Note: I’ve sat on this post for almost a month now, and finally feel compelled to post it.
Lately friends and family have been taking note of my undeniable absence from Facebook. No, it doesn’t have to do with the unimpressive stock since it’s this summer’s IPO, nor is it about the constantly changing privacy settings (though that too is pretty annoying). It more or less has to do with my exhaustion over the constant stream of boastful Facebook updates and the lack of personal relationships it nurtures.
Last month the Journal’s Elizabeth Bernstein basically painted the picture of what I’ve been feeling over the last several months — that all of this bragging is pretty much of out control. When I first started to notice it about a year ago, I took a short hiatus from the FB and focused on my family, my pregnancy and my life. Then I had the kiddo and really took a break because I was going through the fourth trimester and needed to focus on him and me. Then I started posting again and life was good…. Well, not really. During my maternity leave I would get bored breastfeeding in the middle of the night and I would troll the FB, Instagram, even Twitter, all in the effort of looking for a little entertainment while still feeling connected while in the throws of having a newborn. Then I realized I was obsessed with checking the FB every time I sat down. It was getting annoying.
Then I deleted the app from my phone, swearing I wouldn’t check it again for at least a month.
Two days later I reloaded it.
Two days after that I had to explain to M why I reloaded it after complaining about how annoying I was finding it. I was addicted.
Fast forward several months and I’m now three months clean and sober from the FB on my phone and I only check it 1x-2x a week to see if I have any messages or updates that need tending to. And usually I don’t.
Sorry Facebook friends, but I’m sure you married the world’s best husband and that you have the most amazing, well-behaved children, or that you just saw Paul McCartney walking down the street. But, I really don’t care. I would care if you texted me or called me to tell me these things, however. I think there is a difference in how we’re communicating and that the FB is a huge contributor to this.
We’re no longer personal and in many cases we’re ignoring the need to nurture our personal relationships.
If you had an amazing anniversary or you’re excited to be celebrating another fabulous year doing (insert cool job, marriage, kid milestone), that’s great. I’m happy for you. But I’d be happier learning directly from you versus reading about it on a twitter-like stream.
This might work for you, but it just doesn’t work for me anymore.
I’ve heavily debated deleting my account, but am hesitant to do anything so rash. I’ve also actually started editing my friends list and tossing people on the chopping block that I’m really not that close to. I haven’t been very on top of this because I’ve found that I’d just prefer not to deal with it.
In addition to all the bragging and over-sharing that happens there, my biggest problem with it is the lack of truly personal relationships it nurtures. Sure I do enjoy “catching up” on what old friends from grade school or high school are up to once in a while, but I don’t enjoy much else. While I’m politically liberal (there, I said it. Shocking, I know), I also don’t want to see a political pissing match on FB. These conversations are best had face to face, in my opinion.
Then there’s the spamming via messages. Don’t even get me started…. this drives me insane. If you’re coming into town and you want to see me, then send me an email and let me know. Facebook has enabled poor ettiquette and in actually creates more distance and less community. Hence me wanting to chop down my friends list. I mean, sorry folks, but I might have partied with you a few times in college or high school, but we weren’t really friends, were we??
But aren’t you being a hypocrite, you ask?
Sure I publish my blog updates to the FB and I use Instagram like a crazy woman on crack, but they’re different in usage for me. I’ll probably start a new page for the blog in the near future so I do everyone a favor and stop spamming friends who don’t want to read this crap. (See? I’m thoughtful.) And I know I’ll continue using Instagram (even though they’ve been purchased by the FB for a ridiculous sum) because I like it. Sure there are braggarts there too, but I’ve built and rebuilt some interesting and cool relationships there and in a different way. While it’s the Twitter with pictures and less pontification, I’d much rather see what others are seeing and share that experience with them. And there’s not much room for political debate (but I certainly have a blast following the campaign correspondents like Sara Boxer and Ari Shapiro).
No doubt that Instagram will soon go the way of the FB, but at least I can enjoy it for the moment.
So what am I going to do with my FB account? I’m not really sure. I’ll keep it because it’s a good way to see what people are up to once in a while, and it’s how my book club communicates, but doing anything else — deleting friends or organizing them so I only see close friends — seems like too much work/a time suck and I don’t think I care that much.
Is it just me? How do you manage the crazy? I’d love to hear your thoughts.