On Tuesday, July 31, 2018, I deactivated my Facebook account. That sentence is a curious paradox that perfectly illustrates the motives I had for undertaking such an action. The fact that something so trivial has taken over life in such a dramatic fashion that it needs to be announced when one decides not to partake any longer is telling.
And, the reaction my mother had to discovering my Facebook account was no more is perhaps even more telling. In a span of 15 minutes she had called me five times, texted me three times, called my brother and my best friend and texted both of them, then called and texted my husband. When, after 15 minutes she had yet to hear from me, she got in her car and began the one-hour drive to my house. Because, I guess, my very life essence is inextricably bound to my Facebook account and the only reasonable conclusion to its ceasing to exist is that my life was somehow in danger.
Ladies and gents, we have a giant social media problem.
Ultimately, the reasons I decided to deactivate are not uncommon realizations people across space and spectrum have been arriving at already. But I am going to list them out for you anyway.
Facebook is a huge time suck.
The last straw for me, if you will, was that the night before, I spent no less than four hours on my phone. That is four hours where I said nary a word to my family voluntarily, four hours where I reacted with irritation and impatience if a member of my family dared interrupt my mindless scrolling. I am ashamed to admit that this is far from a rare occurrence for me. I have zero willpower, friends. I will think, “What is the harm in a quick check-in on Facebook?” only to pry my eyes away in horror of the hours lost almost without noticing.
Comparison is the thief of joy.
Subconsciously, the constant scroll takes a serious toll on my ability to be joyful and grateful in my present life. I am always comparing my life with those of my Facebook acquaintances; look where she went on vacation!; oh, so-and-so is pregnant again; so-and-so has perfect children and stays home with them all day; look at her promotion — it is never-ending. And it is especially dangerous because it often is acquaintances whose lives I am comparing mine to. I am comparing my life at its most unpleasant with theirs at their most carefully curated. To be honest, that is just as unfair to them as it is to me.
Obsession with image.
This one is probably the hardest to admit to. It isn’t something that I like about myself, but, when I am posting things on Facebook it usually has a sub-purpose of aiding in my vanity. I post something I think is funny, or something my kid does that is cute, or about some great outing we went on as a family, and then obsessively check to see other people’s reactions. This realization cuts deep. It is like I am laying my family at the altar of acceptance and waiting every notification that someone else thinks I am funny or my kids are cute or that they approve of our latest excursion.
Stolen moments in the name of vainglory. “Pics or it didn’t happen,” amirite? How is one supposed to properly gain approval from online acquaintance without taking pictures of all the moments one can? And, when a perfectly sweet moment happens, what do I do? I don’t simply bask in it, eternally grateful in the depths of my heart and soul. No. I, essentially, rob that moment by stopping it in order to take a picture. Sweet moments cherished only in the heart and the memory are undoubtedly sweeter than ones shared to the masses.
In the weeks that I have been without Facebook I have honestly hardly missed it. Facebook is a site that I would visit countless times per day and spend ungodly hours on, and it truly contributes so little to my life that I have hardly noticed.
I have started writing letters, I am actively working on bettering my real-life friendships, I am a much more patient mother, and I have finished two books. On Tuesday evening, I washed the dishes after dinner, slowly. I wasn’t rushing off to check something online. Instead I watched my three-year-old twins have the sort of playful conversations that only three-year-old twins can have, and I cherished that moment all to myself.
Have you ever felt the need to reclaim your life from social media?
Copyright 2018 Amanda Torres; Originally posted at In Earthen Vessels.