I’m no longer on Facebook. I was for many years, but I couldn’t put up with it any longer, as I derived zero pleasure from it, yet couldn’t stop looking at it. I realize that I’m leaving behind the ability to see photos of my childhood friends’ children, engagement announcements from acquaintances and photos of your gourmet dinner.
But I won’t be missed. With only an occasional photo comment and the requisite birthday thank you, I’ve kept my Facebook footprint to a minimum. Facebook operates more or less as a left-out-in-the-open diary for a generation whose inherent need for reassurances and “likes” has become too much for me to process. I had been contemplating the move for a while — when creeping around on Facebook became too laborious, I conceded that it had nothing left to offer me.
Facebook birthday recognition is the lowest form of communication; the convenience removes all meaning from the gesture. But still, I put off deleting my account for the better part of a month, waiting until my birthday so I could count the number of people who extend a pleasantry. I’m a product of my society.
The vast majority of my Facebook friends are not actual friends, but people who I’ll never see again (or at least hope to never see again). Mostly, they are acquaintances of real friends, and nothing against them, I just don’t care to see what they’re doing.
My feelings culminated one day as I was scrolling my newsfeed for any semblance of intelligence, when a rather long and emotionally charged post punched me in the gut. The poster was a woman — one whom I never met. Maybe I met her once; I was drunk and can’t remember. Despite our curious "friendship," I have gotten a very intimate look into her every thought, pictures included.
I’ve come to know her son, and his likes and dislikes. I’ve been able to follow his pursuits of athletic glory and felt his disappointment as his efforts were met with failure. His pre-pubescent strength will be needed more now than ever.
Her status update detailed a breakup with someone who I don’t think is her son’s father. She referred to him as a “monster.” In any event, they are no longer together.
While I was initially sad for her, I remembered that I don’t know this person and that I shouldn’t care about his person.
We allow our successes to be measured in little blue thumbs. The realization that drunk photos aren’t a great look is starting to permeate. We’re starting to put bottles and cans down, or at least, out of frame.
It is ridiculous that we consider our lives interesting enough to inundate one another with constant mindlessness. With each subsequent headline, a distance run on a treadmill or a picture of a sonogram, we regress. Self-restraint needs to be a more prevalent. If we can suppress the urge to post every minutia bouncing around our indebted brains, we might be able to grow.
Leaving Facebook was hard — I had to Google how to do it. Facebook allows its defectors two weeks to come crawling back before exile. But I won’t relapse; I’ve been liberated. It’s nice not knowing what my fake friends are up to.
The next time you’re about to put something on Facebook, don’t. Shower yourself with anonymity. Try starting your day this way instead of letting everyone know your coffee order.
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