I’ve sat on this post for a while. But, this conversation came up again yesterday; why am I no longer on Facebook? Trying to explain it in some way actually underlines why I’m not. It makes me want to ask “Why do I need to be?”
Here is the backstory: I closed my personal facebook account about three months ago. Regrettably, there is no way to let people on your friends list know that you are doing this. But I did mention it in passing to some family members and really thought nothing of it when I finally hit the deactivate button. This was a moment that was long in the making. I have a genuine love/hate relationship with Facebook and the love part was dwindling very quickly with each new event. The problem is that I have an account for work. My eldest sister was the first to seek me out and ask me why I unfriended her. This, for the record is my beloved sister who I would not “unfriend” but whose posts I also rarely saw since Facebook had messed with it’s feed so many times. I found out so much more by, get this…TALKING TO HER! I know! I never saw that coming either!
There was a time when Facebook was fun. I was on with all of my sisters, (I have many) and my mother and some good friends both new and old. It was about eighty people in all. We would play Farmville and Bejeweled Blitz and essentially waste a lot of time. Afterall, running a farm is not easy and if I wasn’t there in a timely fashion my crops would die! What would the locals do without fresh produce? I had a responsibility to my “friends” on Farmville. They had houses to build, or in my sisters case, compounds. Really, it was fun. But it was a GAME and when the weather broke I had to really plant my garden and tend my crops. For real. So I backed off of facebook. This was in 2010. In the meantime, my friends increased. I am not one to initiate these things and some of the friends were forwarded from other peoples farms. (This makes sense to anyone who played Farmville!) But I didn’t know them and many I didn’t friend. That is when the red flag went up that maybe I was giving over too much info in the name of gaming. Oh my Gosh! I just admitted I am a “gamer”! Ha!
As time went on and as I got busier and some posts became less fun and sometimes more confrontational in nature…or rather people let go of their manners, I began to wonder how good being in a venue like Facebook really was for me. I followed several important pages that provided me with the information as well as the insights I needed for my interests and job, James Martin, SJ, The Vatican, WKTV (our local news station), NPR and many others and it was helpful to have all of my news in the same place so I stayed. I also stayed for my family. I enjoyed it for the most part, watching people with their children, (although every movement didn’t really need to be recorded and we are all guilty of that). “Putting it on Facebook” became a part of the conversation. But that too can become invasive and disrespectful if the people involved don’t want it in a public realm. Thus, another layer to consider.
So here is “It’s not you, it’s me” part. As my friend list grew it became increasingly clear that I was not going to be able to keep up. I would tell people to “inbox me” but then if I didn’t get a chance to get on they would be ignored. I would feel guilty and so on. The more this happened the more I began to think that Facebook can actually impede close relationships because it removes some of the spirit. It cannot replace the voice, vision or handwriting of one who is beloved, at least it can’t for me. Not to mention (and yet I am!) the commentary…the constant commentary. Maybe it is that simple. I am both heartened and appalled by the comments that I read in equal measure. I am alarmed at how we can go from a Christian quote about love to a menacing statement about race or socioeconomic status. But as I said, it’s not you, it’s me.
It really is me.
Facebook is good for some things, for example, I manage a page for my church and that has been very useful. My sister owns a diner and uses it for her business. It has allowed both of my sisters to re-connect with old friends. It has allowed me to know people people in my community better. It has given me a way to connect with people who are interested in the same things as I am so that we can all learn more. But it also brings me into dramas and dynamics that are way beyond my ken and that makes me itch. So, while I do want to make sure that I thank Facebook as it has given me the ability to get to know people enough to talk more to them and that is a gift, (as a situational extrovert, it helped me), now I am in a different place and I have a different interest and a different approach. Not to mention, I have weight to lose! I will return, no doubt, especially with the holidays around the corner. But for now, I am going to remain quiet. I am going to hunker down and get my work done. I am going to avoid what everyone agrees can be a “time-suck” until I get my own poo together.
See you then!