As a result of some really crummy things that happened because of a Facebook post last Friday, I decided to unbook my face, at least for a while. It’s interesting how Facebook and other social media tend to very rapidly take over one’s life, given half a chance. I was tired of the drama, tired of the pettiness, but also there was another reason I must admit to myself. I wanted to see if I could do without it. That answer should be obvious, and it bothered me that to me, it wasn’t.
I’ve been active for a number of years on Facebook. I first joined when I was living and working in Atlanta, when it was far less popular and prevalent than it now is. Few of my friends were on Facebook, and even fewer actually used it daily. It had no real-time messaging facility, no videos, and scant ability to post pictures. There weren’t any groups or corporate pages. So everything started innocently enough, as a momentary diversion a few times a week.
Pretty soon, though, Facebook began to grow, expand, and morph into something no one expected — a mode of communication that came closer and closer to including everyone. I reconnected with people I hadn’t communicated with since high school or even earlier. Friends in distant cities, whom I used to call or write very sporadically, suddenly were sharing their daily lives and activities, making me feel connected. Some of my best friends, scattered around the country, were suddenly at my fingertips, and that was great!
Eventually Facebook became such a time-suck and such a convenience that blogging, which had formerly been my way of releasing pressure, sharing my life with friends, and exercising my writing skills, fell by the wayside. I still blogged when I felt I had something to share in long form, but microblogging via Facebook began to be my primary medium. Blog therapy, a name one of my friends coined to refer to my habit of spilling personal feelings onto my blog to externalize them, slowed to a trickle and then stopped. And since sharing really intensely personal stuff on Facebook, where not only friends but acquaintances, business associates, co-workers, and potential employers might see it without even trying, was a very bad idea, I couldn’t do that, either. The relief valve stuck and the pressure began to build. I think it’s been building for a long time.
So I shut off Facebook, at least for now. Of course, my job requires that I participate in social media on behalf of the company, and I’ve always had a second Facebook account set up purely for that. None of my personal friends are on it. It will be handled professionally and not as a diversion but as a work activity. I’ve deleted the Facebook app from my phone, my iPad, and all other devices I use. Only my work computer’s going to have access. I’ve been off the Facebook grid for a week as of tomorrow, and it’s been surprisingly easy to stay away.
Some of my theatre-related activities will suffer. Directors like to set up Facebook groups for their shows and use those as their primary communications medium for schedules, notes, and planning … I won’t be able to participate. There have always been a few non-Facebookers; now there’ll just be one more. But other than that, there’s nothing I really NEED to do on Facebook. And having back the time it used to consume has been unexpectedly advantageous. I’m trying hard not to be annoyed when others I’m spending time with are consumed by social media.
Meanwhile, I’m going to return to writing on this blog. Here I feel I can be much more free with what I write, confident that less than half a dozen people will really care to read it, and it feels a bit like a homecoming.