I quit Facebook this week. It was quite an event. The reasons are, naturally, manifold and complex, as in any break-up. I stared at the screen forlornly, wishing it wasn’t so, and then proceeded to jump through the tricky steps toward true deletion. No break-up is clean and simple, is it? Facebook didn’t want me to give up on us, making it seem as though I could only deactivate. But I assure you, it is quite possible to really delete (follow the link listed in this post.) I mean, in the end, is it really wise to ‘stay friends’ after you finally cut ties and break up? Is it healthy to know that it’s still out there, waiting for you, chalk full of all those memories you created and shared together? Isn’t it just better to give it the ol’ rip off the Band-Aid approach and get on with things?
So I did just that. Running through the many moments we shared together, a hint of a tear in my eye, I pressed the delete button with quivering index finger. Flashes of our most brilliant, and darkest, moments dashed through my memory. All those terrible photos I had to rapidly un-tag myself in while undergoing a mild panic, hoping no one had ‘seen them yet.’ The awkwardness of that one occasion where those three guys I was pseudo-dating (not exclusively, mind you) all posted on my wall within a fifteen-minute timespan in some kind of strange, virtual turf war. That one time I went to Madrid for a visit and, thanks to Facebook, was able to connect with a friend who by freaky coincidence was also visiting from Nigeria at the exact same time. All the friendships it sort-of facilitated, all the insecurity it encouraged, all the unhealthy stalking for which it allowed. All those ‘likes’ from my dad, on every single one of my posts. And may I add, for posterity’s sake, that Number One Facebook Fan Award goes, without question, to him. Which might, in fact, have actually been my mom using his account. I guess I’ll never know.
Yet then Facebook and I entered into the dark time. It was that period when you know things are over, but you are living off of the memories of what once was, hoping against hope, in desperation, that you’ll get just a glimmer of the goodness that you once shared. All the while, of course, knowing deep down that those changes are real and permanent. And there’s no going back to what you once shared.
We had grown apart, at long last, and for good. The trust was finally gone, you see? And oh, how it pained me to acknowledge that. It was so bittersweet I thought I might just simultaneously melt into a puddle on the floor while scrunching my face into a look of such agonized betrayal that I might never get it off again. It was that process of ‘letting go,’ understanding that two entities (in this case, one human and the other a virtual platform that makes profit off of you) just aren’t compatible. It wasn’t meant to be.
To my surprise, and perhaps yours, now several days into our very real break-up, I am still alive. I have not succumbed to loneliness. Nay, the strangest of things has occurred. I find myself floating and free. People, real people walking down the hallway, are graced with my eye contact rather than the device clamped tightly in my hot, sweating hand as I scroll rapidly through a newsfeed full of the same redundant bullsh** I’ve seen 87,000 times before. Instead of the insidious and creepy advertisements that Facebook was selecting for me, I discovered the wonder of having control over the content I read. And rather than fretting over whether or not I had phrased my posts in just such a way that Facebook’s algorithms would deem them worthy of exposure on my contacts’ walls, I was enjoying just being me. Just. Me.
And I’ll tell you, it really is something to just be you for a little while, without the newsfeed of tightly controlled content, the manipulative advertisements and the machine-generated approval of your posts that allow who, and how many, get to see them.
You might even, in fact, discover that Facebook’s supposition of who you are isn’t, as it turns out, all that accurate at all. And once its influence is gone, you might even allow yourself to grow, change, morph, challenge, question and evolve like we, as humans, are intended to do over the span of our both very long, and very short, lives.
So, goodbye, Facebook. It’s been (kind of, and periodically) good. But you’ve changed over the years. And so, it would seem, have I.