I've been on facebook since 2006. I have no idea what I thought it would be like when I signed up. I just thought that eventually people would be on it that I might want to know. And slowly, but surely, like flies into honey, they fell into it, too. What did I expect to happen over time? I don't know really- but I initially felt it would be Nirvana. A place of peace and happiness. Unicorns. And as people came onboard, I had the feeling that they, too, had a honeymoon phase. "oh my gosh, I haven't seen you in THIRTY years- how have you been" "I thought you'd jumped out of a window in LA when you did some LSD- that was the rumor and hey,look, you're ALIVE" "wasn't high school awesome!" "wow I miss our sorority sisters", and then it slowly degenerated into a weird world of narcissism for some people- a world of "if you don't believe the way I do politically, then I am going to feel free to call you (indirectly of course because I'm not THAT rude) a jackass, racist, misogynist, fool", on and on and on. People showed how judgmental, challenging, and unfriendly they could really be. I'm not talking about most of my FB friends- but I do get the posts their friends make on my friends pages- and I am often shocked. I mean, isn't this supposed to be a SOCIAL network.
Soon I found myself posting the inevitable "corrections" to the extraordinary misinformation people readily posted. I couldn't believe people just REPOST whatever they agree with- like FB is a magical land where nothing has to be fact checked on a neutral site. You know, say what you will about Wikipedia- at least it has some TRUTH in it. I couldn't believe how lazy people were about throwing out something that was a vast untruth and then choosing to let people believe it must be true because, well, it was on the INTERNET or something. So, I'd research and somehow feel I had to make everything right.
So I decided to cut some people- when I hit 574 or so "friends"a couple of years ago- I couldn't take the huge amount of data that showed up in my feed. SO I decided to cut anyone else who had more than 1000 "friends" of their own. That got rid of about 200 or so people who didn't even notice I wasn't there anymore. It wasn't that I didn't LIKE them- it was simply that I didn't MISS them. Most of them lived and breathed having over 1000 friends. (Well, my late cat had 5000 friends until those facebook spies decided a cat shouldn't be on facebook - they've changed their rules since then.) I only kept a couple of those megafrienders because they DO know who I am and they are my friends. Then I got rid of the people I didn't know. Yeah, I know- what the hell am I doing with people I don't even KNOW! But I knew OF them, and they might have been friends with my husband or family relatives I didn't know. I did keep the ones I'd met and liked. But the others- pfft.
At that point, I developed a habit of "unfollowing" the people who said crap I didn't agree with and who upset me if it was on my feed in the morning. That's not shallow- I didn't join facebook to be called NAMES because I was in a political party or didn't like their stance on an issue. So I had about 60 friends that I "unfollowed" so I didn't have to see or hear their pious, self righteous opinions about how someone like ME might have to change so they could smugly go on with their self-indulgent rants with me on their side.
Then there were my friends who simply didn't THINK about what they were doing. Stuff they would never, ever, ever say to my face or their other friend's faces, they had no trouble posting as a meme.
My little piece of heaven, my little golden field of reconciliation and reconnection became a daily chore. And it went with me wherever I went. It was an app on my phone- just so I could tell everyone I was at a movie or play or restaurant, even though I knew no one really gives a damn about that. My cat would paw my leg and plead with me to go play with her- but no, just a minute my sweet girl, I had to read every last word of some post. If I still had kids at home, I would hate myself if I was on facebook and didn't read stories or help with homework or cook or clean because of facebook.
I had to face it, I was addicted to facebook-that miserable little experiment of Zuckerberg's. As he got richer off of every click of mine on some ad that looked interesting, I got poorer. Not in money, but in TIME and in LIFE....I realized I wasn't reading like I used to and I wasn't walking every day or even sitting on the porch. I was watching my life disappear into a social world that I wasn't sure I was enjoying. I even started taking those meaningless quizzes!
What was worth it? Well, certainly my friends who are so dear to me and I love them are worth it. Those are my REAL friends- not acquaintances. They are people who, at various times, have had my back when I needed them or at least had the decency to respect me. They are the ones who I knew in high school and college and my neighborhood; the ones who helped me raise my kids, get through a divorce, welcome me into a new family and hold my virtual hand when they know things aren't right.
I love reading their happy news- the new babies, the new houses, the weddings, graduations, dinners with their friends. And since I have some VERY funny friends, it was worth getting some joy and laughter at the things they wrote. I got closer to some people in the area- my favorite charity, my DAR friends, some former choir friends. I got neighborhood news on a group page. I loved seeing my college sorority sisters on the alumnae page. There are very good things there.
But the constant NOISE of facebook is far too much for me now. It was always something- everyone would be so positive and happy and then someone would decide I needed to take the problems of the world on my shoulders. GUESS WHAT? I don't need facebook to do that. I don't need to see abused animals or fight for some sort of arbitrary social cause that may or may not be my sort of cause, or argue about politics (because no one is going to change what I think anyway), or hear criticism of Christians, etc. The list of negative stuff became endless. And you can share and sign petitions and name call all you want- it just makes some of your friends miserable. WHY? Because they don't agree with what you post but won't tell you to stop!
Someone posted something a couple of weeks ago that really upset me. This was a good- no, a great friend of mine. She probably didn't even THINK about it. It was a post against my political beliefs. It wasn't against a candidate or office holder she disliked- it was about the people who vote that way. She didn't like my political party. Now, that is her right- in fact, that is her privilege as a citizen to have freedom of speech. But somewhere in her head, she forgot to be KIND and ask herself how many people she would, at the least, annoy and at the worst, turn into people who would be furious. I told her I had to unfriend her- and she was shocked. I explained I wasn't saying we wouldn't be FRIENDS, because forever I will be her friend- I was saying I can't see you say things about what I believe because it hurts me. It was the first time I'd confronted someone- and it was because I love her and I cared enough to tell her why I would just have to exchange emails instead. She said the post wasn't even that important to her- she just put it up there because she thought there was truth in it. And like the intuitively kind person she is, she asked me to stay. And I did.
She wasn't the first by FAR- she just hadn't considered that it might really hurt and offend some of her REAL friends. Not the fake world of the internet full of people trying to get you to be part of their clan so the hate can be magnified.
And THAT is the crux of the problem with facebook- you can hurt your REAL friends by saying things that would offend them - things you would NEVER say if they were having a cup of tea with you in your kitchen. Facebook makes it EASY to be a jerk. How odd that in the ether world where everyone would post something about bullying, they don't see their own behavior with their friends and acquaintances.
Before facebook, you'd have to send a flamemail. Or post your rancor anonymously. But you didn't do it to people you LIKED. You were considerate to them because you'd see them face to face. On facebook, you can join groups that spread hate or misinformation-but that at least doesn't touch your friends.
SO I am now going to do the 99 days. Starting on August 1. I am late to the game because I was part of a huge online fundraiser for my favorite charity and I wanted to get my matching funds in there and see it be a success. Because I wanted the JOY of being part of a group that wanted to DO something besides sit at their computer to vent.
So, it is back to the Stone Age of the internet for me- back to email and blogging . For 99 days. I am going to miss the pictures of kids and pets and outings and grandkids, etc. But not much else.
:-) I'm not sure this is going to be that hard.