I’m not one for New Year celebrations. But don’t throw me in with the grumpy, scrooge-y types. I will go to a party or two as long as they are something 16 year old me would have found completely lame (read: card games, proper food and alcohol is optional). What can I say, I’m embracing my impending oldness. I never much got into the sentiment of washing away an old year and ushering in a new. Never made any resolutions. I try really hard to continually reevaluate what’s going on in my life and what I can improve or where I can ‘trim the fat’, so to speak.
But something odd happened today.
I accidentally made a new year’s resolution. And, it was kind of a big one.
I quit Facebook.
And then Instagram.
I know what you are thinking “Oh, she’ll be back within the week“.
But, really, I don’t think I will. Habits are hard to break, yes. But, this habit felt so good to let go of. It was surprisingly emotional. It felt like saying goodbye to someone who is moving away and tells you they will certainly, most definitely, stay in touch but you both know this is probably the last conversation you will have. It felt like a tether was cut and a tightness in my chest eased slowly throughout the day as time after time, when I reached for my tablet or phone, I realized I no longer had to check-in.
Facebook is like this whole other world that goes on with or without you. I found that there was a constant pressure to check often and make my presence known. Much like the party that you don’t want to go to but have to at least be seen at. Show up, make a few remarks, shake some hands and take a picture as proof. For years I’ve been wanting to ‘go dark’ but I felt like it was social suicide. Then I realized that if going off of Facebook caused me to lose friendships than perhaps those weren’t actually friendships. Plus, I started to believe that my interactions on Facebook either bolstered or reinforced my relationships in real life, but, honestly, they didn’t. They were vapid, easily passed over bits of text and inane ramblings. I found that I often liked a status more to say “hey, I’m here, I’m reading this, don’t forget about me, we totally think the same.” While I stayed away from creating status that were totally pointless, I still often created things just as an attempt to feel less lonely. To try and prove that I was just as interesting as everyone else seemed to be. I was that person in the room that kept trying to talk louder and louder so that people had no choice but to hear, regardless of if they were actually listening.
We all know that Facebook crops life into these neat, perfect, idyllic little squares of life.Vacations, happy moments, perfect meals, etc…but, this can be so toxic. It shifts our perspective and causes us to judge others and ourselves against depictions of life that aren’t whole. I found myself often thinking my situation X or relationship Y ‘should be’ like this or that person’s other situation or relationship. I ‘should’ work out like she does or do more to help like he does. But, no matter how much I told myself that the picture was skewed I still absorbed all the self-imposed judgement. I no longer enjoyed certain situations for their inherent worth but as something I could share. Everything seemed to require outside validation.
LOOKAT ME! VALIDATE ME! MEMEMEMEMEMEMEEEEEEEE!!!!!!
Well, fuck that! I’m done.
Facebook caused me anxiety. It caused me to live outside of situations as opposed to just enjoying being in them. It turned me into a judgy, ugly person. It caused me to foster relationships less and talk less because I had already ‘said’ things on Facebook. I mistook ‘conversations’ on status posts as a replacement for actual conversations. I’ve sat at tables where no one talked but I ended up with a whole list of friend requests by the end of the evening. Instead of calling friends to catch up I’d send a “How are things?” message that neither of us really wanted to spend time typing out full responses to so it never went anywhere past “Oh, you, know…things and stuff.”
After years on Facebook I started to feel less like myself, less grounded in reality and very distanced from the people around me. By removing myself from the crowd of screaming, validation seeking, knee-jerk commenting world I am allowing myself to return to relying on myself for my own worth and validation. I will take each situation for exactly what it’s worth at the time it’s happening and not worry about getting my picture/comment/status up before everyone else.
I’m not saying that all of Facebook is bad or that everyone is just playing high school popularity contests with it. But, for me, that’s how it felt. Facebook to me was like a bad boyfriend I always had to check in with, describe who I was with, and provide proof of where I had been. It caused me to be sad and anxious about my life and what I was, or wasn’t, doing with it. It’s covert and insidious in the ways it can change they way you view the world, yourself and the ways you enjoy to spend your time. And, for better social life or worse I’m calling it quits.