Why I am deleting Facebook

This is extraordinarily random, but I thought it worth mentioning why I decided to finally request a full delete of my Facebook account.  The short answer:  I feel less connected when I am on it.

The Why

This was a fairly lengthy decision making process on my part, and there were a few big questions that I had to answer before I could commit to it.

What about (insert friend’s name here)?

As I perused my list of Facebook friends, it occurred to me that I already have phone numbers for those with whom I want to keep in touch.  There were a few notable exceptions, and I took some steps to remedy those cases: I just asked for a cell phone number and gave mine in return.  

So my “real” friends, those with whom I want to cultivate a lifelong relationship, will probably be annoyed that I will be sending more text messages simply asking how things are going.  But again, it is active cultivation on my part, not the passive knowledge acquisition that Facebook promotes.

How will I know what’s going on?

This was probably the hardest question for me to answer.  Facebook is a drug of sorts, triggering a dopamine high.  So what am I to do when my sense of belonging and concept of self can no longer be easily satisfied by logging in to Facebook and checking the likes on my posts?

Much like becoming physically fit, the answer is simple but not easy.  Consistent improvement through introspection and cultivation of relationships.  

What about the gym!?!?

My current gym uses social media (Facebook and Instagram) to communicate information about the gym and the community.  Our social media director outdoes herself when it comes to keeping folks up to date on the latest at the gym and doing her best to keep people engaged in the community.  

However, if I am being honest, the sense of community does not come from Facebook, but from the people.  It is an amazing group that have helped me turn my physical well being around.  Sure, I will have to be a little more inquisitive about people’s activities outside of the gym, but is it really so bad to be forced to talk to people?

The How

Building real relationships

Why do we use the term “cultivate” when describing building friendships or relationships?  Because it is a continuous, difficult process that yields amazing results.  Farming is one of the most arduous and necessary tasks in the human world, and cultivation is the act of preparing the ground (aka, digging, tilling, etc).  Sure, mechanization has made things easier, but for thousands of years, farming was difficult, back-breaking work.

So is maintaining friendships.  Facebook makes it easy:  we accept a friend request, skim our news feeds throughout the day, and we presume we are friends.  But that friendship is not real friendship: real friendship has an active component.  You listen to a friend when they have problems, you console them through a difficult time, and you celebrate with them in times of triumph.  When I re-evaluated my friend list on Facebook, only a percentage really met that criteria.

Cutting the cord

Why not just use it less?  I could remove it from my phone or monitor my own usage to ensure I am not spending too much time on Facebook.  Or I could deactivate my account for a time.

For myself, deletion is the only option.  I am terrible at moderation.  When I find something that makes me feel good, I will keep going back to it.  For a few years I deactivated my account, but the draw was too great:  it was too easy to log back in and see who was up to what.

The last thing I want is to make this some sort of rallying cry to drop Facebook.  Many people can use it responsibly and it provides connections that they would not get otherwise.  It has become, for better or worse, the center of the internet for most people.  But for me, it is all or nothing, and at this moment I prefer nothing.

What about Instagram?

I will be keeping my Instagram account, primarily to monitor my teenage son’s activity, but also because I feel like it is less intrusive.  I do not get the same dopamine hit on Instagram, for me it acts mostly as a source of entertainment.

Perhaps it is foolish of me to think that I can drop one and keep the other.  But I will be tracking my time on Instagram more closely in the coming months to ensure I am not simply replacing one vice with another.  The ultimate goal of my switch is to free up time for more interpersonal relationships.  More beers with friends, as it were.






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