Sunday, February 7, 2016

Quitting Facebook (The World Won't Fall Apart)

So, confession time? If I could actually live in Facebook, I probably would. I joined in 2009, connected with a core group of friends and haven't really logged off since. I'm not checking my feed while driving. I do get approximately eight hours of sleep each night. I do check Facebook within ten minutes of waking up each morning, virtually all day long and before I go to bed each night. I read local articles, shared in local groups, selective political blurbs, funny memes. I check on my beloved online friends to make sure they're okay. I update my husband on family activities, whenever relevant, because he doesn't log in unless absolutely necessary. It hasn't been "absolutely necessary" for years. He's proud of that. I admire him for that.

While I enjoy most of the time I spend on Facebook, it doesn't satisfy some part of my core that knows there is something more to life; that there is this real, tangible, thing known as life. After a day on Facebook, I don't feel the pride, and value, of accomplishment. I feel the regret of squandered opportunity.

Beyond the guilt, I feel wounded by hurtful generalizations. I feel angry because I see too many memes fueled by fear and hatred. I feel like giving up. I have learned that I love people more when I don't know about the darkness that has escaped from their hearts and flowed out of their pecking fingers. It's getting harder to look specific people in the eye and attempt to listen to them when we see each other again in the flesh. It's even worse in an election year. Everyone is so certain that they are right; everyone ends up being wrong.

I made a choice to remove myself from Facebook this year. While trying to decide how exactly I should follow through, I came to accept that a few specific groups, and people are still important to me, and my daily life. I couldn't just delete my account and lose them. I couldn't temporarily deactivate my account because I would lose my admin status and abilities. I can, however, remove the app from my devices whenever I want without consequences. Gradually increasing the duration of my absence allowed me to get used to the concept of having a life, and getting things done, at a rate I could handle.

I started in January, just Sundays. That was pretty easy. Sundays are busy days, especially when I'm healthy enough to be busy. I learned a couple valuable lessons.

1. I function beautifully without 24 hours of Facebook.
2. Nobody misses me when I'm gone that long. It was a valuable bit for my ego to acknowledge. I am not so fabulous that the world will end without me.

This will be the first full weekend (48 hours) that I will be off of Facebook. Late Saturday morning, I had a solid reminder of days long ago; when friends weren't just a text away. I couldn't just start typing away to get my friends' advice on some First World Crisis. I had to sit still and think things through on my own. I had to remember that, ultimately, I control my outcome. I'm responsible for handling my own problems. The world didn't fall apart.

I am also remembering how to entertain myself. This blog is actually part of that. I have always enjoyed writing. I'm a wordy gal.

Heard of FOMO? I learned about it thanks to Facebook. This weekend, I don't have it. I'm at peace while drawing imaginary friends with my son, helping my mom with cookies, getting The Boy's hair cut, going to church, ironing, boiling eggs, going to Mass.... I'm not worrying that we're not sky diving, attending festivals, and anything else you can imagine. I look forward to seeing the pictures Monday, but I'm not comparing myself to others today. Anxiety managed.

Don't misunderstand. The Boy is enjoying YouTube videos while I type right now. My husband is upstairs sleeping off a potential illness. We're not suddenly bonding all day long, and I'm okay with that, too. Four years ago, I worked hard to encourage independence and space because I was too sick from cancer and chemotherapy to be engaged in anything at all. Independence and space were necessary goals. But now, there's a happy relaxed layer of love to it all. I think we're going to be better for it.


  1. Anne,
    There are times where I go away, too, and I have contemplated exiting Facebook completely. The hard part for me is that I have many friends and family members that I care about who I would not be able to contact outside of it, which sounds like a similar issue here.
    Each time I move or suffer a personal setback, macbook has been a place I turn to distract myself when I should be plugging in to life.
    If this past year has taught me anything, it's that the people I love need me, and Facebook indeed brings me no sense of accomplishment and a lot of regret about wasted time.
    It's tough. I wonder what people would accomplish without all of these social media sites? I wonder would we be more compassionate or less? Would we be more honest or less? Would we be more judgmental or less? I suppose it depends on the person.
    I am trying to find a balance between keeping the site for writing connections and to eventually connect people to the blog I hope to revitalize.
    But in the meantime, I am finding that I too am slowly moving away from the thing that distracts me from life.

    1. I would truly miss a core group of friends if I gave up Facebook entirely. It's my only method of keeping in touch with them. Now, that core group is also filled with incredibly talented writers, but they also have incredibly full lives. I can't, in good conscience, press them to return to a routine blogging schedule. So, we stay connected on Facebook. Still, I remember that a time existed, before the Internet, when daily life might not have been simpler, but had a measure more substance, more personal responsibility, human connection was somehow richer. I miss that. I'm afraid it's going away and that scares me.


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