I’m quitting facebook at the end of the month.
This has been a long time coming. I’ve thought about it often. I started taking Sundays off a few months ago. A week or so ago I had a bit of an existential crisis. For about 48 hours, I was a wet mess of frustration, restlessness, ennui and mild depression. However, since my default emotion is anger, I was also explosive and unfair to my family. It was ugly. I'm not proud of those moments, but I know that something good always comes out of them.
After I had lost my temper and vented all over my sweet family, I settled into my guilty, but rational self, repetent and proactive. My husband was forgiving and kind, wanting to solve a problem I couldn’t define. “We live in anxious times,” he said. “Everyone is anxious and uncertain.” I don’t know if he used the word toxic, but it was implied. Our world is toxic. We can’t trust anything we read. We can’t compromise. Technology is moving at a faster pace than our psyches can keep up with. We have not evolved fast enough to absorb the bombardment of information (much of it false) in a healthy way. Most of us don’t have the satisfaction of completing survival activities: hunting, growing food, building shelter, gathering water and chopping firewood. Instead, we live in a world that makes it easy to survive but hard to feel satisfied. We are disconnected from the land, from nature, from logic, from each other. We can text somebody on another continent but we have lost the ability to talk to the person sitting right next to us. We can be constantly entertained but have lost our ability to entertain ourselves. We can choose from 50 types of cereal, but have forgotten to be grateful for the bowl that nourishes us.
I’m not blaming this on Facebook, at least not exclusively. And I’m not a technology or social media teetotaler. I think technology enhances as much as it hinders. But I am running out of excuses to keep Facebook, while the reasons to quit are piling up. I want to lay out my main reasons for quitting, not to convince you to quit, but to be transparent.
Reason 1: Wasted Time
If I could limit my time on Facebook to five minutes a day, perhaps I wouldn’t need to quit. First of all, five minutes would be plenty, but it’s never enough and it’s so easy to check it over and over. I go down rabbit holes of reading comments to controversial posts, watching funny animal videos and following links to mediocre blogs. And after I post a picture or status update, my desire to check it goes up even more, to see how high the little red number goes. I read somewhere that our brain on Facebook is similar to our brain on drugs. The likes and comments feed our addiction but ultimately leave us unsatisfied. I can relate to that.
Reason 2: The Stuff People Post
I have convinced myself over and over that the pictures of friend’s kids and the ability to see what good things people are up to and the chance to keep in touch with aunts and uncles I would never see otherwise outweigh the oversharing and political nonsense and passive aggressive memes and actively aggressive comments, but I’m starting to realize that isn’t true. What stays with me isn’t the cute kids; it’s the nonsense. That’s what I stew on. That’s what takes my mental energy for the rest of the day. And while nice comments and shallow connections via social media offer a short-lived kind of validation, the rush is fleeting and false, not offering any real solace for the human condition, but instead feeding crumb by crumb all the worst parts of us: the need for attention, for fist bumps when we make funny but uninformed statements, for comparison to others however limited and false that comparison might be. Facebook is not an innocent place.
Reason 3: The Worst of Me
Facebook brings out the worst in me. It encourages the part of me that wants to be judgmental, that is easily influenced and that tends toward insecurity, jealousy, and ungratefulness. What we see and what we show are but fractions of any real life. They are curated specimens, the artwork that serves as a facade to cover the troubled life of the artist. I’m not saying that what people post isn’t genuine; I’m just saying it isn’t a true representation of the whole. Consequently, what we see makes us ripe for judgment and jealousy. Somebody oversharing? Judgment. Somebody looking amazing? Jealousy. Different political views? Judgment. Promotion? Jealousy.
I’m really glad we didn’t have Facebook when I was growing up. Kids don’t just hear about the party they weren’t invited to, they see pictures and read comments talking about how awesome it was. Cowards can be bullies and I see this as an adult and can’t imagine what goes on for impressionable adolescents.
I was talking to a friend over coffee, and we were discussing facebook and she said something like, “I don’t like how it changes the way I look at people.” Ultimately, we want our opinions to be based on real connection and experience, but with Facebook, a lot of other factors are at play.
Reason 4: The Power to Corrupt
I try not to get political in my blog, so I’m just going to leave this one with little explanation. Suffice it to say that there is evidence that Facebook has been a player in the corruption of individuals and whole systems in our country. Facebook continues to influence elections and feed the fires of hatred and division. Even with the current Covid-19 outbreak, which shouldn't be political, I have found it difficult to get a hold on what is really happening with all the uninformed commentary.
I’ll stop here at the risk of this post getting too long and preachy. This has been on my mind for years, but I’ve convinced myself to stay for several reasons. First of all, I don’t live close to my extended family. They are mostly out on the east coast, and it’s hard to feel so separate. As many of you know, my mother died 17 years ago, and I’ve convinced myself that Facebook is my only link to her side of the family. Secondly, I have made connections, found old friends and gotten to know people in a way I simply wouldn’t without Facebook. Finally, I’ve convinced myself I need it for my business marketing. The Facebook audience is large and plugged in, after all.
The list of reasons to stay is meager compared to my list of reasons to leave. And I have solutions. First of all, I will find ways to market locally. I don't desire to have a million followers, just a small circle of people who trust me and benefit from my services. Secondly, I will remember that the shallow connections on Facebook don’t make friendships. My friendships happen in person. If I want to catch up with an old friend, I will make time for real interaction, not just a handful of likes and comments on the pictures they post. The desire to keep up with family is the biggest draw, but I have an idea for that as well. I will gather email addresses and send out monthly updates, requesting updates from them in return.
I’ve been a member of Facebook since 2008. If I assume I’ve spent 30 minutes a day for the last 12 years (and believe me, that’s a lowball estimate), I’ve given almost 2,200 hours to Facebook. Imagine what I could have done with that time. I could’ve written a book or two. I could’ve contacted every person I’ve ever considered a friend and spent hours catching up. That time is gone now, and while it wasn’t all wasted, most of it was not well spent. As of September 1, I won’t be giving Facebook any more hours of my time. And I’m pretty darn excited about it.
If you like my blog posts and would like to stay updated, please send me the best email address to contact you. I also have an instagram account @goldenlifecoach. I'm not super active on it, but plan to be more so in the future. Finally, send me your e-mail address and or phone number if I don't already have it and we can keep in touch. This is by no means goodbye...it's simply goodbye to Facebook.