I’d thought about it for some time, threatening to carry out Facebook deactivation/deletion here and there.
My friend Josh had done it and survived.
When I asked him about it, he said he didn’t even miss it, while I adopted the look of Moonies who can’t believe you can survive without a fearless third party leader prompting you to self-express, like, or re-share multiple times a day.
My sister had done it and survived on google+ alone without ever looking back. I often missed her on my Facebook, but her action made it so that I had to actually use the phone if I wanted to contact her.
Neither of these two people disappeared when they deleted their Facebooks.
Meanwhile, my days were increasingly regulated by thoughts in my head I thought might make good status updates, events that were transpiring in my life I thought I needed to take pictures of in order to validate they actually had happened by posting them and thus receiving “likes”–the bulk of which came from passive friends who never actually contacted me outside of Facebook.
The Facebook was also causing me a great deal of anxiety. I added people I didn’t know well because I wanted to be more involved in their lives, only to find we never interacted on Facebook, either, yet now they could know a lot about my world without making any effort at all: Who my friends were, who my family was, what food I ate/liked, who I’d been married to, who I’d been hanging out with.
I also worried late at night about things I had posted and pictures I had put up. I wasn’t positive any of the filters I’d erected to separate religious folk from athiest folk from family folk from work acquaintances from core friends from sober friends from drinking friends from political friends and non-political friends were even working. Also, people were using my Facebook to spy on me and my activities throughout the week. At first, I thought this was quaint. Then, it started to terrify me.
“I could tell you were OK because you were hanging out with so and so.”
“I stopped reading your status updates because they were too depressing.”
“I saw that picture you put up from when you were 14, you’ve not changed a bit.”
“I heard you went to that show last weekend…”
“I know everything you do and think.”
Here were about 300 people, all of whom I knew personally, but out of whom maybe two dozen were every day friends I actively engaged with outside the Internet, some from literary worlds, music worlds, junior high school, extended family, etc, and I was trying to share with them all the same things I would really only tell a few close friends in the past?
I was also getting distracted by the clutter on Facebook. Ads, random updates about groceries and shopping, pictures of everyone’s lovers and babies and Black Friday purchases.
Make it stop! My brain screamed, yet I found myself compelled to click
And click my life away.
It’s been about a week since I deactivated.
Nobody even noticed. Not. One. Person.
I had to tell my closest friends and family, just so they wouldn’t look for me there, though most of them don’t anyhow.
I had put all this time into a third party application that acted as an intermediary between my friends and I, and in the end, was just like an abusive boyfriend who moved on without a care in the world after causing me many sleepless nights of nail-biting anxiety.
I had also started to notice while using Facebook, I didn’t feel so hot.
Chemicals would rush through my body when I saw a guy I had a crush on loving on another girl in a picture or flirty back and forth banter, an ex talking about their new whatever, a friend who hadn’t contacted me in weeks chumming it up with a mutual pal four consecutive nights in a row: BFF FOREVA!! Parties attended, concerts seen, expensive foods eaten, places traveled…
These things I could process on a daily basis when seen here and there, but in the numbers occurring seemed to be causing me physical pain. It can’t be healthy to get a negative chemical rush multiple times a day in anticipation of “likes” or “no likes” translated as social acceptance vs being invisible, constantly comparing numbers and situations and only seeing the most socially acceptable and positive of people’s lives day in and day out held up against your uncut and unfiltered every day existence.
It seemed others were having more fun, more connection, more excitement, better jobs, more likes, more acceptance. I stopped seeing all of what I had. And beyond that, it started to feel like a crap shoot. I never knew who would post or see or like what. It was like playing whack a mole at Chuckie Cheese, only there seemed to be more holes than moles.
Shit was basically getting old.
I needed to close that portal so that no one could slurk through it without my permission.
Since I deactivated, I’ve been filling the space I would have spent passively scrolling through my useless babble of a news feed where who sees what, when, is seemingly based on random arbitrary algorithms only slightly manipulated by alterations made by the user. Instead, I’m actually making phone calls, working more on music, sharing specific things with specific people I know would want to hear them instead of bludgeoning 300 people with those things (and visa versa), painting my nails, reading, meditating, hiking, being appreciative of all I am and have and…gasp…actually being alone with my thoughts and my thoughts alone.
I don’t worry what my acquaintances and family think of my pictures and my activities, whose going to what show or hanging out with what person. I don’t have people knowing things I didn’t personally tell them, unless it’s something I share here, after a greater deal of reflection and censure.
I’m not as anxious. I’m not down about my life. I share things that matter to me with one or two people a day who I know will care, rather than spewing my thoughts, feelings and beliefs out to 300+ people who could likely give a fuck, and often used these things against me when I bumped into them in person.
It’s a privilege to know all about me and enter my life, as it is for someone to know about you, reader, and enter your life. Privacy is underrated. I’ve realized lately, or accepted, that being a sensitive artistic person makes every interaction that much more special and worthy of being processed, reflected on and archived in the sanctity of my inner world, not in public open all the time like a psycho-data stream for hundreds of people to see and judge. I can’t handle it. I need a great deal of alone time in order to create.
Facebook also took up a lot of mind space, 24/7. As a human being, I’m drawn to engage in addictive behaviors. Facebook became an addiction, and started causing me negative consequences. So I quit cold turkey.
The less brain clutter from web babble and religious groups and popularity validation contests, the better. The more genuine one on one friendships, the better.
If people want to communicate with me, they know my number, they know my email, the closest know where I live.
I will no longer engage passively with people and let them participate in my life without making an effort to actually participate in my life. It’s too damn short. I value quality over quantity in relationships. I don’t need a hundred likes. I need one or two genuine likes, a handful of dedicated readers who actually comment, like I already have.
I don’t need a third party monitoring all of my activities and thoughts and photographs, archiving them, deciding who sees what, when. Seems to me a great way to keep people plugged in all the time, not listening to their own inner worlds, but always looking outwards. Not to say it’s all malicious, but anything can be used as a malicious tool…especially words.
Bye bye Facebook. Hello quality of life.