Goodbye, Facebook (#99DaysOfFreedom)

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An update on my social media cleanse. Towards the end of June I had just about had it with social media. Actually, just with Facebook. I did move my app on my phone and I deleted every single like/follow/friend who wasn’t a real person I knew (and liked) or a source of bookish joy. I deleted every human rights / animal rights / mommy blogger / political figure / etc…. I even unfollowed coffee shops (not Inman Perk, all the others), restaurants, nerdy news sources, movies, and bands.

But there I was. Still checking my phone. Still popping on Facebook at work to see what “so and so said” or to go through reams of invites for various parties and events (some invites from people I barely know). I’d like to say that this endless scrolling through Facebook was like watching reruns of Disney Pixar cakes on the Food Network: fun, mindless, something to wile away a few spare minutes.

Except it wasn’t like that at all.

I’m going to try very hard to not sound super creepy, but I find myself becoming embroiled in the lives of my Facebook friends. Not in a sinister Tom Ripley or Edward Cullen sort of way. My problem is that I really and truly care. I will go back and see if your truck was repaired for a reasonable price, I will check to see if that grandchild was born safely, I will worry about a vague-book status that seems depressed, I want to know if your kid quit puking and you got some rest, I want to see how that quilt turned out after you stayed up all night ripping out seams and redoing the stitches. I care. That sounds silly, but I do care.

This doesn’t apply only to my close family and friends. That mom at daycare, the teachers who teach my kids, people at church, neighbors, childhood friends I haven’t spoken to in decades, blog friends, pretty much everyone. I want to check up on all of you. Why? Why do I care so much? I think there are several reasons:

1. Introvert to a fault. I don’t talk on the phone. AT ALL. Okay, I talk on the phone to my mom about once every other week. I write letters and postcards, I blog, I do social media. God help me if I have to talk on the phone. I may just die. I could list all kinds of excuses, but I don’t really get out much. I go to church events, I knit with two friends once a week, occasionally I go see my friend Catherine. I set up all these meetings using Facebook and texting.

2. I’m a reader. I read novels. I like novels by Barbara Pym and Iris Murdoch where you learn what each character had for lunch or their views on the proper way to fold table linens and all of this details is tied up in some sort of drama that plays out in the daily and the mundane. Facebook is real time, real life details that could make up an amazing novel. At least a novel I would read.

3. I’m tired. I’m up with Persy Jane some nights. My eyes won’t focus to read Trollope. The meeting is boring. My knitting is allllll the way over there and I don’t want to leave my chair. So I scroll, like, quiz, comment. Over and over again.

4. I care. I’m tenderhearted and I worry about people. Seriously. I get stressed by your stresses and then I feel helpless and I want to fix everything. I hardly know most of the folks on my Facebook so it would be weird for me to call you. “Hey, I know we only talk in the school pick up line, but did that argument with your husband work out?”

5. I’m nosy as fuck. I don’t want to seem saintly, so I’ll fess up. I like to know everyone’s business. I just do. Because maybe I want to be the elderly, eccentric cat lady in the “between the wars” British novel (yes, yes I do).

Yup. That’s me. The over-involved Facebook friend. How embarrassing. I knew I needed to stop.
There I was, trying to keep myself from constantly checking Facebook when I saw this on — ironically — a friend’s Facebook page: 99 days of Freedom. There I learned about Facebook’s mood experiment (which pissed me off) and the backlash against Facebook. Folks all over the globe are planning on ditching Facebook for 99 days. What a fabulous idea! Originally I was just not going to log in, but the fact that I cannot remove my phone app bothers me. I did the only thing to do: I deactivated my account. Full disclosure, I have a work account so I can post to the library’s Facebook page, but I’m not accepting any friend requests (not even from my husband). I’m not logging back in on my personal page until October 20th. Freeeddddoooooommmmmm!!!!!

Always the over-achiever, I’m going to kick it up a notch and once a week I’m going to do something in real life that I would normally do on Facebook. Here are some ideas:

1. Invite people to my home by calling on the phone or sending paper invitations.

2. Sending cards for new babies, deaths, illness, and birthdays.

3. Getting together with family members so they can see the kids and/or printing off pictures to send.
4. Sending or giving out recipe cards to folks instead of “posting” a recipe
5. Talking. To People. In Person. REAL TIME.

I’m still on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest as those social media platforms tend to inspire rather than distract. Already I’ve accomplished more reading, knitting, and I’ve been much more “present” when I’m with my husband and kids. Who knows, maybe I won’t be back to Facebook.

If you’re interested in joining #99DaysOfFreedom let me know. I will totally like that status.

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7 comments

  1. I love that you pointed out how sites like Instagram and Twitter inspire rather than distract. I have noticed this, too! I have scaled SO far back on Facebook… I have most people now hidden, I post sporadically and delete those posts within a few days of putting them up. I like the direction I’m headed. Love using it for book blog-related stuff but otherwise… ehhh. Good luck with the 99 days!!

  2. I really like this idea…. a lot… Going to have a think ๐Ÿ™‚ I hate Facebook (told everyone that at least 5 times!).

  3. I can so identify with this! I’m really mad at myself for reactivating my account last August after a two year hiatus. All of the feels are really getting to me. I’m glad you’re still blogging though and this has motivated me to stay away from the login button all but once a day!

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