It seems as though just about everyone has a facebook page. If you don’t have a facebook page then you’re out of the loop, so to speak. People look at you funny when you tell them you’re not on facebook. “What do you mean you’re not on facebook? I thought everyone was on facebook? How will we be able to be friends? How will I be able to invite you to my parties?” It’s sort of like the way people look at you when you tell them you don’t watch television. To briefly digress, I haven’t watched it in quite sometime now and honestly wouldn’t know any of the television or movie stars if they walked past me on the street.
In my circles of ‘friends’ I can only think of two people who don’t have a facebook page. Just about every company out there wants you to ‘Like’ them on facebook. The site has literally begun to take over the world. It’s a mass marketers dream come true. Where else can you reach 500 million people at once? Yes, facebook has 500 million users these days. They hold personal information and demographics of 500 million people in this world. Is that not scary information in itself?
A few days ago I decided to deactivate my facebook account for a bit. No more 'pokes', 'friend requests', 'game requests', 'private messages', 'wall posts', 'status updates' or 'event invites'. I’d been thinking about it for a while and making note of how it affects me both in positive and negative ways. I’ve also noticed how it affects those around me and it seems like there are way more negatives then there are positives associated with being on the site. My decision to deactivate my account has stemmed from quite a few reasons.
For instance, just yesterday I was talking to someone about taking a break from the site when she said that she’s only on there to see photos of her nieces and nephews and other family members. I suddenly felt very sad for her. When did we stop sharing photos with each other via email or snail mail? Personal interactions with family members and friends have fallen to the way side because people are too ‘busy’ with work and stuff yet we find time to upload photos to facebook? It just doesn’t make much sense to me.
I’m not saying I haven’t been guilty of it myself. I’ve just finally realized the affect it's had on me and felt the disconnection. The site has become sort of a substitute for relationships. It seems like facebook has changed my way of thinking and I have forgotten that there are other ways to communicate. In all honesty, I used to think that if I posted it on facebook then all of my friends would know at once what’s happening and in a way that’s true but it’s not true of everyone and it’s awfully impersonal. I miss those days when friends would email me, call me or sit and have coffee with me to catch up on our lives. I miss doing the same with them.
Also, the anxiety and stress that I get from being on facebook just isn’t worth it. I felt a need to check the news feed constantly. I couldn’t miss anything. It was like I was somehow obligated to keep up with my friend’s status updates because, well, they were my friends. Then, when people “unfriended” me it would be a hit to my self-esteem and I not only wanted to know who “unfriended” me but why. Was it something I said, did, didn’t do? At one point someone blocked me and when I discovered that fact, after the drama of asking some other friends if they could still see them, I was upset about it for days.
What if I wanted to ‘unfriend’ someone? This in itself created anxiety because I didn’t want to start any drama and was it really important because it was facebook, for crying out loud! It’s just a web site. It’s not real life. It’s a virtual life. If I knew that person in real life would we be friends or would we just be acquaintances? If we were acquaintances would I share all of this information with them? Do they think they know me after looking at my facebook page? Do I think I know them after looking at there’s?
Holy crap. When did the definition of ‘friend’ get lost, too?
Then there’s the way it creates more anxiety around intimate relationships. Aside from the fact that everyone instantly knows when you’ve committed to someone or have just broken up with someone you have to deal with either remaining ‘friends’ on facebook or ‘unfriending’ each other.
When my last girlfriend broke up with me we were friends on facebook for a little while after the break up. We hid each other but ended up going to each other’s page just to see what was happening. I felt like a stalker when I went to her page. Like I was peeking in on a private conversation, one that didn’t include me. I fully admit that I was looking for answers that, at the time, I felt I deserved. Looking back on it now, it was all crazy making and incredibly unhealthy. How easy it was for me to go there with that access and sort of disconnect.
Finally she ended up “unfriending” me so we could both get on with our lives. It is called healing. I do believe that sometimes you need that distance when a relationship ends. As hard as it is to have, specially when you’re the one being broken up with, it’s important that you have it. It’s what we used to do before the days of facebook. Remember those days?
Then there’s the anxiety created when I see photos of friends hanging out somewhere where I wasn’t invited and I wonder why I wasn’t invited and are we still friends and if we’re still friends then why am I not there in those photos and on, and on, and on. Envy, jealousy, feeling left out or feeling like the fool are not feelings I want to encounter and deal with that often. I don’t even want to admit that I feel them but I do. I know there’s more to the story that I’m not seeing but all I see are photos of friends hanging out and having a good time without me and that’s where my mind goes instantly. It’s crazy making, I tell you!
So, I decided that it was time to take a break from the crazy making. When something that is my choice to do takes up that much of my time, energy and emotions in a negative way then I also have the choice to stop doing it. To step back from it and regain my own ideas and work on deepening the friendships that I have with those who really do want to be friends with me and visa versa.
I'll most likely be blogging about my life after facebook, in case you're curious. I'm interested in seeing how different it will be and whether or not I'll miss it. It's been two and a half days since I deactivated my account and so far, I feel much more at peace. I've gotten much more reading and writing done, as well. I think this will be a good thing for me and my creativity.