I think my breakup with Facebook began when I suspended my Facebook music page a few months ago. Looking at the page was just too depressing. I never got very many likes or comments, no shares ever. I confess, I was not doing much to promote the page, save for announcing posts on my FB profile page, and I certainly do not believe I deserved to be noticed (got to earn that), but still, I was hoping for a little more interest. And let's be honest, you put up a Facebook page to get noticed, right? Call me vain, but why else do it? Wait, because I'm vain? Hmmm... Anyway, down it came.
Then my friend Dave Tutin announced he was leaving the service. Then another friend announced she was taking a break. Then a third posted musings about doing the same.
Despite having killed my own page, my reaction to all of these folks was WHY? I mean, I killed a page, for godssake, not a profile!
Facebook profiles are great. They let you check in with friends close and not so close, share your goings-on and thoughts with all of them, reconnect with long lost souls, be alerted to the new Star Wars trailer. I mean, what's not to love?
Then, just by pure chance, I read an article about the relationship between materialism and happiness and how being more materialistic makes us less happy. What does that have to do with Facebook? EVERYTHING. Man, every time I checked the service there were as many ads as there were posts from friends, as well as ads posted by friends. And all those ads, as we all know, are essentially snipers trained to shoot "bullets of want" into your brain. I don't need anymore "want". I need less. And my brain is already damaged.
The article went on to say that we should "cultivate a mindset of gratitude" to avoid the trap of materialism by taking the time to notice what is good in our lives and being grateful for it and expressing our gratefulness, especially to the people closest to us. Doing so increases happiness and reduces stress. And I thought about how often Facebook was attached to my face like those creatures in Alien while RIGHT NEXT TO ME were the people who mattered most.
Then I thought about a book I'm reading called Wherever You Go There You Are and how it reinforces the importance of being present in your surroundings, and I got to thinking even more about how I was often not present -- and not just at home, but also at work, on my walk to a coffee shop, sitting at a red light. The list goes on because Facebook, as everyone knows, goes everywhere we go.
The final straw came in the form of a flare up at the breakfast table. There I was with my two daughters and Catherine and my nose in -- you guessed it -- Facebook. Catherine asked me to put my phone away and I resented her for it. Just one more comment or post or whatever it was I wanted to do. And in that moment, I realized how often this had happened: my being upset because I was being torn away from Facebook to look at actual faces and engage with them and not with people 10s, 100s or 1000s of miles away.
Don't get me wrong. I will miss seeing what my Facebook friends are up to. I will miss posting about my life and commenting on the lives of others. I already do! But there was one other article I read lately and it was about the importance of saying No in life, of paring away the things that are not truly essential so you can not only spend more time on the things that are, but also quiet the siren song of the things that are not. And for me, as I struggle with work and family and my fading music ambitions, it's time to say No to some things and Facebook is one of them.
Will I be back? I don't know yet. Like any proper breakup, I will give it a bit of time and I've learned to never say never, but this feels serious.