“Facebook is like a jail. You sit around, waste time, have a profile picture, write on walls and get poked by guys you don’t really know.”
~Unknown….I saw it on Facebook.
Over the years, I’ve had an on-again/off-again, love/hate relationship with Facebook.
I’ve loved that I get to watch the children of my childhood friends grow-up….without having to actually visit any of them.
I’ve hated when my childhood friends get way too invested in all the “Mommy Wars” nonsense.
I’ve loved when elderly people I know post pictures of themselves road-tripping across the country and ticking off bucket list goals. Like, ride a mechanical bull without breaking a hip.
I’ve hated when they post stuff like this:
If you are practically old enough to remember the smell of the sea from the bough of the Mayflower, you’re also old enough to know that nobody hopped off that boat and was like, “Awesome! A new and valuable culture! Teach me your ways while I’m here for this short visit.”
I’ve loved the links to Mommy Bloggers who manage to write about the trials and tribulations of parenting without being judgy and self-righteous.
I’ve hated the links to the Mommy Bloggers who write things called: The 347 Things You Should Never Say to Your Child Unless You Want Him to Grow-Up to be a Piece of Shit Who Hates You.
Seriously ladies, just because you’ve been a parent for five minutes, doesn’t make you Dr. Spock. So please, STOP.
I’ve loved that I’m able to unfollow people who regurgitate ridiculous memes from sites called “Survive our Collapse” and “Conservative World Daily,” as though they are actual, reputable news sources, without those people knowing about it.
I’ve hated that during every presidential election, I find out that a ridiculous number of people I know and thought I liked, are REALLY big douche-bags and I have to unfriend them.
I’ve loved that I can quietly stalk the accounts of people who were mean to me in high school, and then point and laugh at them through my screen when I find out that they peaked in the 12th grade and then rapidly PLUMMETED downhill from there.
I can’t think of a comparable thing I hate to include here. Honestly, that….☝🏼might be my favorite thing about Facebook.
So, for years now I’ve been hovering over the delete button, wanting to cut ties, but then not actually pulling the trigger.
I’ve been so unsure about losing a platform that has connected me socially to family and friends I might otherwise…well, most likely…would never speak to again if it weren’t for this one common denominator that keeps us tenuously tethered. Especially since I hate talking on the phone, and I’d rather lose an eye than attend a reunion.
But maybe that’s how life is supposed to go. Back in the olden days, people just sort of came and went, didn’t they? The people you really wanted to remain connected with, and who you wanted to share pieces of your life with, required effort.
Most of my Facebook friends are relationships that exist purely on the surface of the electronic page. We like each others pictures, post the obligatory “Happy Birthday!” when FB reminds us it’s that time of year. We give a thumbs up, or sad face emoji when appropriate, but that’s about it.
With just a few exceptions, I know only what these “friends” want to share on their news feeds and vice-versa. Most of the time, those same feeds are the reason our relationships will never leave that space. We have nothing in common. Hell, I don’t even know half of their email addresses or cell phone numbers.
Our only shared history is that time we were in freshman biology together. Our only shared story is when that kid Richard, who no one knows what happened to, ate the heart of the frog we were dissecting for $7.00 in mostly loose change a group of us pooled together.
Can you die from formaldehyde poisoning twenty-years later?
And I mean, how many times can you even talk about that one thing anyway?
And yet, for years I’ve wasted my time and emotional energy scrolling through posts that annoyed me more often than filled me up, and accepted friend requests from people I could barely remember. What was ever the point?
Then there are the constant ads I didn’t ask for.
The invites to follow somebody’s third cousins, uncles, sisters, neighbors Lularoe page.
Requests to attend 37 virtual Pampered Chef Parties hosted by people I worked with at the Kopper Popper at the mall in the 10th grade….or were in my Brownie Troop that one month I was a Brownie in 1986….or the girl I sat next to at the first professional conference I attended and never spoke to again.
Then there’s the barrage of unsolicited advice from all the doctors….who got their degrees from the College of Web MD and Google….and the uber-cringeworthy overshares.
And oh yeah, Russia and all of their shenanigans.
I don’t know about you, but I can honestly say that I have never been influenced to change my position as it relates to social issues, politics, medical choices, or any other major life decision due to something someone posted on Facebook.
I have occasionally asked for recommendations for the best local sushi restaurant, and if anyone knows a Disney vacation travel sorceress.
I have seen a pair of sneakers, or a cute haircut and felt inspired….and sure, I may have occasionally become too invested in certain newsworthy events shared socially. Like, the efforts of one Colorado community to flush out the Mad Crapper; a woman jogger who was captured on residential security cameras pooping on neighborhood lawns during her runs a few years back….BUT, I don’t turn to social media for actual education, or even news.
So for me, it no longer feels like a fun space where we show up, and show off our kids, houses, dogs, vacations, food, #OOTD’s.
Instead, it feels more like a wasteland of misinformation and shouting and conspiracy theory.
I just finished listening to a podcast called “The Opportunist” about a woman named Sherry Shriner who built a Reptilian Alien Cult nearly entirely online. There were no formal gatherings of the group, the majority of her people never even knew what she actually looked like, because not only did they never meet her, but she also apparently didn’t post pictures of herself.
Cult. I mean, WTF.
Remember the good old days when building a cult and perpetuating ridiculous conspiracy theories required actual effort, at least? Now, people have the ability to amass followers from all over the world and stir them up into action, all from the confines of a recliner.
And no. This world is now a hard pass for me.
So, a little over a month ago I finally pulled the plug, i.e., logged out and deleted the app from all of my devices.
I haven’t officially deleted my account yet, because how will I know if trash day has been moved after a holiday if not for my towns community page? Or, what day the PTO at my sons school has designated school spirit day?
It seems every important update I need to be made aware of is posted on either FB or Twitter, so for now, I’ve set up email alerts for posts I care/need to be aware of and I’ve ghosted the rest.
I didn’t even do that thing where you post about leaving Facebook in a lengthy prose outlining all the ways in which it’s gross and soul sucking, and then wait around to read all the comments about my announcement.
I just left.
Much like I used to do in the middle of dates with guys I wasn’t clicking with back in my twenties….no explanation or warning. I just got up from the table to “use the bathroom” and never went back.
And you know, I doubt I’m even missed, or that my absence has been noted. None of the hundreds of “friends” I’ve accumulated on Facebook have reached out to say, “You still alive? Everything OK?”
Yet, I’ve not been lacking in connections. I spend actual time, and talk and text almost daily with friends about nothing and everything in that way you do, in that language you develop, with people you’ve invested in knowing and who know you in return.
My circle is small, but it’s fulfilling. When I want to go in search of something or someone inspiring, educational, or need to know, I literally go in search of it….because that’s at least half the fun anyway.
And even though it’s only been a little over a month, the world is beginning to feel a little bit more interesting, but also smaller in some ways.
I’m not hiding from anything. Well….OK….I am; assholes. I’m hiding from assholes.
But aside from that, I just find that it feels different and far better to absorb the news and current events and life exclusively from sources I trust. To discuss thoughts and opinions directly with people I respect and admire….even when we don’t agree….and not through the lens of Facebook and the useless and distracting noise that comes with it.
These past several weeks, I’ve been rediscovering the simple pleasure of picking up an actual newspaper, watching the evening news on TV, and taking long walks with a friend as we discuss everything from politics to motherhood.
I’ve been reminded how much I like and appreciate the intimacy of reaching out to someone; a friend, a family member, I’ve been thinking about just to say hi. And the way that connection leads to conversation. This, rather than “poking them” or posting on their wall and then participating in the kind of stunted back and forth that is rarely meaningful….and inevitably invites a crowd I don’t want to hang out with….to join in.
So, it’s goodbye Facebook. You’re just too messy and cringey and loud. Like a friend who can’t hold her liquor and won’t shut up. The one who used to be cute and endearing and entertaining, but is now just exhausting and taking up too much space, but not in a good way.
Please don’t call me, or poke me, or sell my information to Vladimir. Let’s just part like the fair-weather friends we’ve always been.