One week ago I decided to deactivate my Facebook account. This may seem like a meaningless action to many, but it was actually a pretty big decision for me. For seven years now, I have logged onto this crack-like website every single day to see what my “friends” have been up to (read: stalk the crap out of their photos and status updates). Seven years is a long time to follow the daily happenings of family, friends, and sometimes mere acquaintances.
My decision to deactivate was not driven by one factor, but several combined. Sure, some of my reasons for wanting to indefinitely log off of Facebook stemmed from the recent Presidential election and the hate-filled posts I couldn’t seem to hide/block fast enough, but ultimately what made the decision for me was the realization that I no longer enjoyed following the lives of so many people. It was a chore that I disliked, but also felt the pressing need to do. In essence, I was addicted to Facebook and couldn’t quit hitting the “refresh” button to see more and more posts that I could care less about. I was like an alcoholic who hated the taste of alcohol.
A few weeks ago, my I’m-tired-of-Facebook solution was to simply defriend people. After awhile though, I found myself wondering what the point of having a Facebook account was if there were only about 1o or 15 people who I actually wanted to keep up with? It was then that I decided to deactivate.
The 10-15 people who I want to keep up with exist outside of a profile picture and a status update. From where I sit right now, I have at least four different ways of contacting them! I have noticed that when I follow my friends on Facebook, I am less likely to call, text, email, or visit with them because I feel like I already know what is going on in their lives, even if we haven’t physically spoken in weeks. Again, there is a lot more to each of my loved ones than what is shown on Facebook.
In the past week, I have enjoyed living more “in the moment” to be super clicheesy (cliche + cheesy, that should be a word). Now when I see a funny sign somewhere, I don’t snap a picture of it, post to Facebook, and wait for comments and likes to appear. I enjoy it alone, or maybe send it to my fiance and a few friends. Standing in line at the grocery store is now a time to talk to the people around me or just people watch, as opposed to staring at my iPhone closed off in my own world. Being off of Facebook has eliminated the desire for approval from others. It has helped me feel more positive in general, as so many posts made on Facebook nowadays are negative and complaint based. Being off of Facebook has made me live less in other peoples business and more in my own.
A week ago, I wasn’t sure how I would like being disconnected from some important people in my life. As it turns out, I am happy to be “off the book” and have no desire to return anytime soon. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I actually feel less stressed not having to read about so many people’s lives. I value human relationships and have never been one to have “outer circle friends.” You are either very near and dear to my heart, or not really there at all. I applaud people who can have many different groups of friends, all with different levels of interaction and importance, but I just can’t do it.
So maybe this is the underlying cause of my Facebook Distress Syndrome. Maybe the whole Dunbar’s Number thing is right and one human can only maintain around 150 personal relationships (I think it’s less for introverted people). Granted on Facebook you aren’t exactly required to interact with everyone or keep relationships going, but this leads me back to my first thought: then what’s the point of having a social networking site?
I know I will eventually log back onto Facebook and I will be happy to do so when I am ready, but for now I am thoroughly enjoying my “facebreak.”