A few of you have noticed I’ve gone dark on Facebook over the past few weeks. I didn’t want to make one of those stereotypical “I’m fasting Facebook” posts, because that’s not what this is. This isn’t a fast, it’s a necessary life change that may or may not last a long time. So far, life has been better without Mark Zuckerberg dictating what I do and don’t know about your Facebook feeds. I’d much rather hear it directly from you anyway! But, since I’ve spent so much time thinking about my exit from social media, I figured I should let you in on some of the reasons behind it.
1. Communication with my husband:
This was one of the first reasons why I started contemplating giving Facebook a rest. There were so many times, day after day, that Rocky would come home and say, “So and so got accepted to such and –“ and I’d stop him mid sentence and say, “Yeah, I already know.” I cringed every time it happened, first because it was rude, second because I was irritated with him for not realizing that the only reason he knew that particular piece of information was the same reason I knew it: Facebook, and I cringed because there had been an opportunity for a conversation to take place, and since we are so over-informed thanks to the interwebs, instead, the conversation fell flat. Wouldn’t it be nice to be surprised by information once in awhile? Since I’ve been off Facebook, he catches me up on the important things, and now because I haven’t seen the entire comment thread following the news, we get to have a discussion about whatever it was, important or not. I like talking to my husband!
2. My kids:
How many times have we all vowed to limit our computer/phone time in an effort to be more present with our kids? I’ve done it at least ten times in the past five years. A few years ago, before I started the publishing game, I got off Twitter and tried really hard to cut back on Facebook so that my kids wouldn’t think that those things were more important than they were. Eventually my old habits crept back up, and though I had cut back on the amount of posts I made on Facebook, I still spent a lot of time scrolling through the news feed and searching for friends. When Josiah asked recently, “Mommy, why are you always on your phone and texting?” my heart crumpled and I heard myself say, he thinks this is all you do.
Additionally, any time I take a picture or video of my kids, or anytime they say anything cute, they follow it up with, “Are you going to post that on Facebook?” Typically when they ask that, I don’t post it, and I tell them so because I don’t want them to be attention-seeking-selfie-posting-teenagers in a few years. I don’t want them to need to find their value in what others think, say and do. Which leads me to . . .
3. My own insecurities and need for affirmation:
Whenever I post something on Facebook, I look at my notifications constantly. Even though I want comments more than I want ‘likes,’ I’m happy with both. I want to know that people think I’m funny and clever, and I want to banter back and forth because it makes me feel validated. I have things to say and people should hear them! I feel better about myself when my notifications on my own posts start popping up. I need to seek out the things that actually do speak of my value in an authentic way. Facebook is not one of them.
4. My News feed Brings out the Worst in Me:
I love my friends, I really do. But the past nine months have been some of the darkest of my life, and while plenty of people refer to Facebook as “Fakebook,” I have always given people the benefit of the doubt, because I am a transparent person. A number of years ago I realized that maybe I was a little bit too transparent and I tried to reign myself in a bit more, and complain a bit less, but still, what you see is what you get with me. More and more lately, however, I felt myself feeling intense bouts of jealousy, envy, irritation and anger at a lot of posts and pictures that came up in my newsfeed. It’s been a lonely season, and so looking at all of the happy people with all of their happy friends on their happy vacations, well, let’s just say I was not rejoicing with anyone in their successes and victories. I do want to say that none of this was personal, that this particular bullet point is NOT directed at any one person, and none of you should feel guilty for posting anything that you post. This is about the darkness in the depths of my soul and how my news feed shoved me further and further into it. I just couldn’t deal, and I found myself unfollowing people left right and center, but I was still unsatisfied.
5. Facebook gives a false sense of friendship and reality:
Sticking with the ‘Fakebook’ idea, it’s true that many people only post the best things, the uplifting things, the best pictures (I’m definitely guilty of that. I have even untagged myself and hidden pictures because of how badly I look in them.). That speaks for itself. I don’t know what is really going on in your life unless I ask and you tell me. Your status update only gives me a glimpse, and maybe not an accurate one.
The whole reason I got on Facebook in the first place was because all of my Canadian friends were on there rather than Myspace. I was always excited to find another long lost pal from the past, and for at least a day or two, that excitement spurred conversations and memories between us, but inevitably the emotional high of having finally found one another wore off. There have even been times when I’ve re-remembered someone and searched for them, only to find that I’d befriended them years ago, then eventually deleted them and completely forgotten about it.
6. I need to be present in my reality:
I’ve been thinking a lot about this one because when we moved from Fort Worth to Austin, Facebook was my lifeline to my old friends. I depended on it to keep me connected and grounded. Being able to see what they were up to and ‘liking’ their posts and pictures and vice versa made me feel like I was still a part of their daily lives. The problem is that I wasn’t a part of their daily lives. At all. I’d moved away and had yet to really begin existing in my new reality. Facebook was where I lived my life.
There is something natural about distance between friendships when someone moves away. You are supposed to miss people, to feel the ache in the place where they used to be. Facebook blurs that line, and while it is truly amazing to be able to chat with people and see pictures from across the world and what not, for me, it was my escape from a reality that I didn’t want to accept. I was holding so tightly to the friendships I’d left behind that I was fine staying holed up in my house, waiting for notifications and retreating from the new life and new friendships that were to be made here. That was where #4. really came in. I was holding on to friendships that were moving on, and it was heartbreaking to see them moving on without me, all day, every day.
I’m ready to move on now, and getting off of Facebook has opened the door for me to see so many things more clearly, it has given me time, capacity, and it’s helped my moodiness immensely.
With all of that said, I’m not saying anyone else should ditch the news feed, and I’m not saying I won’t ever log on. I’m keeping my profile because I have hundreds (maybe thousands?) of pictures and memories there that I don’t want to lose. Also because I have my author page and a number of groups that I admin for. So, it’s not a clean break, and I’m not saying I won’t ever be back. This is what’s best for Julie right now, and by best, I mean, life-giving and necessary.
I will continue to post my blogs on both my author and profile pages, I will continue to be able to receive messages via Facebook/Messenger. I’ll also keep updating my author page (more regularly than I have the past few months), and if I just really need to say something, I’ll probably say it there. You should go ahead and follow me there now, just so you don’t miss something brilliant! I also have a twitter account that is connected with my author page, but they are basically duplicates of each other, so you can pick which ever medium you like the best!
And so there it all is. My not-so-stereotypical reasons for breaking up with the Facepage. It may still be cheesy and you might just roll your eyes at me, that’s fine. I won’t know about it . . . unless of course you message me. And hey, I need some props for not saying, “God told me to,” right? *wink wink* Seriously though, I do still want to know what’s going on, so hit that message button anytime.