Thursday, August 16, 2012

Farewell, Facebook

I'm on Day 11 of a little Facebook break. I never had a "goal date" in mind, but I'm tentatively planning on six weeks. It might extend into more, or I may cut it short. We'll see.

Yesterday I "cheated." Since I stopped logging on to my account, I've received two emails from Facebook alerting me to a slew of notifications and a flourish of activity that I am "missing." It's like the Facebook gods are trying to convince me that my world isn't complete without knowing what John Doe thinks about Romney's VP selection, or what Jane Smith's baby bump looks like six months (excuse me, 24 weeks) in. So while laying in bed last night, I decided to clear my notifications to get Zuckerberg's crones off my back. And naturally, I didn't stop there. I spent a couple of minutes scrolling through my Facebook feed on my phone. (Next I need to take a break from that damn smartphone.)

Although I felt a little guilty after indulging my curiousity, I'm glad I did. I've learned a lot about myself, my friendships, and my social life from the past 11 days coupled with that brief re-encounter with "The Facebook."

I don't miss it. I thought I would have "Facebook withdrawals" and experience very intense urges every day to log on. So far, I have not. In fact, at times I've actually forgotten that Facebook exists. How liberating! 

The world goes on. It really does. You can survive, and even thrive, in a Facebook-free world. And a lot more people do than you think.

It's not real. The status updates, pictures, and postcards (those are the worst) do not a true life make. People choose their online identity by these posts, and often their Facebook persona is not their real self.

If it's that important, I'll find out eventually. Last night my activity stream told me that one of my favorite people from college is 16 weeks pregnant. I was thrilled for her. And a little sad that I didn't know this exciting news on Monday morning at 9 a.m. when she alerted the rest of her social network. But I realized that I would eventually have found out. One of my other college friends would have shared the news with me in a real conversation, in a natural environment. Like we did in 2004.

It feeds false perceptions and unhealthy anxiety. If I don't know about your latest beach trip with your friends, then I don't know. If I do know because Facebook is telling me so, I might a) feel rejected and neglected because I wasn't invited, b) feel depressed because I have no vacations coming up and will be sitting behind a desk for the foreseeable future, and/or c) feel jealous of your life, relationships, and model bikini body as portrayed by your mobile uploads.

My real relationships remain strong. I  have talked to one of my best friends every day on the phone since my Facebook "fast." I have also talked to both of my parents more the past 11 days than I have in years, probably. This could be due to a number of different factors, but I have realized that I will stay closely connected to the people in my life who really matter. In fact, our interactions will probably grow even more meaningful as we share our daily happenings, discuss our political opinions, and disclose our ongoing emotions through frequent texts, regular emails and calls, and occasional visits.

So a Facebook-free life is a good life. And please hear me - I am not judging anyone who is a Facebook fanatic. I have no intention of swearing off the social network forever. But just like the periodic sugar or booze fast, this Facebook break has been so cleansing for me.

Oh, and if you get engaged, find out you're pregnant, or score a new job, please let me know asap. ;)


Brittany said...

I got a shout out! I love our office chats! I'll let you know if i get pregnant.

Victoria Mason said...

Less Facebook-yes! More blog- Yes!