Recently, I’ve come across about a zillion blog posts/articles written by people who are either analyzing their current presence on Facebook (thanks, Rob), contemplating the decision to delete their Facebook page (thanks, GMD), broadcasting the recent studies that show that Facebook contributes to depression and feelings of loneliness (here’s a smattering of links, all from the same site, even), or explaining why they never jumped on the Facebook bandwagon in the first place (thanks, Cal).
Given that Facebook has been around for almost a decade now, I’m wondering why all the sudden attention is being devoted to it. I mean, MySpace just sorta died without fanfare (present attempt at resurrection non-withstanding)… and does anyone here even remember Friendster? Did I just date myself?
Facebook invaded our lives with infectious frenzy. What started as a slow trickle of college kids and recent graduates joining the ranks went viral very quickly once the -.edu requirement was omitted. All of a sudden everyone and their mother (and grandmother–oh geeze) jumped in the pot. It became so ubiquitous, that people started saying things like “it’s not real until it’s posted on Facebook.” That applied to everything from photos, party invitations, quirky one-liners (that we would surely forget if we had to actually wait for the right time to use them), and even relationships. I actually sort of wonder how many relationships have met their demise due to of one of the involved parties not making the relationship “Facebook official” in the right timing.
And I get it. I’m not a Facebook hater and I don’t look down on people who use it. I think it has a lot of good qualities. I like the ability to keep in touch with people you may otherwise not be able to. I love the fact that it makes remembering birthdays a cinch. I sometimes don’t even mind the weird corporate-ness of it all–there are some events and sales that I have found out about through glancing at someone else’s Facebook that I would not have heard about otherwise.
Here’s the thing for me personally. It was just making me tired. I am an introvert in the truest sense of the word, and I just couldn’t keep up with everyone and everything. My Twitter feed I can handle. I can glance at that very quickly, find stuff I’m interested in, and simply ignore the rest. Facebook was not so easy to be superficially involved in. I felt like I had to be all-in or give it up all together.
I deactivated my account for a year or so just to get some much-needed social rest and ended up going back to it. I wanted to see what was going on with long-lost friends, and I thought it would be cool to get back in touch. What I found was really more than I could handle. For one thing, it seemed some etiquette/protocol had changed in my year-ish of absence (I’m looking at you, Facebook stalkers), and it also became abundantly clear that the online world kept spinning even when I’d jumped off, and I could not run fast enough to catch it again.
- I met a guy in a random place and we exchanged numbers. On our first date about a week later, he basically recited my entire Facebook profile to me. I know that people look each other up–that is sort of understandable–but I felt very on display.
- My sister-in-law wrote me a scathing private message about how my disconnection from Facebook was like a slap in the face to the family (despite the fact that we still texted and talked on the phone sometimes).
- My circle of friends from college are all still BFFs and had all recently been in a wedding for one of our mutual friends that I wasn’t even invited to. We had stayed in touch through Facebook, but when I left, I sort of ceased to exist. Out of sight, out of mind.
- My mother joined, and all of a sudden, every single one of my photos had some sort of “what exactly are you doing there?” comment on it, and every status update was followed by “what exactly does that mean?” The constant need to explain myself wore me out.
None of these things are that bad… they were just too tiring for me to deal with. I’m not a big fan of conflict, and I’m not the type of person to get in people’s faces and demand attention. Not that everyone on Facebook is fighting and demanding attention, but that’s just what it seemed like it was going to take in order for me to stay relevant among my “friends.”
So I quit. Quit it for real. Sometime in 2012, I not only deactivated my account, but I petitioned to have it deleted. And it was. I thought I would miss it, but the wave of relief that came over me instead was.. unexpected. I had no idea how much it had been weighing me down. I keep in touch with my real friends and with the family members who are willing to have email/phone relationships with me. Their numbers are small and manageable to my tiny reserve of social energy.
I’m not pissing people off anymore, and I’m not emotionally drained by events that didn’t even “happen.” I don’t think I ever had so-called “Facebook Depression,” but I can definitely say that I’m happier without it.
And that is why I don’t do the Facebook thing anymore.