After 12 years with no breaks, I have given up Facebook. I didn’t disable my account, I simply removed the app from my phone and I don’t look it on the computer. I’m off the grid.
It’s weird, but it has kind of become a fun challenge. Not all of it is good. I miss seeing pictures of people’s families, vacations and their day-to-day observations of life. I miss seeing the jokes of a dozen or so of the funniest people I know. I’m connected to most of my Facebook friends only through Facebook. They don’t know where I live, I don’t think they have my phone number and I can’t see any of the private messages they send me. Those are the unfortunate things about my temporary leave of absence.
For a while, I tried to adjust my settings so that I didn’t have to see the many posts of people who have opposite political opinions from me. It’s not that I don’t respect opposing opinions, but it is that I don’t want to hear your unsolicited opinions on things every day. For the most part, a lot of that was screened out through the “unfollow” and the “restrict” settings. It didn’t catch all of it though. I can’t even tell you what percentage of my Facebook friends feel the need to share every political thought in their head with all of their Facebook friends because I don’t know. I do know that all it takes is for a handful to slip through the restriction cracks and you end up learning reasons why you wouldn’t want to be real (not Facebook) friends with that person. It’s interesting how people have evolved from mostly keeping some things private and not freely sharing so much of their thoughts with online acquaintances to the complete opposite of that. More of a regression than evolution, I suppose.
I’m far from being innocent in this. Often times after reading an opposing opinion that was on my newsfeed, I would put a post on my wall that I found to be an interesting truth or what I thought was a funny jab at the opposing viewpoint. Most of the time I did that, there was always someone who took offense to it. Just about every time, the person taking offense was someone who made caustic posts themselves. I didn’t (and don’t) feel that an apology is warranted in those situations. I’m often sorry that the exchange led to hard feelings and the destruction of otherwise fulfilling relationships but I’m not going to apologize for a post. Sorry the situation happened but not sorry that I’m going to read your posts that I don’t agree with and then you’re going to get publicly insulted and offended when I make reference to an opposing viewpoint? I’m not sorry about that. I have no use for people who can dish it out but get nasty when they get a taste of their own. This type of thing has happened several times in the last few years and each time it wore me out.
Admittedly, I am to blame for half of it. Most of the time, I can ignore things and go with a “to each his own” philosophy. As a pandemic, police brutality, racial tensions and the odd mannerisms of American leadership occupied the news (and timelines) at every turn, my ability to ignore things started to wear down. I am a believer in the philosophy of remaining silent indicates a tolerance for certain behaviors. As the All Lives Matter chorus started in along with the defenders of what I view as indefensible behavior from our “leaders” started to appear more and more on my timeline, I started to have enough. On occasion, I would post something that I knew would likely upset some people and I’m not proud of that. I struggled at first with whether or not to make Facebook, the place where I go to have lighthearted fun, the place where I speak out. For the most part, I couldn’t make that full transition. I didn’t want to use it for that kind of platform when it has been a place where I post jokes, short stories and pictures and videos of my family. I decided that, just as I would normally, I won’t let any of that stuff get by me without saying something in my personal interactions. That’s a nice idea, but it became nearly impossible for me to remain silent on Facebook.
Rather than continuing to worry about maintaining my self control and becoming someone that I don’t want to be, I elected to take my first break from Facebook. I’m only on day two and one could argue that if I’m posting a lengthy, introspective blog post about it, that it hasn’t been easy on me, but it has. I haven’t checked it and haven’t been curious about what’s going on there once.
I made my announcement to take a break in more of a dramatic fashion than I should have. Over the years, I have seen many people threaten to disable their account and have also seen the pathetic and hollow threats to narrow down friend lists. If you’re going to do that, just do it. Don’t just threaten us with it, take action. I explained some of my reasons for taking a break, advised people not to bother responding to my post because I’d be off before I could read it and said I didn’t know when I’ll be back, because I don’t know if it will be weeks or months. I’ll be back, but I need to recharge my ability to ignore things that I don’t like. I need to figure out why some people who call others “snowflakes” don’t see the hypocrisy in being appalled at an opposing viewpoint. I may never figure that out, but having some much-needed time away from arguing with people I went to high school with and haven’t seen since isn’t worth the time and energy that I started to put into it. I have had a really nice life without those people being a part of it and can easily go back to that. If a person isn’t adding value to a relationship, there doesn’t need to be a relationship – it’s that simple, I guess.
Anyway, that’s my story. I’m excited to dedicate some time to writing a book for my family. The idea came from a very thoughtful Father’s Day gift from them and I haven’t been as excited to try something new like that for a long time. So, everything is good, I’m getting my head on straight and trying to work on keeping from falling into a pit of behavior that is generally out of character as compared to my relatively peaceful natural state of being – all of this while the world is crumbling around us.
Things will get better though. They always do.