Social media is the new gin. I just can’t stomach it the way I used to.
Deactivating Facebook is hard. Taking it further by permanently deleting all those years of photos, messages and contacts can feel a bit like murdering your past AND future selves.
It got a little creepy at the end, there.
“Emily, Olga and 798 others will miss you,” says the Matrix. “Are you sure?”
“…You don’t have to leave us, now. Let us help you change your settings!”
For quite some time now, Facebook has become a magnifier of our world’s collective woes. As much as I love seeing what all my friends are up to, constant access to their psyches has become exhausting.
After wasting several hours constructing an argument with a relative on Facebook…I looked up, saw it was 2 am, and promptly died inside.
Facebook is my new ex-lover. I had some anxiety about ending things, but it wasn’t that bad. It got better!
1. Expectation: I’m going to lose touch with all my friends.
Reality: My friendships are improving…a lot. Instead of simply reading what I chose to share online, friends have been taking the time to text/call or meet with me directly. I hadn’t realized just how little I’ve seen/heard from most of my friends outside of social media. It’s only been ONE WEEK since I quit Facebook, and I’ve already enjoyed a serious boost in the quality of my relationships.
Oddly enough, less time spent on social media has made me feel more social. And catching up is better in person. Who I am on Facebook is a filtered, curated version of what I’m okay with everyone seeing. One-on-one, it’s a different story. I like the truth, without the gaps.
2. Expectation: Having fewer friends will make me very sad.
Reality: It’s nicer to have five good friends to talk to than 800 acquaintances you don’t see in real life.
For the quality of my relationships to improve, quantity had to go. Most of my old Facebook friends have not reached out, and probably won’t. There’s no way that 800 people will think to text or call me – and it’s actually a relief. I like them all, otherwise I wouldn’t have added them. But real life is smaller than our Facebook feeds suggest.
This isn’t burning bridges, not in the least. But there is some peace in knowing who I’m not that close with. It’s okay to move forward. People grow apart. Letting it happen naturally just saves energy, time and guilt.
3. Expectation: This won’t be good for business. My professional contacts will forget that I exist. No one will think of me, down the road.
Reality: My productivity has skyrocketed – and again, the quality of my relationships has improved.
Using my personal Facebook as a means to ‘get ahead’ makes me feel like a sociopath. As normal as that’s become these days, I just can’t freakin’ do it.
If we’re destined to work together, Facebook won’t stop us. You’re already on my blog, so…thank you. I like you. Say hi!
My other site is still in business, and it’s super easy to contact me. Sure, I could miss some smaller gigs (FB networking groups, for instance), but all that does is force me to finish the big stuff I’ve already been cooking.
4. Expectation: I’m going to have Facebook withdrawals.
Reality: I’m DEFINITELY having Facebook withdrawals. Before deletion, I hadn’t realized how frequent my Facebook visits were. In the days that followed my departure, I’d be working on my laptop and (here’s the scary part) without even thinking about it, I’d type “f” into the search bar and find myself at Facebook.com. My brain had programmed itself to seek out Facebook automatically. It wasn’t even conscious, anymore.
Now that my account was gone, I noticed. Here I am, again. For the tenth time, today. These knee-jerk Facebook visits would happen again and again while I worked at my computer. Once I noticed this pattern, I began to see others. After years of constant social media reinforcement, my focus went to shit.
It’s only been a week, but my attention span is growing. My page count has gone up…by a lot.
5. Expectation: I’ll regret deleting Facebook.
Reality: I regret not doing it sooner. It sounds so simple to quit a social media site, but doing this has impacted other areas of my life.
If I really want to have that Unrestricted goodness, some cleansing is in order.
Facebook was making me feel bad, so I removed it from the equation. Taking this step empowered me to acknowledge other things in my life that need to change.
Social media in an unnatural environment to be spending so much time in. We’re making up rules as we go.
Facebook can be great, sometimes. I love when viral topics lead to very real stuff, like Women’s March LA. But on its own, my feed is not reality. It’s a reflection of what people are reacting to the most. This skews emotions quite a bit.
Venting online makes us feel in control of things that overwhelm and intimidate us. We say things we don’t mean and polarize each other. It’s easy, because the consequences we face are relatively shallow compared to the damage our words can cause.
In person, there’s a pause. Most of us tend to think before we speak (for at least a half second). Somehow, a stranger’s feelings matter more when you can see their face. Without empathy, we’re not engaging – we’re reacting.
Divided, we suck. Connected, we thrive.
On Facebook, life is edited to boost my own engagement. It’s not real, and I feel it.
It’s lonely watching people’s lives and knowing I’m not really in them. It can be isolating to feel like I don’t measure up to my own virtual image. And it’s hard to filter through so much daily conflict. I just want some meaning.
At the Women’s March in DTLA, I saw freedom of expression at its best. People can be really awesome when they get offline, go outside and meet each other with respect. No matter how controversial the subject, nobody has to be angry. We’re all just humans with the same basic needs. That’s easier to note when we’re making eye contact.
I hope to get to know you. Outside. Where there’s light and air and empathy. I’d like to know what makes you happy, not just what makes you mad. I want to ask you how you’re doing, without presuming to know the answer. I’d love to get my focus back, and have more time for meaning-making. Deleting Facebook was a tiny step in that direction.
So far, so good.