Yesterday I had lunch with my good friend Stephanie. She is the creator if Deviantly Domesticated, which is a great online community about living apart from the 9-5 norm. A lot of the posts are about femininity, domestic living, relationships, finances, and of course awesome creative projects. One thing she did recently was a project called Air.Head, where she decided to put her brain on a diet from social media. The biggest step she took was to shut down her Facebook page for a couple of months. Since then she has come back on, but usually only interacts as her business page and doesn’t see most of the news feed that pops up.
I have tried this experiment a couple of times, but I usually fall off the wagon within a week. To me, Facebook has been such an integral part of my life for so many years that it has been really difficult to give it up. My husband and I watched The Social Network earlier this week, which was a really fun (though supposedly inaccurate) account of how Facebook came to be. I was laughing because I remember being one of the first 100,000 people on the site when it was still called The Facebook. I recognized a lot of the screenshots from the early versions and I even giggled when Zuckerburg introduced “The Wall,” because I remember the pandemonium that broke out within 3 hours of it launching. I have actually been a member of Facebook longer than I have been married. Facebook is a very regular part of my day. Some people get their cereal in the morning and read the paper. I read Facebook. Some people check their voicemails at red lights behind the wheel; I check Facebook on my phone. When I want to know how someone’s ultrasound went, I check Facebook. During lunch yesterday though, I realized that I really do need to take a step back for awhile.
Over time Facebook has become a substitute of genuine connection with people, not just for myself, but for a lot of the world. I don’t talk on the phone with people very often. Emails are even less useful. If I need someone to know something quickly, I either text them or Facebook them; usually the latter as most of my friends have the app on their phones and receive notifications right away. In my quest for genuine connection to a true friend, I have lost sight of what that genuine connection looks like and somehow replaced being “friends” on Facebook with face-to-face conversations, phone calls, and other forms of communication. (Seriously, when was the last time you received a hand written letter from someone that wasn’t a thank you note for the crockpot/toaster set for their wedding?) I have almost 500 friends on Facebook, but I feel truly connected to only a few of them. The rest, sometimes I really care about what is in their newsfeed, but most of the time I don’t. The ones I already am connected with I see outside of my screen enough that I know what is really going on in their lives.
Add to this the “drama” that seems to occur on the site. People “stalk” one another (and I have to admit I’m a BIG Facebook stalker), write comments that they would never say to the person’s face, and add a bunch of garbage to the screen on a daily basis. I really don’t care what a lot of people had for dinner, especially if it was Taco John’s. The cryptic messages started to drive me insane. I hate reading things like “What a terrible experience,” with no explanation of what was wrong or willingness to communicate any more. I have seen families have very large fights on Walls, tearing them apart over some stupid website because “so-and-so wrote this”. I am tired of dirty laundry being left out for the world to see. I am tired of feeling a bigger strain on my relationships and feeling “left out” when I see my whole “group” of friends went to go see a movie and dinner together and never bothered to call me. I am tired of a big chunk of my day being wasted on a single website that some college kid came up with in his dorm room and is now laughing his way to the bank at what a bunch of suckers we all are. In other words, I hit a breaking point.
Sitting at a deli shop with Steph, I actually started laughing at myself because the phrase “I am just sick of people” came out of my mouth. I laughed because I LOVE people. I love to be social and in the middle of the party and always know what’s going on. But the truth is, I am just tired of trying to maintain so many connections with people that just aren’t genuine any more. It is utterly exhausting trying to be good friends with so many people, especially when a lot of those people really aren’t investing anything with me any more. Deciding to take a break from Facebook feels like a very big relief to me. Granted, I’m only 30 hours in. But, it was really nice to get up this morning and sit on the couch with my husband and kids and watch Saturday morning cartoons. We worked on building our compost bin this afternoon after a 3 hour planning session about it. I got caught up on the 5 blogs I actually read (the rest need to get deleted from my blogger feed) and my twitter updates took about a minute. Time waiting for Dave and the kids in the hardware store was not spent checking my phone, but looking around at the new spring items decorating the storefront. Already I know that a couple of hours today were not wasted; instead they were spent on things I actually want to accomplish. In other words, it has been a very, very good day. I am looking forward to more of my future without Facebook and instead focusing more of my time and energy fostering healthy relationships in a truly connected way. As for tonight, I’m going to spend the rest of it with my hubby, so I will see you all later.