Thursday, October 2, 2014

Why I Unfriended Facebook

Let me go ahead and say that this is not a post about how Facebook is evil and the decline of all things good in our society.  Society was doing an awfully good job with declining long before Facebook came along. 

And I don’t believe that Facebook is evil.  I mean, I’m going to guess that the vast majority of you that are
reading this right now arrived here from me posting it on the very Facebook I claim to not be so chummy with anymore.  

I still use Facebook from time to time.  I clearly put up all our new blog postings.  When I receive notices that someone has tagged me in something or sent me a message, I go take a look.  I might even comment from time to time.  Throw a "like" your way if the mood strikes.  But it is far more common that I go days, and sometimes weeks, without scrolling through the newly updated statuses, shared stories and screen swipe after screen swipe of photos.

And it's not because I don't care about your children's pictures (I love them, actually.) or that you had an amazing vacation (I'm really glad you did!) or what you had for dinner (OK, sometimes I do and sometimes I don't.  You win some, you lose some.).    

Look, I used to peruse Facebook all the time.  I was one of those people that checked it so often that there was often nothing new to see from the last time I had the app open on my phone.  It was a habit, a time filler, and a pretty good way to find out just enough about people to not have to have an actual relationship with them.  

You know what I mean.  There are dozens, maybe even hundreds of "friends" that you've collected on Facebook that you're not really friends with.  And really, that's OK for the most part.  There is nothing wrong with being Facebook friends with someone that you're not really that tight with and getting a little insight into their everyday life.  After all, they invited you in, right?  Or at least, accepted the invite you sent them.  

And for all it's aggravations (random ads, changing rules, constant negative posts, etc.) Facebook is really quite awesome for reconnecting with people that you knew once upon a time.  The best friend from elementary school that you swore you'd write to "every day" when her dad got that new job three states away.  Friends from high school and college that found lives other places.  Or maybe that was you--the one that went away and found that keeping in touch just wasn't as easy as we all thought it would be when we wrote it over and over in yearbooks and on the backs of tiny, wallet-sized pictures.  

The problem with Facebook isn't in having lots and lots of "friends" or even in being on it often.  It comes when you start thinking you know everything about someone based on a few pictures and random comments they make about football games, political affiliations, the latest diet craze or shoes.  And when I say you, I mean Me.  

My constant Facebooking was altering how I was seeing people in general.  And I didn't like it.  I found myself becoming more judgmental of others' lives, and how they chose to live them.  I was mentally critiquing their actions, their opinions and sometimes, amazingly petty as it sounds, what they wore.  

I kind of freaked out a little when I realized that I was being a jerk.  Even if I was only being a jerk in my own head.   So I backed off--way off--from my daily Facebook time. As in, I stopped looking all together.
 I need a breather.  A minute to stop knowing everything about everyone.  Or at least thinking I did.    

What someone chooses to share on any social media is really only a small glimpse into a much bigger picture.  And the only way to know the whole picture is to get to know the whole person.  You know, like, actually talk to them.  Ask them questions and care about answers.  Have a relationship with them.  

And that, dear readers, can be hard.  That's the beauty of Facebook.  I can think I know all about you because you post once a day how you hate your job and love your child.  So I can assume your boss is terrible and you're an amazing mom.  But it takes a lot more effort to know why you're unhappy and learn your daughter's middle name and if she's allergic to milk.  Do you want a change or just need a break?  Is Dora queen in your house or Doc McStuffins?  

I'm not saying Facebook kept me from being a good real friend.  Or that it made me judgmental   I'm saying it allowed the parts of me that might not be so great, to grow a bit.  And they began to take over.  And I had to get that in check.    

It's funny how many conversations people want to have with you that start with the words "so did you see on Facebook..."  And it's funny how people assume they've told you something or that you know about situations and tidbits of their lives because they've posted them up for everyone to see.  They forget you're not really part of the "everyone" anymore.   Or maybe they haven't realized yet.  And I'm not saying there's anything wrong with them.  But I've made a choice to generally exclude myself from something that most people do very naturally.   And it seriously throws them for a loop.  

In the end, "unfriending" Facebook has been a really great decision for me.  Now, on the rare occasion that I
do check it out, it's just more fun again.  To be honest, I'm more into it for the pictures, so I'm sorry if I skip over a lot of your status updates.  And I don't have Messenger on my phone anymore so if you've tried to send me a private note, I can't read it.  But I'll give you my email.  Or my phone number.  

You know, if you'd like to talk.  

Or be friends.  For real.  

No comments:

Post a Comment