art by Indiana Joel
I deactivated Facebook recently.
I won’t spend much time proselytizing about it, because people seem to get pretty touchy and self-righteous about this topic. Let’s just say I was sick of it, and I felt ready for a change.
The fact is, I’d caught myself too many times creeping through photos of people I barely knew, or endlessly scrolling through the newsfeed without any discernible purpose.
I finally concluded that I spent at least an hour on Facebook each day, and there were far better uses of my time than watching funny videos or commenting on people’s status updates.
Not to mention that I feel like Facebook appeals to all my least desirable personality traits. It brings out the vain, needy and self-congratulatory aspects of my character.
I was always looking for the most flattering photo, or choosing the most self-aggrandizing accomplishments to announce to the world. Facebook has us obsessing over our self-image, creating our own brand, and encourages us to constantly trumpet our personal successes.
I’m not going to judge anyone who stays in a relationship with Facebook. I know how tantalizing, addictive and ultimately necessary it can be for most people. These days, it acts like a contemporary phone book.
I totally get that. But I couldn’t justify the endless time-sucking. So, I Googled “how to delete Facebook” and went about dismantling my four-year relationship with my meticulously maintained social media account.
Facebook seemed upset about my decision, and responded like a clingy girlfriend who doesn’t understand it’s over.
Are you sure? It asked me.
Then it showed me a series of pictures of my friends, and under each one was the same sentiment: Hilary will miss you. Todd will miss you. Theo will miss you.
I thought to myself, I get why you chose Hilary and Todd. But Theo? He’s this dude I traveled with in Thailand, and haven’t talked to since. He’s a good guy, but he lives in the U.K. and chances are we’ll never see each other again. I’m sure he’s not even going to notice.
Good try, Facebook.
Most of my friends and family have congratulated me on my decision, and have cheered me on. They treat me like an escaped slave. A few have even followed in my footsteps.
Of course there are people who don’t understand. Or are annoyed that all my pictures have disappeared. (I used to pride myself on how many people’s profile pictures I provided to the world.) But I’m sure they’ll live.
Meanwhile, I have an extra hour a day to devote to a variety of activities. Maybe jogging, or reading a book. Perhaps I’ll do the dishes more often. Or, if I’m not careful, I might just fall into the arms of my other mistress: Twitter.
Whatever ends up happening, I feel like a free man.