Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Why I Quit Facebook

I have recently been on a bit of a tear in my real life, trying to accomplish a number of things that have been on my "to do" list for too long, pushing myself to expand a little bit in what I expect from myself, those around me, and life in general.  As a large part, this has been a good thing.  The past three weekends in a row I've actually done a major computer project that I'd been putting off for weeks, even years in one case, and am slowly making things that month-after-month I say should get done but never do actually disappear from my to do list.  I have found frustration with how people continually complain about the same things, over and over again, and yet do nothing about it and am challenging myself to not be one of those people, because I am one of those people more than I should be.

In doing this, I have made a point of removing anything that is toxic from my life.  I'm not talking about chocolate or pizza (well I am, but I'm having less luck on that front), but more larger things that I can clearly avoid and bring me no joy.  Unless I have to do it (say, bills), it's part of a larger goal I have for myself and even if I don't enjoy it I need to do it for the end result (say, exercise), or it's something I genuinely enjoy doing (say, movies), it's off the list.  I have stopped trying with people who belittle me that are in part of my life, minimizing my efforts with them to just the bare essentials of moving on with those "have to do" things, pushing people to try and change when I clearly have no effect on them, and taking out tasks or distractions that aren't actually enjoyable for me.  This is where the title of this piece is coming from-I've decided to stop doing Facebook, once-and-for-all.

I realized as I was purging my phone and genuinely questioning whether or not I used every app on it (I'm telling you-every aspect of my life I'm reviewing to see what can get cut and what is just noise, including the apps on my phone, marking the first time someone actually cleaned out their phone before they ran out of room on it) that I hate Facebook, and unlike everyone else who makes that proclamation, I'm actually going to do something about it.  I like most other social media I use.  Twitter is my oxygen, and especially in the past few days has been my connection to the gay community when I'm feeling isolated in that regard (most of my world is straight people, none of whom even talked about the Orlando shooting without prodding which is all I thought about yesterday).  Snapchat is something I've stopped actually sending and might also be on the way out, but I still like select celebrity accounts.  Pinterest has turned less into a distraction and now into a personal rolodex of what I want to do in upcoming parts of my life I'm saving up for-a wish list once I put the budget together.  Instagram is, well, there are a lot of handsome men on Instagram.  And YouTube, despite a deeply depleted list of channels I follow due to an unsubcribing trend in recent months, is still home to Mamrie Hart, Hank & John Green, and Grace Helbig, so I'm not giving that up any time soon.

But Facebook is a different story, and one that I've been telling for years.  I loved FB when it came out-it's kind of the thing that defines my very small subset of older Millennials-we were in college when it launched around the country, and it was a way to connect with friends on campus or see if that cute guy you saw every day at the library was gay or not (he wasn't, and had a girlfriend, for the record).  As the years went on it became less about connecting with new people (though you still wanted to check out the cute guy from somewhere), but more about it simply being an email account for figuring out addresses for different things.  It was a way to get invited to birthday parties or weddings and proceed from there.

In the past few years, though, it's become, for me, not a moment of celebration, but a moment of sadness.  It's been talked about how in multiple articles how Facebook is a glamorous, picture-perfect version of your life as you get older.  You have fantastic photos of vacations and weddings and you with your children growing up, but it isn't particularly real.  But the problem with knowing this and actually believing this is that as you get older the people who litter the bulk of your Facebook feed are ones that you have lost contact with, and so this is your only window into the lives of people you used to love and cherish, and are now just a series of vacation photos.  I really only speak to one friend from college anymore, so seeing all of the people who were there for the happiest parts of my life and noticing that they seem happier or more accomplished or more complete than I am is really hard when you don't have vacation photos or wedding photos to put up on your page.

Initially when this happened I started to hit the unfriend button.  It was relatively easy for ex-boyfriends or people whose names I couldn't remember, but when it came to people who had once been headliners in my life, I just couldn't do it.  I found that the unfollow button, where they can't actually tell if I'm not watching them was a better solution, but still that felt really false.  I was clicking that button in a way that bordered between self-preservation and simply a nasty jealousy of people that I was supposed to care about.  It's easy to be happy for people when they're in your face with that joy, watching them with their child for the first time or catching up over coffee about how badly that vacation was needed after months of 60-hour work weeks.  You get reality along with that life.  Here, they were approaching how you view a celebrity on Instagram, with a perfectly-manicured existence, but they are not Kate Hudson-they are actual human beings you could theoretically text and get a response from.  I realized that looking at Facebook made me sad, and so I deleted it from my phone about two months ago (keeping my account in case I really needed it in the future, but not checking in and just leaving my last post about Finn Wittrock truly my last post), along with all of the dating apps that I eliminated (we'll get to that in a later article).

And I feel better about it, quite honestly.  With all due respect to my old friends, I can get political opinions on Twitter whenever I want, the people that are still a part of my life are still there, and when I do recall a friend from college, it's something tangible and not comparing my life to theirs in a negative way to myself.  Ridding yourself of the unnecessary is a part of moving forward, and mine started with me eliminating that giant thumbs up.

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