So I’m deleting my Facebook. I’ve known other people who’ve done it recently and it’s a surprisingly controversial topic. Such a huge part of our lives are documented on Facebook and a huge part of our (at least my) days are spent consuming the posts of our hundreds of friends and “friends.” The site has become such a normal part of life that it has become exceedingly weird to not have an account, kind of like being vegan or wearing Vibram FiveFingers to class.
I’ve been toying with the idea of deleting, or at least deactivating, my account for a while now, but haven’t been able to go through with it for whatever reason. Some psychologists have actually given this a name: FOMO, or Fear Of Missing Out. I have this gut reliance on the network to entertain me, inform me of upcoming events I might not hear of otherwise, and keep up with close friends and not-so-close acquaintances. It definitely has benefits. However, I’ve reached an internal agreement that the negative consequences far outweigh those reasons for staying, at least for me.
With Facebook, I’m able to find and connect with old friends, keep up with important milestones in their lives, and let them know what is happening in mine.
With that aside, I’ve come to realize that while the above is how Facebook was sold to me, it has become almost something else entirely.
1. Facebook is a wonderful distraction of my time. Even if I was able to restrain myself from checking the newsfeed every 15 minutes (which I’m definitely not), the entirety of the business seems to be about keeping us on as long as possible, as frequently as possible.
2. The site is quite literally addicting. My already distraction-prone, feeble mind can’t possibly resist the wonderful temptation that is ever more notifications in the toolbar. I’ve recently begun to catch myself checking Facebook on my phone during conversations with others, almost unconsciously, even after deleting the app on my iPhone. I wake up in the morning and check Facebook. When I’m on vacation, at a concert, or even cooking a fucking stir-fry, my mind automatically thinks about potential statuses or which photos to post instead of actually enjoying the thing I’m going to post about. When writing a paper for school, I probably check Facebook every 3 sentences or so. I’ll be studying at a coffee shop and be thinking of witty statuses to post instead of working. “Bottomless coffee and bottomless studying at Mozart’s. Good view at least…” 25 likes?! Hell yeah, more distractions! I’ve become a rat pressing a lever to get another morphine dose every time I log on.
3. Facebook tries to make it easier to connect with other people, but ends up just making noise. If it was used as a tool to connect with others, and then actually meet up with them in person, that might be different. However, it has become the connection and the actual contact as well.
4. I’ve checked it 4 times since I started writing this.
5. I’m tired of the unspoken pressure to curate an impeccable online presence. My “About” page seems terribly fabricated and not really a good indicator of who I am. Not that any of it is necessarily untrue, but why, for instance, do I need to list Amartya Sen, Seneca, and the Dalai Lama under “Inspirational People?” No one else cares and I’m probably just doing it to show off that I’ve read some nonfiction. Are the five books I have listed really my five favorite books? Probably not. Oh well, they’re what I’ve put that portray how I want myself to be portrayed online. Facebook is like a crowded personal infomercial, and I’m tired of that. I’m more than my Facebook page and I’m tired of the identity dissonance inherent with maintaining an online “profile.”
6. I’m tired of hearing about your political views. And your cat. Sorry.
7. I don’t like how weirdly difficult it is to ditch Facebook. It’s like breaking up with an actual person and that’s not okay with me any more.
Please, please don’t feel offended about any of the above. It’s mostly my pointless ranting and probably just another waste of my time. I’m guilty of all of the things I’ve complained about and more. However, for personal reasons, I must divorce myself from this website. If I find in a few months that my life is significantly less fulfilling without it, I’ll likely make a new profile. Don’t count on it though; the few people I know who’ve given up their accounts haven’t regretted it at all and haven’t looked back.