I deleted my Facebook in March 2014.
In the three years since, I have been met with so many incredulous, “You’re not on Facebook?” questions that I have memorized my standard reply – why I need to explain myself for a choice I make is something entirely beyond me, but given that it’s the Facebook age, everyone needs a reason for everything they say and do. Hopefully, my writing about this today will stop some of those questions in the future.
I’m not writing this post to encourage you to delete your account – that’s something you can decide on your own. I’m writing to encourage you to give a little more thought to how you use Facebook and how it has changed your life… I’ll give you a hint, it’s in more negative ways than positive.
Also, I need to disclaim here: I love social media!! I was an early adopter of Facebook back in the days of needing a college email address to join. Twitter and Instagram are my absolute jam. I totally recognize the importance of networking for jobs today. And I’ve been blogging on one website or another since 2002. That being said, the harmful environment that Facebook has created is something I am so happy to have left behind (also, I’m very much not a fan of Snapchat’s culture, but that’s another blog post).
The first big, crappy realization I had came about 10 months after I went through Facebook’s (unnecessarily convoluted) deletion process. My birthday came… and went. The people I consider my inner circle texted me birthday wishes, as I expected… and that was it. After a few minutes of moping with my now-husband, I realized that while I was hurt more people didn’t remember my birthday, I was more disappointed that Facebook had conditioned me (and all of us) to expect every acquaintance ever to type the requisite wish. And what amazes me even more is how, until Facebook came on the scene… we all found some way to remember each other’s birthdays! Why does having something pop up on your screen give you an excuse to forget important facts about your friends?
The same goes for Big Life Events. I recently got to catch up with a former coworker. She stopped by my store to visit, and had no idea I got married – the last we saw each other, we were in the height of our house hunt. The rush of newlywed joy I got to experience again, sharing the news of our wedding? That’s something that’s totally lost when you find out every detail of everyone’s lives in your bored scroll through a news feed. I’ve found I much prefer organically learning what’s going on in people’s lives to typing a quick “Congratulations” as a knee-jerk reaction.
I recognize that Facebook is not all bad. There’s something wonderful to be said about reconnecting with old classmates, with keeping up with family members you otherwise wouldn’t see or hear from. Real talk, though? I’m not one to do things solely for sentimentality’s sake. If I want to have a conversation with someone, I’m going to reach out to them, personally, via text message. And if someone wants to keep up with me, we can make plans to grab coffee and actually engage with each other.
I know I’m not alone in this attitude – my husband has never used social media beyond the occasional Instagram post, and many of my closest friends are rarely on Facebook – but it sure as hell feels like it when people remark, “Wow, I never see you anymore,” but don’t realize I’m not getting their Facebook event invitations. Do you really actively want those people at your party when you’re not even consciously aware of who you are inviting?
Look, I get it. Facebook isn’t going away, and we are only going to become more interconnected as technology marches on. At the end of the day, though, I sure hope I can remember the people I truly interact with more than the six people who disagreed with the one opinion I shared on the internet. I hope you can, too.