Facebook…If you are reading this, I have already made my decision to say goodbye. I have lost my desire to be in a relationship with you. In fact, somewhere along the way, I think our relationship has taken a turn for the worse and gotten a little bizarre. It started off good…a few friends that were “real” friends in “real” life. You helped me to keep in touch with people, share photos and silly kid stories with friends and loved ones out of state, strengthen bonds within already existing friendships.
But then, things started to get weird. Friends of friends started friending me, people from so long ago they were a distant memory, people I didn’t really know and never talked to! And I didn’t want to be “mean”, so I accepted. And I started noticing how other people lived, at least how they projected or I perceived that they lived…how many times they worked out, went on vacation, what they ate for breakfast, their thoughts on parenting, how their marriage was going…even public Facebook accusations of infidelity (?!) and without knowing it, I started to spread myself a little thinner. I subconsciously started comparing myself, my life, my kids, my house and then for some reason, I didn’t feel quite as good about my life, or at times, perhaps went the other way and became shamefully prideful. But I brushed it off and vowed to compare less.
Then I started thinking about how odd it is that I know who’s loved one had died, or who was going through a painful divorce or issues with their kids…really intimate and hard life stages. Yet, if I ran into them in a store, I would NEVER have brought these issues up. It just wouldn’t be appropriate based on the lack of a shared, “real” relationship. I might even change directions to avoid seeing and greeting them. But yet, I knew such intimate details about their lives. Very strange and so unnatural…
And I realized that these same people that I don’t really know, know so much about my life (and I even consider myself a guarded fb user!)…my kids, their names, our struggles with autism. Again things that might feel forward or intrusive if half of my Facebook “friends” were to ask.
None of these thoughts are new…they have all been stated much more eloquently by critics of social media. I’m not sure what officially brought on this decision. Maybe it’s the fact that I turn 40 this month and have far less tolerance for BS. Maybe it’s because I’m so introverted and am perhaps becoming more so with age. And maybe it’s being sickened by seeing it carried out ad nauseam in my teenagers and sincerely fearing the relational and communicative deficiencies of future generations.
I think all of the above is true. But I think I’m also coming to grips with the fact that I am an “old soul” trapped in a young-ish body. My husband and I have boxes of letters from when we were dating. I prefer a hardback to a kindle, driving to flying, and walking to driving. I cherish being home with my kids and being available to help my husband. I don’t have a bucket list, nowhere I want to visit before I die. I just want to live a long and happy life with my husband and watch our kids and grandkids grow. Perhaps some would say this is settling or a lack of ambition. I think that has been my fear. But I have realized how inverted and backward we have become…how fearful we are of simplicity, of a life “merely” lived well. It seems we are losing the ability to solely cherish things in our heart without having to broadcast. Perhaps we are afraid to just BE, without feeling like we have to be something great. As I jokingly (but also very seriously) say to my kids, “If it’s not on snap chat, did it even happen?!”
I recognize that what I’m saying is not for everyone, that social media can, in fact, be a great way to connect people. There is no judgment or condemnation in my decision. It’s just that for me, I feel the need to part ways for my sake and as an example to my children; that maybe, just maybe this whole social media thing is a little strange. Perhaps it’s time to step back from technological advancements and connections, slow our lives, recalibrate, have real conversations and let go of ones that aren’t. It’s a decision for me that has given a tremendous amount of peace and freedom and space to breathe that I didn’t realize was even missing.
Sometimes I wonder why I didn’t do this sooner, why I’ve drug this departure out for so long. I think the biggest reason is fear. I worry that if I’m not present on social media, people will think I’m weird, snobbish, or that I’m trying to make a trendy statement. But mostly, I worry that if I’m not on social media I might truly just disappear and be forgotten about. Perhaps that is true. My circle is quite small and might get even smaller. But the people that are in my life will be there by choice, not out of guilt or compulsion. I don’t want my life to be measured by the number of “friends,” the number of likes, the number of shares.
To my fb friends…there are a great many of you that I have enjoyed getting to know better and reconnecting with through Facebook…your humor, your insights, your hearts. Please understand that this is not a desire to become a hermit or escape from relationships, but rather a desire to deepen existing friendships in a real and authentic way. I believe you all have my phone number, or at least know how to get it. You can also follow my blog…I don’t write often but if I do have something to say, it will be found here.
Goodbye Facebook…it’s been “real”.