Just as I was late to the party in joining Facebook, so is this tale of how I how find it loathsome. I am not the first to figure out that for most of us, it should simply run its course and cycle out of our lives – sort of like the requisite bad relationships and dead end jobs that make up a full life.
I’ve been 100% Facebook free for well over a year now. A fact I admit (with some discomfort) is partially responsible for my contented state. I have passions, yes. But they are not tied to the phony distractions of others. It is my position that Facebook has given platform to the senseless, and made decorum and privacy a thing of the past.
I see myself as a modern gal and free thinker. As a writer, free speech is near and dear. But the strange, disingenuous sociological changes that take place online cannot be denied – and I would contend can be the death of meaningful exchanges.
See if you recognize any of these people on your “friend” list.
-The person you know is going through a lot of difficulty in real life, but all of her multiple posts show a smiley, fulfilled person.
-The superficially confident friend who constantly posts photos that are “accidentally” sexy and flattering – thereby soliciting a running feedback of “omg you look great!!”
-The person who passive aggressively seems butthurt by the fact that you don’t “like” all their posts, no matter how inane.
-The person you find out is functionally illiterate, or has uninformed or polarized viewpoints that are offensive to you – all of which you learned due to Facebook, but were blissfully unaware of before.
I’m sure I could come up with more caricatures of our shared experience, but you get the idea.
So how did all of this equate to unhappiness for me? I found it was a thing to navigate – a stressor without merit. The more time you put into a thing, the more you feel you should get out of it, right? Wrong. It was a vicious cycle of effort + expectation + time suck = frustration. I discovered some unflattering things about myself, too. I can be very mercurial online in a way I would never be in person. Even if you claim you are not bothered by the intermittent remarks, opinions, and boring life details that are put out there, I urge you to have another look. I had roughly 100 friends when I left Facebook. I know perhaps 3 of them now. And guess what? We have time to have dinner together.
It is here that I will acknowledge that some people use Facebook in a healthy way. Having frequent shares with friends or family across the miles can maintain and even deepen relationships that today’s busy lifestyles wouldn’t permit. A wild guess on my part would say that about ten percent of the FB population are enjoying only this.
On the other hand, there can be a loss of patience and respect from the “oversharing” that goes on. I lost one close girlfriend and a cousin to this. It IS a double-edged sword, so be careful out there.
It’s also probably no mistake that newer sites like Instagram (which is photo driven) and Twitter (which allows for only 140 characters per post) are getting bigger. I recommend either of these over Facebook for all of the fun, without the pain in the ass. I also have never had that “cyber tracked” feeling on Twitter, or been solicited by a crowd funder for Save the Pandas.
Do what you do. Love what you love. Let me know your thoughts. In the meantime,