That Time I Gave Up Facebook


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A couple of years ago I gave up Facebook for several months.

There were several reasons I decided to cut myself off from Facebook, and there were several reasons I decided later on to give Facebook another chance.  The whole experiment taught me a lot about other people, and a lot about myself.

I never really wrote about it, though I considered starting a post on my decision several times.  The words just never seemed quite right.  However, recently a current Facebook friend of mine posted on her decision to give up Facebook for a little while, and it made me think of when I did the same - so I thought that maybe the time had come for me to write about it here.

I went back and read a rough draft that I wrote at the time about all the reasons why I wanted to get off Facebook - and though reading that did refresh my memory about a lot of the things that I don't particularly like about Facebook, there is a general tone of exasperation to that post.  I was just done.

I think I first started to realize there was a problem when I would close my browser feeling dissatisfied or annoyed.  I was friends with a lot of people that I had known in years past.  You know the ones that I'm talking about - friends from high school, "friends" that had rejected me informally long ago, though thankfully without severing the relationship with a dramatic de-friending gesture.

But I was still connected with all these people - people who might have hurt me, or people who had always been competition to me, whether in reality or just in my own head.

I got to see their lives play out on cyberspace.  Graduations.  Marriages.  Pregnancy announcements.  Houses.

Sometimes it hurt because I was sad that these friendships ended.

Sometimes it was jealousy spurred by something that someone else had, and the frustration came because I wanted that thing, or thought I had worked much harder for that thing.  The whole comparison game that it is so hard not to play.

Then there was just the general negativity from people who always seem to want to air their gross laundry where everyone can see it.

I felt beat down.  I felt dissatisfied.  I felt I felt inadequate.  It left me wanting to post about everything fun I was doing to prove to everyone else that I was doing cool things too.  I was someone interesting, and they were missing out if they weren't friends with me.

As in real life friends.  Not Facebook friends, because "Facebook friends" can mean anything.

Looking back, I think these things were largely a heart issue, and I can't blame Facebook as much as I blame myself.  Pride was a huge factor here.  The bottom line is that I wanted to feel good enough, and I thought Facebook made me feel less than.

I just ran around in circles like this for years before I started to realize that maybe there was a problem here.  Ironically, the effect of Facebook on my own pride was just an afterthought at the time, though now I realize that pride was the biggest problem I needed to recognize with my Facebook use.  But that is not what made me give it up.

One day I realized that a lot of the girls who I really wanted to be friend with, but that I didn't really see outside of Facebook, actually thought that we were friends.  They thought that keeping up with me on Facebook meant we were friends, even though our interaction only consisted of an occasional "like" or comment on one of my posts.

I didn't want cyber-friendships with these people.  If we were going to be friends, I wanted to be real-life friends, and I started to wonder if Facebook's tendency to create a false sense of friendship was getting in the way of actually forming real friendships with these girls.

I started to hear stories of gossip and drama that people had experienced on Facebook.  I never experienced much of that personally, but I started to feel a bit convicted.  Even though I had never started an actual rumor based on information on Facebook, I would be lying if I said that I had never drawn incorrect conclusions or gossiped to my husband about something someone said on Facebook.  I may not have let anything escalate to the level of traditional, rumor-spreading gossip, but I did judge people's motives and invent narratives in my own head about situations I had no actual information about.

I also realized through comments from extended family and friends how much information about my life people got from Facebook.  It seemed wrong to me somehow that these people got to know these things about my life without ever actually talking to me.

True friendships can't form without conversation, but on Facebook you don't have to have that.  People don't have to put out any actual effort to be friends with you, because all the things they might want to know about you are probably on Facebook.  I started to wonder if people might be more likely to reach out in real life if they didn't know everything that was going on with me already.  It made me feel a little "spied on", to be honest, but how could I blame anyone but me?  I was not only providing the information, I was encouraging the "spying".

The final straw came when someone who I rarely saw gathering a little bit too much information about me from Facebook.  It freaked me out a little, and all the other things that had been bothering me came rushing to my mind.  In that moment I made a decision that it was time to take a break.

I deleted my account that same week.

Click here to read the rest of my Facebook story!
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Stephanie said...

I totally understand, Callie. I go back and forth but have decided to keep it for now...I don't post very many personal things but I do have family across the country so it's nice to share pictures back and forth and it's an easy way to keep in contact. The biggest downside for me is I do feel the pull too often to just "check fb for a moment" which probably adds up to too many wasted minutes in a day, so I need to set some boundaries in place.

Meghan said...

Hi Callie,
I had been thinking about writing a similar post after doing some major self-reflection of my own. A friend sent me a link from a sermon series that is currently underway at her church. It's brilliant and so very relevant. It talks all about the effect that social-media has on our walk with God. I think you would love it. Here's the link if you're ever interested in listening/following along. http://www.lifechurch.tv/watch/struggles/
Hope you are all well. I can't believe how adorable and BIG all your babes are getting. xo

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