I quit Facebook last summer, cold turkey, and it stuck. For the first few days it was very strange for me, but then… I have a presence on Facebook now for my novels and to run a fan page for an art guild of which I’m a member. I have no “personal” presence. A couple of my friends followed my lead and, as did I, found their lives were better — more peaceful and more productive.
What continues to be strange is that if you leave Facebook people have serious reactions — they can feel rejected (personally), they can stop being your friends IN REAL LIFE, and it is pretty much the end of contact. I didn’t have a ton of ‘friends’ and most of my ‘friends’ were really friends or good acquaintances. From time-to-time I get emails that say, “We miss you on Facebook.” After quitting Facebook I finished the edits on a novel and began another.
Day One: Facebook. I suppose it’s a kind of drug. Yesterday, I took a step back and thought about Facebook. What’s good about it? Connections with people I want to be connected with. What’s bad about it? It’s a time suck and an emotion suck. There’s so much bullshit in day-to-day life that looking for it at home on one’s computer just seems kind of nuts. Can I live without it? Can ANYONE live without it in these days? Can friendships survive the absence of that connection? I guess I want to know the answer to that.
Human relationships are already fraught with peril. So… Whatever it is I want from life or have ever wanted from life, well, generally just something that isn’t hedged in by ickiness.
Day Two: It’s a little strange not to check my “wall” and I realize how much of that was habit not curiosity. Reading news stories and checking sources for students, hitting on articles I would otherwise share is also strange, but OK. I remembered my first exposure to Facebook and how perplexed I was that my Facebook friends posted things which were no more content-rich than “I just inhaled” “I’m exhaling now”. Of course, I think I became/have become that person.
We need attention. I’ve had a long email conversation today with a friend from long ago about loneliness. She is very lonely and reasonably so. She’s married to a man a lot older than she is. They live in a beautiful condo but out of the center of things. She’s somewhat introverted and from another culture so making new friends is not all that easy for her. She would really like a social life and I think she needs one.
I’d like one, too, and I think Facebook filled that gap in a way, but not a satisfying way. It is a social life without actually having to “socialize.” For me maybe that makes sense as I live “way to heck and gone” (such was not the case when gas cost 1/3 what it does now) and I work a lot, but for my friend Facebook doesn’t make sense. I don’t think it does for me, either, or I’d still be there.
Anyway, it is an addiction and it’s not going to be gone in one day. I would like to tell someone that my ear hurts or that my painting is going well or that Einstein didn’t say, “Insanity means doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” I’d like to craft a rant on students being lazy. But thinking of what I would do on Facebook makes me ask a question I would ask if I were actually posting on Facebook. Is any of that necessary for me to say or for others to know? What is really necessary for me? It would seem that it’s necessary for me to grade papers as they come in and work on a cow painting and maybe ride the stationary bike. Maybe it’s essential to focus on where I want to go with myself and my life and to use my time for that rather than seeking attention. Maybe NOT having THAT attention will inspire me to turn outward toward the world. Maybe I’ll return to long afternoon rambles in the mountains (doubtful with allergies and $4 gas but who knows?). I have definitely perceived the different amount of time I have without Facebook.
Now the trick is to stick with it. There are even PLANS for quitting Facebook. T
Day Three: And so here we are again. I’m grading student papers, most of which are not very good, but I’m just kind of stuck here reading bad writing and non-thought and not being able to breathe and fearing going outside because of the allergens.
“We’ve become accustomed to a new way of being ‘alone together’…We have gotten used to the idea of being in a tribe of one, loyal to our own party,” wrote M.I.T. professor and psychologist Sherry Turkle in the New York Times.”As for me — I don’t know much more than I just want to stay away from it, for now at least. One day at a time!“Facebook is a tedious distraction. More often than not, Facebook acts as a distraction and not a tool to “reconnect.” In fact, it’s estimated to be costing the U.S. economy billions. Constantly checking Facebook is an addictive habit, and one that is hard to break. We check our smart-phones every six-and-a-half minutes, and part of the reason why is that we’re always refreshing our Facebook pages. It’s hard to overestimate the site’s addictiveness. Alexia Tate, a friend of a friend who I’m connected to on Facebook, took a break from the site for 40 days during Lent last year. When she came back, she noticed that she’d become more of a Facebook fiend than ever. “Kind of like smoking,” she wrote in an email.”
Another article, a very good one, “The Flight from Conversation,” by Sherry Turkle, says, wisely (in my opinion)
“So, in order to feel more, and to feel more like ourselves, we connect. But in our rush to connect, we flee from solitude, our ability to be separate and gather ourselves. Lacking the capacity for solitude, we turn to other people but don’t experience them as they are. It is as though we use them, need them as spare parts to support our increasingly fragile selves.