As humans, we have a shared existence at times. The feelings that well up within us and crash over us are not unique to us as individuals - there are not many among us who have not felt the pangs for the summer sunset in the middle of dreary grey, cold winters, nor those who are foreign to the way that sweat forms upon our brows as we labor beneath the blazing sun. Many of us know the feelings of longing, of hunger, of thirst, and of satisfaction. But above all of these things, I believe that we all share something even more basic to the human condition - a question, one that looms deep within our very souls, and the tremendous wonder at moments in our lives - why on all of God's green earth do we have a facebook account?
This question, although it seems ancient for all of the times this river of thought has driven a path by coursing through our very souls, is relatively new on the planet in the scheme of things. Perhaps you have wondered it yourself recently.
What makes us wrestle over it? What holds us back from a clean break? Why do we cling? Why do we wish it gone? Why are we tugged in both directions?
I cannot answer that for you, but what I know I will offer for your consideration.
But before I do, I want to tell you of my relationship with facebook.
It started out really early. I was one of the early adopters. I have a younger sister and younger family members who joined when it was advertised as a college yearbook. As soon as it was open to non-college students at the end of 2006, I jumped in. I was fascinated with being able to have a page that I could make and post whatever status I wanted while also being able to hop around and visit people I knew virtually. What a novelty! What a genius and fun idea! I was excited to check in on a regular basis to see how everyone was doing, to look at their pictures, and to have a view into a corner of their lives - I was exploring that interesting new balance of socializing through a screen.
I loved seeing new people finally come aboard, people that I had known from high school or college that I hadn't seen in a long time and didn't have contact information for. I loved seeing that they had children and that they were happy and that some of them looked exactly the same as they did when I knew them. It was fun to be able to see how the teenage person I knew grew into a mature adult (for most of them, anyway) with jobs and adventures. It was nice to see that they had made it and what they had made of themselves.
Years and years later, more and more people joined the party. And then one day, The Thing happened. I got a friend request from my mother. My mom was on facebook? My mom? For real? And then my dad joined. And then my grandmother-in-law. The community was looking very different and my "audience" was spread from friends out to family and over to people I worked with and everyone else I had ever known on earth.
It was fine for a few years and then the arguments started. Some people were really political and it seemed that this was the place to try to further your political party with your undying support. It was a forum for discussion, and for the most part in the beginning, it was fairly civil, although I am sure people felt some heat in their bellies when they were arguing their cause.
I'm not sure exactly what the line was, but I watched it happen right in front of my eyes. I watched people behave differently to others because they were behind a screen and then removed the person from the information that they were connecting to on the monitor. It was as if all social rules were off of the table and you could just open up and say whatever you wanted to because it wasn't in real time, and it wasn't in your voice, it was only text, and that isn't a big deal. I watched people remove personhood from those who were called their friends so that they could argue perpetually about different things.
At some point, I decided to delete my account. I wasn't happy with all of the crazy and it really just didn't feel worth it. After all, if I was looking for connection, this certainly wasn't it.
After a few more years went by, I decided that I missed seeing people and I would just jump in and keep it fun, check in only occasionally, and use it as a way to help others with health coaching and my business. It was okay, but it wasn't how it used to be. I didn't get the kind of personal interactions that I was looking for, but that was because I wasn't putting it out there on my side. It was boring, but also kind of mean out there. It was a place where I used to scroll through and make sure I was caught up on everyone, but it became a place where I couldn't be bothered to even read more than a few updates. I would only comment on something if it seemed like something that was impossible for me to personally neglect. I checked on it less and less until I deactivated it for a few months at a time.
I loved Facebook for the advertisement of my book and for a place I could share myself being silly in videos or peeking in on long lost friends, but it was really losing its luster. I wanted to have a place to share my writing, but even that seemed like it couldn't possibly be worth the garbage I had to dig through to get it out there, not to mention the way that we are being mined for data, violated on privacy, and advertised to in order to line the pockets of Zuck and his homies.
Finally, I decided - it was time. What it was taking was more than what it was giving, and it had run its course.
Last month, I clicked "Delete Account". If you have done this before, you know that it isn't a swift process. They send you a message letting you know that for the next 30 days, your account will be in limbo. It will hover between heaven and earth, accessible for you if you will just simply log in and ask for forgiveness and get back to it. This time, I counted down the days until it would come true and everything would be really gone for good.
Today the sun sets on the last day of me being part of a facebook world. It was fun while it lasted, and that era had some good things, but it is over now. It is not worth feeling angst and revulsion over people that I think I really like in real life. It is not worth the data mining. It is not worth feeling like I'm making my stress level go to 100 from looking at people's opinions and arguments. It is not worth being part of a place that censors information. It is just not worth it. Life is better without it.
I'm glad to be on the other side. Maybe you would like it, too?
Peace, love, and freedom,