I wrote this a few years ago when I left Facebook the first time. I’d since gotten back on Facebook–clean slate. I started over with a new list of friends; some old, some new. But, I still wasn’t spending more than a few minutes at a time scrolling through whatever meager posts the site offered me.
And then, a week or so ago I posted something very benign. A “Friend” of mine that I’ve known since high school responded. He was “picking” at me, much as he did in school. I didn’t like it then; don’t like it now. But, he didn’t stop with just one post, but rather 5 more posts. Finally, I deleted the post and shut down FB. He messaged me a few minutes later apologizing. Even said he wife said he was being an “asshole.” Yep, he was.
But, the older I get, the less I need additional, unwarranted drama in my life. And if my so-called “Friends” on FB are causing unnecessary drama, well guess what? There’s something I can do about that.
I’ve shut down my account again. Maybe permanently, maybe not. But this post from a few years ago summarizes my feelings about FB (and other Social Media)
Before Facebook, I knew that I was often irrational. That my feelings sometimes got the best of me and that I often said things that maybe people shouldn’t say to other people. But then I realized that my parents did it and my parents’ parents did it and we all turned out OK.
Before Facebook, I knew who my true friends (and family) were. I knew that I could pick up the phone and call a select few people and they would be there day or night. And my Friend list didn’t comprise 400 people, most of who have to rely on Facebook notifications to know when my birthday is.
Before Facebook, I knew that, as a father, I am flawed. I knew that I could be myopic about projects; often ignoring all else in order to finalize something I was working on that would benefit my family. But I also knew that I spent a lot of time with my kids and my wife. That most of my weekends I spend running back and forth from one sports game to another and when not doing that, often playing with my kids in the yard throwing balls, riding bikes, you know…family stuff. But I also knew that I hug my children–a lot. A lot more than I was hugged as a child. And I tell my kids how special they are and how much I love them. And I have to believe, that no matter how I might yell sometimes, my kids can’t help but know how much I love them–because I’ve shown them.
Before Facebook, I knew that 14 years of marriage can make things seem a little stale–that maybe it’s not quite as exciting as it is when you’re first dating. But I also knew that my marriage was strong. That what we have as a couple is the envy of millions of single adults. And maybe we don’t have date-night as often as we’d like, but it’s not because as a man, I don’t care about my wife–that’s just life. You make sacrifices and you live with it. Period.
Before Facebook, I knew that I had a mild case of body dismorphic disorder. Despite being more active and fit than the majority of men I know, I still felt as if I’m somehow not skinny enough, or strong enough, or active enough.
Before Facebook, I could enjoy a person’s company, unfiltered by knowing every proclivity and every opinion they’ve voiced. Their personal political views, or sexual orientation or the crazy things that went on in their heads that they kept to themself didn’t interject itself into our relationship. Who cared? We’re friends because we “jive” not because we agree.
Before Facebook, I could pretend that the people I thought cared about me, actually cared. I didn’t have to wonder why someone I grew up with never comments on my posts, or why they act like I don’t even exist online. If I called and got your vmail and you never called back…I knew to let it go.
Before Facebook, men were men and women were women. However ‘wrong’ society might feel our actions to be, the consequences were ours alone to endure. We didn’t have memes telling us that traditional gender roles are outdated and that we’re somehow wrong if we feel that men should still do these sorts of things and women should do these sorts of things. And if a couple doesn’t adhere to gender roles…great…they’ll work it out between them and live a happy life.
And on that note, before Facebook, I knew that my wife worked hard. That her full-time job and the time she spends with the kids often goes unremarked. But then, the same could be said of me. I didn’t need a women’s group pointing out how much money I should spend ensuring my wife gets spa treatments or nights out with the girls, while ignoring the fact that I work 10 hour days (incl. commute), come home many nights and cook dinner or bathe kids and still do all the many other things required to keep a house from falling down around us.
Before Facebook, no one was constantly pointing out every woman’s successess and demonizing the efforts of men. Sure, maybe there wasn’t absolute gender equality in every facet of life, but we were surely moving in that direction on our own and everyone was benefitting from it.
Before Facebook, I didn’t feel guilty not evangelizing my faith. I’d come to grips with that the fact that I’m more a “James the lesser”, than a John the Baptist and was fairly confident that my sincere belief in God would suffice to qualify me for a seat in heaven, rather than the works that I did here on earth convincing others that free will should be trumped by fear or guilt.
Before Facebook, if I didn’t want to purchase a used pooch from the animal shelter, no one made me feel horrible about buying a bred-for-the-family purebreed from a reputable breeder.
But Facebook takes all of these things…all the things that makes life, life and it makes you feel like you’re wrong for living it your way, while trying its darned best to ensure that you live it “their” way. And that’s wrong. It’s OK if you want to surround yourself with others who live and love and feel as you do and you shouldn’t feel as if every time you look at Facebook, you have to defend yourself or your actions or feelings to someone else just because they post some strongly worded comment or picture-story that has 3,000 Likes from some international agency of change.
So I’m OK letting it go. No more will I be ruled by hurt feelings just because people didn’t agree with my posts. Likely, Facebook just didn’t show it to that many people anyway. It’s playing with our feelings and our lives and I’m quite through with it.
I’m OK without Facebook.