This morning, I did something I’d been turning over in my mind since October…deleted Facebook.
I deleted it in the way that means I didn’t delete it at all, which is to say that I just removed it from my phone. I have done that before, when the app locked up and I would delete it…and immediately reinstall. This time, it was deliberate in a different way.
Facebook was my very first smartphone app. It was the site that gave me my training wheels of social media (and if we could have a “Delete the Year of Your Choice” with the next update, that’d be awesome, because I can’t even with 2009).
I’m not prepared to fully delete my account, because I like to only go balls to the wall in the safety of my own mind. Plus, Facebook is a time capsule of my life…albeit from 2008-present, sure, but that period still covered some really great stuff. The pictures of my son’s transformation alone make it worth keeping. And then there are all the wonderful co-workers, past and present, who helped shape and teach me. Or my wedding album, covering the entire beautiful day.
And then there are those moments, captured forever in snapshot form, of me and people with whom I will never be able to share a photo again.
No, I’m not going to delete my account. But I am going to acknowledge what having the Facebook app on my phone has done to me since, oh, probably the political season.
Everyone knows where this is going, and I won’t disappoint you…things got very dark with this presidential election. It was the perfect storm: a conglomeration of polarizing viewpoints, narcissism, smugness, and the ugliness of hatred that is born of fear.
Fear. That’s what it comes down to, really. Fear pierces us, wraps itself around our very cores, pervades every conscious thought. Our bodies, seeking to stabilize us, try to temper that fear, to suppress it. But still it leaks out in other ways, ways that may trick us into believing that we’re not afraid at all. We may feel inexplicably angry over a minor slight. We may become suddenly convinced that we’re experiencing the kind of love that means we can’t even handle not being with the object of our affection. We may vigorously throw ourselves into a new hobby, neglecting other areas in our lives.
I’m not saying it’s unnatural to become really angry, or to experience falling in love, or to really get into your new rec league team sport. Sometimes, though, we become unhealthily obsessed with people or things, to the detriment of our own well-being.
I have a couple of written pieces that I keep readily available on my phone to pull up and re-read. Both soothe me, and remind me that life, especially in its most difficult times, is about growth and change.
The first is a short story called The Egg, by Andy Weir. Ironically, he wrote this masterful piece in 2009, the same year my Facebook statuses were things like, “I’m a she-wolf,” or “Love Stinks by the J. Geils Band is the GREATEST SONG EVER.”
We can’t all be brilliant.
The piece brings up an interesting perspective. I don’t believe in it, but I do believe in the idea of trying to remain open-minded. I also really like this Red Hot Chili Peppers’ line: “The more I see, the less I know.”
I’ve read The Egg a lot.
The second is one that subscribes to the Buddhism idea that attachment is born of fear.
Attachment is an extremely common delusion – to a greater or lesser extent our minds are influenced by it almost all the time.
This has been something I’ve tried, half-heartedly, sure, off and on, definitely, to practice in my daily life. Any time I feel myself getting too attached to any one person or thing, it serves no purpose aside from making me more anxious. More clingy. More self-doubting. And believe me, consciously uncoupling from my level of attachment disorder is daunting at best. But when I keep practicing it, I see results. I can stop attaching importance to outcomes I’ve deemed important in my mind. I can see things more rationally and objectively.
I’ve learned a lot. One thing I know for sure is that whiskey is a really bad idea when you want to practice detachment. Probably one of the worst.
But I digress.
This is all leading to my long-winded point, which is that I was getting way too caught up in Facebook. I felt it happening, but still was pulled in day after day to the tornadic funnel of snide remarks, opposing viewpoints, and people channeling their fear into hate.
Since November, I have pulled further and further away, finally getting to the point of brief bursts: checking my notifications only, or searching something based on a recommendation.
This morning, after a night of actual sleep because I didn’t get on Facebook before going to bed, I knew that today was the day.
I pulled the plug.
What I have learned in the last 13 or so hours is that I was on Facebook way more than I thought. And what has happened today is that I’ve been able to focus on other things. Things that I had been neglecting, or too distracted to undertake. In fact, I was on my phone far less today overall.
Damn. I don’t even know where my phone is right now.
And while I’m currently staring at my laptop screen, which isn’t really different, it somehow feels that way.
I’m not putting a set time on how long I go without Facebook. I kept Messenger, just because I sometimes get funny links or work requests on it. I’m not trying to be a hero, or to suggest that it’s the answer for everyone.
But for today, for now, it works for me.