Photo by Ivan Lojko
So, yeah, that. It may not seem radical to most of you, but it was a big decision for me.
I came to Facebook late compared to most of my friends. I just wasn’t certain I wanted to spend time with it. At first, I didn’t. I’d check in once a day, smile at a few posts, maybe laugh, screw up on how I was working with it because I was flying by those proverbial pant-seats, and then sign off and get on with my day.
But then, oh, then.
My time on FB increased. I enjoyed being able to connect with so many friends in such an easy way. Writing can be a lonely business, and we writers sometimes don’t have a wide social circle, so this interaction I was experiencing filled a gap in my life, so to speak. Not that it did; not really. Emails and texts and written words on a screen are all well and good, but they’re no substitute for actual face-to-face time, hearing a person’s words, seeing their facial expressions.
Over time, a funny thing happened. I began to derive less and less pleasure from my time on FB. I grew frustrated because their algorithms wouldn’t let me automatically see posts from certain friends that they decided in their Ultimate Wisdom weren’t worth my time. I hated the political rants (particularly after this last election), the hatred, the finger-pointing, and I was astonished by some of the poison being spewed by people I thought I knew. I also hated being forced to look at pictures I’d never have sought out in a million years merely because they came up on my feed and I couldn’t avoid them. (Sure, keep me from seeing posts from an old, dear friend, but go ahead and show me images of abused children and animals. Yeah, I love that.)
I’d get off FB feeling worse than when I got on. I felt depressed. I liked myself less. And I finally decided, ENOUGH.
So this past weekend, I went through my friends list and contacted many of them (those I know personally or hear from regularly) and told them I was leaving. I provided my email address and let them know that I hoped they would stay in touch, accepting that it’s now out of my hands. I can do my part to keep our relationship alive, but if there’s no response then there’s no response, and I’m surprisingly okay with that. You can’t make someone hang with you. (Or can you? Hmmm….isn’t that what FB and its ilk are all about?)
Yesterday I wrote a short farewell post and I pulled the plug. And felt such relief and release. No pressure. No compulsion. I feel lighter, happier, and more energetic. I should have done this years ago.
I’m not saying everyone should leave FB. That’s between you and you. All I recount here is my own experience. But I feel that I’ve taken back a portion of my life, minutes (hours) stolen by aimless drifting. I’ll write more, read more, talk more with those I love, walk the dog more.
It’s like that scene at the end of the movie “Chocolat” where Anouk talks about her imaginary kangaroo friend Pontoufle, how his bad leg miraculously healed and he hopped off in search of new adventures. “I didn’t miss him.”