I feel slightly under the weather and I have been tinkering with papers all day at work. Sounds like it is time to take a break and reach for my phone to see what everyone is up to on Facebook. Only today I made a deliberate decision to not charge my phone and scream out the door to my half asleep husband that he can reach me on my office phone.
I’ve always been skeptical of new technologies. I probably was one of few teenagers that cringed when their parents gave them a cellphone or credit card. After having a “dumb” phone for an embarrassingly long time, I finally joined everyone else in 2013 and got a tiny little computer that fits into my hand. I initially was stoked because I could play Bejewled Blitz without stealing Mark’s phone. This made us both very happy. Then I started to explore various apps, which included the Almighty Facebook app. Cool, I thought to myself. I like the people I know on Facebook and I don’t have to pull out my laptop every time I want to check out what’s happening.
It has now been many months since I have acquired my smartphone, and I find myself disenchanted. The phone, as I feared, has become almost like a nervous tick. I pull it out throughout the day and take a gander. Really, how much could have happened in the past two hours? Someone might have gotten engaged, promoted, moved, gave birth, etc. In reality, someone is reposting a quote they like or informing me that they just ate a delicious burger at Five Guys. “Just went with Brittany to Five Guys. Make sure to get mushrooms on burger. OMG….so delicious.” It is mindless chatter which I find the need to monitor everyday. I also find the need to dish it out too. I am sure people are dying to know what book I am reading or which animal I am sitting next to today.
So, disable my account, right? Yes, I do want to disable my account. The unfortunate consequences to that action are:
- Not keeping up with family/friends, or seeing really cute pictures that I would never have the opportunity to otherwise see.
- Missing out on the occasional interaction which makes me smile. (Truth be told, this is rare. I comment semi-regularly on peoples’ posts. There really is not a lot of exchange and it is pretty much devoid of meaning.)
The unfortunate reality is that the people who I do not have semi-regular communications with but are still important to me would disappear completely from my life. The people who I communicate with the most either live with me, call me or text me. I see them regularly. I don’t need Facebook for them. The handful of people who I don’t have that relationship with are the reason for staying. And everyone else is just icing – delicious and fun.
These reasons are not compelling enough to make me want to continue with Facebook. Truthfully, I find myself checking Facebook too frequently. I make life comparisons (which is absurd because FB is in no way representative of real life). I occasionally check up on people who no longer are in my life (like my ex-step family members). It is not healthy.
A Los Angeles Times’ article outlines a study on Facebook, with the conclusions showing that (1) social media is still too young to understand the repercussions and (2) frequent Facebook users are not happy people. I particularly liked this bit:
“Like other social media, Facebook affords people the opportunity to contemplate, edit and enhance their presentation in ways that are difficult if not impossible during impromptu social interactions in the flesh. You can take hours to come up with a clever response, whereas most people have long left the cocktail party when they think of the perfect riposte.”
I want authenticity. I don’t want to hear some edited version about how grand your life is. I want to hear about your sorrows and joys. I want to hear a voice or see a smile. I want real time with real people. Facebook is shallow and I feel empty when I use it.
So, today I am Facebook free. What about the future? For now, I think I am going to remove my Facebook app from my phone. I am not going to disable my account, but that should significantly reduce my usage. I very rarely use the computer at home when I use it for work all day long. If someone wants to know me, I am here. If someone want to send me an adorable picture or chat with me, they can text me or email me. Until then, I bid you adieu!