So, I have shut down my Facebook account, at least for now. Yep, I’ve disconnected from the other world. OMG!
It wasn’t a big moment, it didn’t come with any anxiety or angst or questions. I simply hopped into bed the other night and instead of turning my head down to sleep, I turned my laptop on to check Facebook. And that was it. When every ounce of my physical and energetic being wanted to sleep, the will to stop my curiosity from checking my Facebook newsfeed couldn’t be beat. So, without any hesitation, or thought, I deactivated.
I was not a daily status updater, but I posted almost weekly. However, it wasn’t what I was posting that really bothered me; it was all the status updates I had to hold myself back from updating. Very subtly, I noticed that every funny or odd or obscure scenario that happened in my flesh and blood world ended with me thinking “This would be a good status update”.
Most recently I wanted to post a photograph I had taken of a suggestive note I found on my fridge from a guy who regularly does work in my apartment. He is hot – sexy, charming, kind and his ass looks awesome in maintenance pants. We’ve been flirting, mostly face to face but lately he has left little notes in my apartment when he has done work I needed.
I actually took a picture of the most recent one to post on Facebook. Why? Because, why not? This would warrant a lot of feedback. Affirmation that I was, indeed, engaging an audience. And that’s why I deactivated. Because it was attention seeking. Indeed, I didn’t put it out on Facebook, being very mindful of my desire to do so, but it did start my questioning of this impulse, and the entire culture that is social networking – for me. How was I defining my privacy? Or, how was I protecting it? Moreover, what kind of attention did I need?
The word privacy started to feel like an antiquated word.
I also began to notice that with my constant connection with the online world, I was feeling increasingly disconnected to a more ‘peaceful’ self and the more human tendencies toward boredom, or daydreaming – which, if left to linger long enough, start to turn into creative impulses and out of that can come action. When, in a hiatus of time, I could have been reaching for a book, or a newspaper, or simply sitting and relaxing during my days (and nights), I found myself reaching for my laptop or smartphone to read, and get lost in, my friends newsfeed and photos.
Even if I was busy working, I kept a tab open for Facebook and a moment of joy would filter through the determined focus I had while working when I saw the (1) next to the Facebook name, alerting me that someone had, indeed, engaged with me. Reason enough to move my attention elsewhere for a moment, which lasted an hour.
Not only that, I found myself developing passive aggression toward my ‘friends’ who post photographs of their children posing as young adults with captions like ‘4 going on 24’ – of course they fucking are now that you are turning them into toddler Abercrombie models and sharing it with your 500 strong audience (it’s just so easy to access that feeling!)
Besides all the voyeuristic and narcisstic tendencies it triggered in me, it also became another message center. Recently, I was organizing a get together with an older friend of mine who is a freelance worker and had time constraints on the day we were trying to get together. The conversation went like this:
Me: “Why don’t you text me”
Her: “Oh, I have no idea how to use text; you know how I am with technology”
Me: “Ok, well I’ll leave a voice message and let you know my time and then you can call me back when you’re done.”
Her: “I never check my voice messages these days – for days they stay there”
Me: “fine, well then let’s email and sort out a time”
Her: “I am terrible on email too. You know what, just Facebook me, I check that regularly now”
Me: “ok, great!”
Ok, great! Just another thing I have to check.
Of course, scientists and marketing experts are having a field day studying the effects of using Facebook, and other sites like Twitter. From the study that says Facebook lowers grades, to the one that says all Facebook users are jerks and then one that suggest Facebook releases oxytocin, the feel good hormone. Oxytocin is the same hormone which is released after engaging with someone you love in an embrace, or a good old romp in the sack. “Hmmm, update my Facebook status or shag?” Wait, don’t answer that, people are probably doing both!
I received some interesting reactions from people when I told them I deactivated; “Wow” was a common one. “Extreme” was another one. “Proud of you” a few people quipped. One friend deactivated along with me, inspired by my action and another confessed that she has been on a 3 week fast from it because she started to notice it was just making her unhappy. I want to be clear here that this is not me making a statement.
Despite all the conversation around Facebook and how it is changing the way we interact, I love it. It’s brilliant. It is an easy and efficient way to communicate and stay connected. Much like I think alcohol is a brilliant way to have fun, loosen up and also communicate easily (and quite often efficiently). Occasionally however, it’s good to create some space and do a cleanse off the booze and I wouldn’t leave an open bottle of red wine around the house, so I’ve decided to not leave the cork loose on my Facebook account either.
I’ll miss the immediate silence after my friends start to tell a story only to have me say “oh yeah, I read that on your Facebook status”. I’ll miss knowing what some people are cooking for dinner and how their kids lost a front tooth, or their ex is a scumbag. I might even miss my peeps reminding me to have a ‘sparkly day’. Most significantly, I’ll miss stalking all my ex-boyfriends and their new girlfriends now that was one of the better uses of Facebook as a time waster to avoid producing work that I would feel good about.
Oh, and let’s not forget all the profile photos! I am so glad I can’t be tagged anymore – my blue steal was getting old and I haven’t been able to find a new one. I have come to the realization that I, in fact, am not a model – and no amount of self- portrait, arm length shot taken at the perfect angle in instagram was going to change that. Who knew?
And what about my birthday next week? I will miss all the many updates from people I never speak to but I won’t miss feeling obliged to have to respond with ‘thank you so much for all the love, it’s just amazing you all remembered’,
But recognition is recognition right? No matter what form it takes. I have to admit, I loved my birthday on Facebook, it’s like the 400 strong party I always imagined I’d have one day…without the hangover, the vodka tears and the walk of shame the next morning. But, maybe that’s what I want.
Connections that end in Vodka tears, hangovers and most definitely the walk of shame I mean.
Distraction will always be around for me, for all of us. Last night, instead of calling up my sister’s Facebook profile to see if there were any new pictures of the kids, or general updates, I ended up just calling her instead. We talked for close to an hour, laughing and catching up in a way we hadn’t in a long time. Not because of avoidance but because our fix had been from other sources.
I’d rather be distracted by my sister’s real world laugh any day – the LOL just doesn’t cut it anymore.
I thought I’d have some form of remorse, or even an impulse to just check it again the next day. It’s been almost a week and the space from having another thing to check is really freeing. I am sure I’ll get back on it, probably to delete a lot of my information – let’s not get started on the fact that Facebook now owns all your photos – but I have to admit I feel a lot less anxious about what’s going on with everyone. An anxiousness I didn’t even know existed until I can’t access it anymore.
So, of course, the irony of this is that I can’t Facebook this blog out to my network – which generally brings a lot of traffic. But you’re welcome to LOL!
What are your thoughts on Facebook? How do you use it? Do you feel like you could use a break from it?