As part of my Thursday confessionals (as I’ve come to know them), I figured I’d share a little about my newest challenge.
See, Facebook and I…we’re like this now:
I broke up with Facebook.
Here’s a little background with my relationship with Facebook: All through middle school (when Myspace was cool) and high school, I flat out refused to get involved with social media. I didn’t see the point. But as the end of my senior year loomed ahead of me, I caved. I made my profile to keep in touch with high school friends while I went away to college. And I’ve been acting like a clingy Facebook girlfriend ever since.
It was actually quite bad. Every time I got on my computer, I checked it at least twice. And thank God I don’t have a smartphone, or I would have been checking it constantly there too. I read everyone’s posts, and all the posts that were new on my feed. If I went on vacation for a weekend or a week, I tried to catch up on all the posts I’d missed.
And, of course, there was the Facebook stalking. I regret to say I became quite good at it.
On the bright side, it was the Facebook stalking that convinced me that I needed to end this relationship.
Over the weekend, I was Facebook creeping on my ex-boyfriend and his family, to see what they were up to. (We dated for 19 months and have been broken up for nearly a year…and I still can’t flush them out of my system. They were like my family.) But there I was, looking at his page and trying to figure out if he was still with his new girlfriend. (Not that I want to get back with him. I don’t. It was a mutual split for good reasons.)
As I’m looking at a picture of him with his family and his girlfriend from Valentine’s Day and feeling my insides twist, my mom walks up and starts telling me a funny story about my brother.
I was laughing, and I was nearly crying. These would not have been happy tears. The fact that the humor came right at the same time where the rest of me was twisting in something close to misery had me laughing and trying to keep from crying at the same time. I think I was semi-hysterical. That is a strange sensation. I felt like both of these drama masks at once.
And that was my reality check. What in the name of Zeus was I doing? Why was I intentionally making myself miserable day after day by looking through other people’s engagement pictures, creeping on my ex’s pictures, and looking at pictures of smiling faces that used to be my friends?
It was actually kind of horrible, coming to that realization. My mission this year is to do what makes me happy and here I was, unintentionally undermining myself. I knew looking at engagement pictures made me miserable, even though I love the staging and passion I saw in each. I knew creeping on my ex a year later was a horrible idea. And here I was, doing exactly what I had told myself a million times I shouldn’t do.
So I decided to try quitting cold turkey. I didn’t delete my profile, but I wanted to see if I could avoid checking Facebook for a few days.
The first thing I immediately noticed was that I suddenly had more time to do other things. I already feel like my time is limited, and yet here I was spending 10-20 minutes a night on Facebook. Sure, it’s not a whole lot more time back, but it’s enough to sneak in a workout or a couple of chapters in a book.
Slowly, it started getting harder and harder to stay away. I was afraid I was missing something important. I started checking back to see if I had any notifications, if anyone had left me any messages.
The first time I checked back, I had 3 notifications. I felt somewhat vindicated, like telling myself, “See? The minute I stop checking it, someone tries to contact me!” However, those notifications were a calendar event I had been invited to but wasn’t going to go, a comment on a group I probably shouldn’t be part of anymore, and a birthday for someone I hadn’t spoken to in over 2 years.
I cracked once and began scrolling through the newest posts. I immediately felt a drop in my self-esteem and something like sadness creeping over me. It was all I could do to click off the page before it got worse. Besides, I wasn’t missing much.
The truth began to dawn on me: We don’t use Facebook to keep up on our friends. We say we do, but we don’t. We use Facebook to spy on people we say are our friends and to somehow try to feel better about our lives by posting all the awesome things we’re doing/seeing/feeling/eating/hearing. If I used Facebook to actually keep up with my high school or college friends, I’d actually be talking to them. Some of them I hadn’t talked to since before I graduated high school! Instead, I basically use Facebook to read their updates and feel terrible about how little I’ve lived of my own life at 23.
I wasn’t even friends with these people anymore. So why did I still care about what happened in their lives?
Because I wanted to feel like I was doing something with my life that was better than theirs. That’s it. I would try to post pictures of me looking pretty to get likes. I would post my good news in hopes that people would comment on it. And when I didn’t get as many comments/likes as I’d wanted, I didn’t feel as happy with my looks or my good news.
It suddenly didn’t seem worth it anymore. I will admit that I am reluctant to delete my Facebook account for a couple of reasons. The first is that I have a lot of family on Facebook and I do use it to keep up in their lives. The second is that some of my friends really do try to organize get-togethers through Facebook with groups of friends and it’s easier to do it on Facebook rather than on a dumb-phone that doesn’t know what a group text is and vomits at the sight of one. (See the picture below.)
I know I still have a struggle ahead of me. If I really want to change the way I use Facebook, I’ll have to delete something like 80 of my 100 “friends”. Or I have to make sure all of my close friends and family have some other way to contact me through my phone or email, which people seem reluctant to do anymore.
It’s going to be hard. I’m still going to feel like I’m missing out on news with my friends. But at the same time…I feel a little like I’m putting my life back in my hands. I’m not trying to impress others with my news/photos. I’m just trying to live my life as I want to.