hope to keep all my relationships alive, but like plants that need continual watering and sunlight, relationships take effort, even a word or poke every few years to remain.
Yet I find plants easier to maintain. I’m one who remembers my friends, remembers the times we had and can pick up right where we left off. I’ve found this is an uncommon ability. Some “friends” never bother to write back when I do put in the effort. I’ve reached out in many ways. Phone calls, messages or posting something to others pages. I’ve found the level of engagement or even a response to have severely declined over the years. Perhaps everyone is exhausted of the FB drug but have become so dependent they do not realize it is FB itself causing the fatigue.
I read an article recently that everyone is creating their own “brand,” on FB. This article was actually about divorce and sharing the divorce on FB but in a positive way in order to maintain the brand. For me, my favorite joy is sharing old photos as a way to reconnect but I quickly learned that some people may consider old photos damaging to their brand. It is very hard to tell as some react with utter joy, many remain silent and one with a de-friend!
The person who wanted to de-friend me told me that her Facebook page was “professional” and as all of her work colleagues were here FB friends they didn’t need to see an old picture. She didn’t even have the courtesy to just remove me from her friends list but instead asked that I remove her from my friends list! I wanted to retort that she might be confused with LinkedIn since that is the appropriate network to be “professional,” however I did consider this person a friend so just accommodated her wishes. Furthermore, I didn’t post it to her page, I posted it to a group and tagged her so her own network wouldn’t have seen it. But, I didn’t feel like explaining this as I was dumbfounded that what I would have considered previously to be a good friend was not.
This brings me to another point and that is I’ve found that at 37 years old a good portion of my friend network are losing their memories. Specific events aside, when I connect with a friend I’m immediately able to pick up where we left off as I mentioned above. I remember the feelings and the deep sense of connection with these people. At 37 most people will have either forgotten, or perhaps do not even wish to remember now that their lives have changed. There are those that continually wish to forget their own past, or at least selectively remember it with a very minimal of it reappearing in the present. I’ve come to understand that a majority of these types of people only want to live in the present. These are the people who do not want to see pictures of last years haircut let alone recall who they dated in high school.
In closing, I really don’t need Facebook as I have another. This blog is a way for me to record my own life. I don’t need likes but I do need to write, to put my thoughts down so they are not forgotten. I want my thoughts to be available 300 years from now for my descendants who will load these posts into a hologram that resembles me and speak these very words. I want to record the beauty of life, this life that I’ve rediscovered. Life is a wonderful experience full of beauty and mystery if one just pays attention. Life really is nothing more than an accumulation of experiences and these experiences are so valuable to me that I want to record them as our human memories are unreliable and frankly not very good.
WordPress for me is an excellent format to record a life. That is what I want to do. I don’t need likes, I don’t need targeted ads, I don’t need the clickbait nonsense of “what happens next will amaze you click here.” I need substance. I need friends who actually want to make an effort to keep in touch. And thus, with the beginning of a new year I no longer need Facebook