I am approximately two months free of Facebook. You could call it a social experiment, or a life change. Either way, if you have ever entertained the idea of breaking away from Facebook’s seductive clutches, you may be interested in my musings on the big F.
To me, Facebook is like a toxic friend. It builds you up and tears you down. It gives its approval and then withdraws it, leaving you uneasy and desperately seeing to regain its affections. One day, there are lots of likes and comments on your pictures, and the next barely an acknowledgement, leaving you feeling unloved and alone – your self-esteem hanging in the balance.
Most of us enjoy the voyeuristic element of Facebook. We peer at photos of our friends, family and acquaintances. Then there are the ex-partners. It if was an amicable split, you don’t want to delete them. This is all fine and dandy until the photos of the new girlfriend appear; then it’s like an ice pick through your heart. Before Facebook, you may have remained blissfully ignorant. Now, at the click of a button, you know her name, age, job, what she “likes” etc. Doesn’t it all seem creepy? Is this really necessary or healthy?
For me, deactivating my Facebook account felt liberating. I felt a sense of freedom and that my life was my own again. If you worrying about being seen in the same outfit twice on Facebook; if you are spending lots of time thinking up intelligent, witty Facebook updates, so that others will perceive you in a certain way; if you are concerned with endlessly posing for photos to get the best, impossibly sexy shots for Facebook; if you are comparing yourself to others in your news feed and, as a consequence, feeling dissatisfied with your life, then perhaps Facebook is not enhancing, but detracting, from your enjoyment of life. At least, that’s how it felt for me.
My main argument in favour of staying on Facebook was that I needed it to stay in touch with friends. What I’ve learned since is that my true friends don’t want to lose me just because I’m not on Facebook anymore. They viber me, they text me and they email me.
What about friends overseas? Well, once again, you can give them your email address, and if they’re a close friend, Skype them. I think Facebook does keep old friendships alive, but it also keeps them artificially alive, long past when they would ordinarily have run their natural course. If you’re lonely, wouldn’t you be better off getting out there and making new friends that you can connect with face-to-face? Is Facebook distracting you from pursuing real, human interaction? Is it not just a poor substitute for the real thing?
Since I’ve gone off Facebook, I have more time to read books, to research and learn online. I would waste so much time on Facebook, mindlessly scrolling through my newsfeed. And what did I learn? Pointless trivia and gossip that, for the most part, is obsolete within a day. The danger is that while you get caught up devouring someone’s holiday snaps and fretting that your ex’s new girlfriend is skinnier than you, you’re distracted from the issues that really matter. You have less time and space in your brain to think about global warming, wars and inequality. You’re also distracted from living in the moment and being fully present while you’re scrolling through your newsfeed.
If you want to join me, to separate from your ego and not be caught up in crafting a perfect image of yourself, removing yourself from Facebook is the way to go. Nobody is the character they portray on Facebook. It’s in your hands. Stop being a narcissist and let Facebook go! I thoroughly recommend it.
Words: Lauren Bray
Image: Shaun Butler