Preface: Since I am the most guilty of not reading long posts that don't include photos, I've included some of my Facebook profile pictures strewn throughout. This is: narcissistic, a great way for you to see my obsession with animals, and an accurate documentation of how often I gain and lose weight in my face. ENJOY!
In 2006, I'd heard from a high school friend up in Ohio that there was this cool thing called, "The Facebook." I was at the University of Kentucky in the dorms at the time. Quickly, I discovered that it was already present amongst my own campus peers and I joined. I don't think that I knew anyone initially. It seemed entirely normal to just add strangers as friends? In retrospect, I am not sure what the fun of that was. Not to mention, it was really, supremely awkward to see each other on campus and acknowledge our online acquaintanceship by way of furtive glances. I've always loved being a part of "the fun new thing" that people love. THAT'S GOOD AND BAD, BY THE WAY.
I remember the beginning, but I don't remember when I started to get tired of it. My love and hate for Facebook ebbed and flowed. Sometimes it bred discontentment in my life when I was in a difficult season. Most often it was comforting to me to see how my friends and family were doing. Most of the time, I'd lose count of how often I'd check it throughout the day. When I realized I could disappear from time to time by deactivating my account, it always felt like a breath of fresh air. Initially, there were a couple of days when I'd have to learn a new routine without Facebook - but I'd always end up enjoying it.
The most obvious of solutions would be to "just set boundaries and look at it less." I think that's brilliant and there are many people more disciplined than I am that exhibit such self control. I, however, tend to require more radical severance in order to produce change. Moderation is something I'll be trying to figure out for the rest of my life, because I have a tendency toward the extreme in a lot of situations.
Eventually, I realized I was friends with a lot of people I have no contact or interaction with in real life (or at least not anymore). The people I really wanted to keep up with were the people I would just call, text, or email. I'd compulsively check it on my phone and leave knowing random facts about a person's day. There was some freedom in remembering that I don't need to know everything everyone is thinking. It seemed more and more evident that the easiest thing to do was to remove myself.
In November (right around Election Day) I read something on Twitter that said, "Facebook is like the political beaches of Normandy right now." It made me laugh, because it was the best description of the chaos amongst my newsfeed. Everyone yelling about the political victory or injustice they'd faced in the resulting election. This, for some reason, was my turning point. It's when I decided I wanted to get rid of it. Not like deactivate it, but DELETE IT. The best way I could describe it was that it just made my head noisy. I wanted to think about and do other things and no longer have it as an option to distract me. I don't think social media is bad, I just decided I needed to choose which I liked best and figure out a balance from there.
Deleting your Facebook account is no easy feat. It's recommended that you download your archives beforehand, so that you have all of your photo albums and videos, and other info in case you ever wanted to join again. When you download your archive --- there are records of every time you've logged in and out of Facebook (down to the minute), where you logged in, every wall post, every friend's phone number associated with their account (even if you've opted to not post it publicly), and that's just barely scratching the surface. It wasn't entirely surprising to me how much had been recorded, but it was nice in the sense that I felt more confident in my decision.
I'm interested in what it means to do social media well. It has to be an active pursuit of figuring out the balance. The balance of when to be honest without sharing too much, or making sure you're being as brave in real life as you are when you're on your soapbox sharing an opinion behind a screen.
Here's some of what's different for me now:
Events: I rarely checked those even when I was on Facebook. If there's a party, someone will email or text me. (Or, they don't invite me and I really never knew about it, so whatever).
Birthdays: This one's hard. BECAUSE I DON'T KNOW ANYONE'S BIRTHDAY ANYMORE. Also, it's going to be so sad on my birthday this year when only five people tell me Happy Birthday.
Life Happenings: A lot of people just consider Facebook the free for all and final stop for birth announcements, engagements, and weddings. I am out of the loop on a lot of goings on. "Oh, it was on Facebook" is the most typical response I hear when I am surprised to discover a new and exciting thing about someone. Sometimes I ask Bryan or my friends if anyone is pregnant that I should know about before I run into them and wonder what the heck is going on. I'll admit, I miss that aspect. It was fun to log in and see that someone had posted a sonogram with a smiley faced caption. I love stuff like that.
And let's be honest, sometimes it's just fun to creep on people. (OR AM I THE ONLY ONE?)
What I Don't Miss:
+ Farmville/Bubble Blitz/FourSquare/All stupid game invitations
+ Political rants
+ Status updates like: "GOING TO GO MAKE A SANDWICH, LOLZ."
+ Overlapping social media posts (most of my newsfeed at the end was a lot of Twitter and Pinterest updates).
+ Group messages
+ The endless "I HATE THE NEW FACEBOOK LAYOUT" posts
I don't think Facebook is bad, at all. (THAT'S TECHNICALLY HOW I MET MY HUSBAND). Between a blog, twitter, pinterest, and instagram, I just think it's safe to say I have enough other distractions. SIMPLIFY WHENEVER YOU CAN. Know that if you delete Facebook, you're really not missing much. And if you are, you won't even know about it anyway ;) It might feel like shaving your head at first.
It's been about five months and I still don't miss it. I think I'm doing people a lot of favors, because if I were still on Facebook, I'd probably only be posting photos of my cat and I'd probably be hidden from their newsfeed anyway. It's a win-win situation for all of us.
What has your Facebook experience like?