I’ve had in mind to do this for a while, but I kept putting it off. Recently, however, the little Jiminy Cricket I have inside has been working harder and harder to get my attention about this (that’s my conscience for you non-Pinnochio fans out there). So here it is, my break-up letter to Facebook:
You’ve been a good friend all this time (it’s hard to believe it’s been 14 years!) When we first met, I didn’t really like you – you seemed a bit too trendy for me – but I caved and quickly found out just how easy it would be for me to like you a whole lot. You were very charming! I was at the perfect stage in my life, being a freshman in college, for you to be totally appealing.
It was fun to watch my friend count increase, to share my pictures with the world, and to be able to look at pictures of other people without them knowing it (though I mostly only did that with one person, and he is now my husband!)
[Yes that’s right kids, Facebook stalking sometimes does work!]
Maybe it was the shiny newness of social media, or the fact that I was so young, but I remember you (Facebook) being a place just to have fun. It was fun to reconnect with old friends, fun to share silly pictures of dogs or cats – and remember poking?!
But Facebook, to be honest, you haven’t been that much fun lately. Recently after spending time together, I don’t come away with many fun or happy feelings. In fact, I usually feel angry or sad, or perhaps even jealous sometimes. It doesn’t make sense to point fingers or assign blame – I think both of us have changed over the years. I’m just not sure we’re compatible anymore.
I know I’ve been worried that we’ve invested so much in each other, and it’s been hard to let go – but I’m beginning to think letting go now might be for the best.
Facebook, you make me think differently about people, about people I call my friends. I learn things about them I wish I didn’t know, and I see them posting things that are belittling and judgmental of people like me – and it hurts. I then find myself wanting to only surround myself with people who think like me, it feels safer. The more time we spend together, the more I start to become a person I don’t really like. I don’t feel like I’m living my best life when I’m so worried about you all the time.
We’ve tried separating before, and though that lasted for a while, I eventually ended up coming back – old habits die hard.
The other thing too is that back in my college days, I had so much more free time to waste. I don’t have that luxury anymore – now I’m a mom, a wife, a full-time librarian … not to mention there are many other things I enjoy that I can’t seem to find time for anymore, like crocheting or reading for fun.
Facebook, you really are not all bad. That’s why it has been so hard to leave you. I worry about becoming disconnected from people, about never knowing the latest news, or even about being the last to find out something. What if a long-lost friend decides to finally reconnect with me through Messenger? (Hey, it could happen!) That fear-of-missing-out thing is real.
But I have to stop and remind myself that the fear of missing out may be mostly what it is about. And if I’m really honest, maybe it’s about my pride too. I enjoy being “in the know.” I like the illusion you (Facebook) can give of having many close friends, even though a small percentage of them actually interact with me outside of social media. I enjoy getting “likes” and “loves” on my photos just as much as the next person.
I’m pretty certain though, that the good things I will sacrifice by ending our relationship will actually result in an abundance of better things: more time for me to be present with people in my life that are important, more time for self-fulfilling activities, and less time getting angry or anxious about something I read on my newsfeed. Maybe staying off of Facebook will disconnect me from some people, but I think the people who really want connection with me will find a way to reach out – and that will be pretty cool.
Well Facebook, I guess this is it. I won’t say you’ll never see me, I’d still like to be able to be cordial acquaintances from time to time. But having some space right now is the best thing for me, and for my family. Plus I think you have a few billion other users to keep you company, so you won’t miss me too much.
I wrote this a bit tongue-in-cheek, but in all seriousness, I want to be more purposeful about how I spend my time. That being said, if Facebook or any social media is a positive thing for you in your life, there is no judgement from me – this is what I need to do for myself at this moment in my life.
If you’d like to stay connected, feel free to follow me on my blog and/or leave me comments, I will try to respond in a timely fashion.
If you’ve been considering getting rid of social media or spending less time on it, or maybe just need some motivation to do so, check out the book ‘Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now’ by Jaron Lanier. That book gave me a lot to think about, and while I didn’t necessarily agree with everything the author said, it was a great place to start. There’s also some good TED Talks about quitting social media if that’s more your style.
Thanks for reading.