I had been inching toward my own Facebook cliff since about October, and when I happened upon this article about stress and Facebook, it brought me right to the edge. If you don’t want to click the link (and I totally don’t blame you, nor do I want you to deviate from this awesome article to read some others chump’s) it basically argues that Facebook’s “blunt platform” means the more friends you have, the more probable it is that something you post will offend (or be cause for judgement from) one or several of your connections. This makes sense as you would probably not divulge all of the facts regarding your 18-hour champagne and Red Bull new year’s binge which ended with you waking up on the hood of a beat-up ’86 Camry in the Tenderloin using someone else’s shoe as a pillow to your boss; whereas you may piece together the glory as best you can to your mates.
Naturally, after reading the article, I posted it. A few ‘likes’ and a snarky comment was enough for me to make the decision to take the plunge; I just didn’t know when. The inevitability of my leaving Facebook ironically offered a slight reprieve to my stress during which I clung to the comfort of my paltry notifications. I carried on for a bit like usual, doling out ‘likes’ and proffering unsolicited grammatical tips. But in the back of my mind a lump of angst grew. I started to feel a bit helpless. I started to feel like a passenger and not the driver in these frequent visits to Facebook. The previous joy of seeing what the world was up to was now accompanied by an inkling of panic as I saw myself doing something simply out of habit and not for the sake of need or pleasure. My view of the Facebook world became increasingly misanthropic and hypocritical as I criticized the quotidian platitudes being chronicled while taking a picture of my Oscar Meyer bologna sandwich to be posted. Once you hate seeing what you love producing, you know you got problems.
The routine of opening a new tab, going to bookmarks, clicking Facebook, waiting for the page to load and seeing if the first post on the feed was new, and scrolling down anyway for the umpteenth time, seeing again and again the same crap, from the same small group of active posters…had been so automatized that I caught myself doing it even when I had set out to check something on Google while working. Realizing that repetition for a number of years of a seemingly innocuous series of mouse clicks had actually messed up a part of my brain–the part that allows me to stay focused for literally two seconds as I carry out a task that is important to my work–was just what I needed to hold my nose and jump.
So I quit. Or ‘deactivated’ to be current with Facebook nomenclature. This means I can go back and resume any time I want, but to present I have had no such urges. So far, missing out on tons of social media happenings is being severely outweighed by simply not caring about such things. And what a relief it is not to have to pretend to care either! Not to offend my actual friends who post on Facebook, but even when I was onboard, I hardly clicked any of the shit that was posted. I confess: most ‘likes’ came without clicking, YouTube videos not featuring cats went largely unseen, memes and other sassy eCards were appreciated but not shared, posts longer than a few lines were skimmed at best, pictures of food made my hungry so were–by and large–ignored, articles…articles were probably clicked, but no doubt only 10% were read before their tab was closed.
One thing that I did appreciate looking at were photos. Which brings me to my present dilemma. I want to share my photos, but not with 363 people. Namely, I want to show things to my very close friends and family. My wife suggested I look into some of the other myriad social platforms out there, especially those that aim to cure the all-my-friends-in-one-bucket blues. But that just seems like curing a stomach ache by jabbing a stick in your eye. I could use Picasa or Flickr or some other photo sharing tool but their current interfaces are a bit rudimentary and it would be another thing I would have to teach my mom how to use. I have thought about using this blog to output our goings on, but I would have to change templates to one that is more photo friendly. And that is just not going to happen.
At present I am enjoying my simple Facebook-less life. I feel less burdened and generally glad I jumped ship. For one, I have more time to work (or write blog posts), two, I am less distracted when I work, and lastly, the wife can tell me things from Facebook without me rolling my eyes because that news was so five minutes ago. I still have to figure out how to include my family and friends who are very far away in my life, but, for now, I think the wife will just do the posting.