I’ve been thinking about quitting Facebook for a while. Each time I get close deactivating my account, something draws me back in. The lure of knowing what’s going on in the lives of people I haven’t seen in more than twenty years, the fear of missing out on finding out about some event happening that I may be interested in, or not being part of some larger community. The truth is, I don’t feel part of it anyway. As I scrolled through my feed this morning, I realized that I just don’t care about 99 percent of what I see on there. Generally, people aren’t posting anything of real substance. We create personas of ourselves that live online, separate from the reality of who we are. We curate the best picture of 20 that we took at an event and post it to get that dopamine hit when others “like” our picture. I’ve caught myself humble bragging or feeling proud when I post something that shows off. In truth, that isn’t who I am and I don’t want to be perceived that way.
Worse, I’ve come to the conclusion that Facebook, and similar platforms, trick us into thinking we have real bonds with people. We don’t. Saying “Happy birthday!” when you get a reminder isn’t a bond. Seeing what someone ate for dinner isn’t a bond. Remember when we talked with each other over a drink, or got together on a weekend to have dinner? Remember when we wrote to each other, or called, or emailed. Real content, real conversation. Maybe I’m feeling nostalgic or hitting a midlife point and grasping to make some deeper connections, but it’s time for me to hit that delete button. As I went through my friends list of 677 people, I realized there were less than 2 dozen that I’ve chosen to make a conscious effort to stay in contact with. These are people I don’t physically see regularly. I’d challenge you to go through your friends list and see how many of them you can actually call your friend. How many of them know the true you and not just the actor you play online?
One of my themes for the year is letting go of who you used to be. Moving forward is scary and I honestly don’t know where the next few years are going to take me, but I know I won’t get there as quickly and as fully if I spend the whole time looking back. No more unconscious opening of a browser to see what’s happening, no more mindless scrolling. I think I’ll spend that time reading a book, or actually reaching out to people I care about to see how they are doing,