A month or so now, I finally cracked something I’d tried and failed many times before – I quit Facebook.
True, it took a traumatic breakup of a friendship to make this happen. But every cloud and all that.
This morning, it being my birthday, I cynically sneaked a peep to see if I got one of those digital balloony greetings things (I didn’t; I forgot that I don’t have my birthday on my profile anymore to avoid the data harvesting that I used to think was me being paranoid…ha ha, thanks Cambridge Analytica).
The thing is, I realised, that for me Facebook has turned from that friend who loved me and made me feel good about yourself, to one who is constantly sniping at me and who you leaves me with that sinking anxiety feeling every time we have coffee. And yet, it’s also that one friend who holds the key to so many others. Breaking off this relationship would be social suicide. Or would it?
Here’s a few things I miss, and those I don’t, about the most enduring of the social networks.
I miss my comedy group. I set this up a year or so ago, and have made some lovely real-life friends through it.
I miss an occasional funny status update from an acquaintance.
I miss being part of the zeitgeist, seeing news and reaction as it happens (OK, perhaps not as instantaneously as on twitter, but Facebook still reacts within minutes or hours). But conversely, I find that without social media, I don’t feel the same pressure to be the first to be aware of every reaction and counter-argument. In fact, I feel slightly more rested, now that I get my news from a couple of trusted sources and can arrive at my own opinion, without considering a host of variables. Old-fashioned perhaps, but I’m 43 today, so maybe it’s time to hang up my placard and start narrowing my mind…
I don’t miss the constant negativity spewed from certain domains within my digital world. I’d not even really noticed this until this morning’s brief scroll. Like, I know (many) straight white men
are trash display problematic behaviour but it’s actually a bit demoralising seeing evidence of this dripped before my eyes 1,000 times a day. I have no problem with anyone posting this sort of thing, by the way – I think it’s an important tool in letting off steam and building solidarity. I just hadn’t noticed until now how draining it is when you’re subjected to it constantly.
I don’t miss the endless and meaningless merry-go-round of “you like my post so I’ll like yours”.
I don’t miss being exposed to other people’s shallow and banal shite (in fairness, I don’t have many people like this on my FB, but the algorithm always lets a couple through).
I don’t miss the constant stream of adverts for things that I just looked at a couple of minutes before.
I miss keeping in touch with people, but without Facebook, I’ve realised I’ve more time to focus on the relationships that are important to me, and where the other person also has the same investment to send a text instead.
On balance, I’ve come to realise that what I loved about Facebook (the sense of community and friendship, the personal element, the increased chances to organise politically) have largely gone now, to be replaced by an endless feed of tuppenny “shock” opinion pieces, sniping, vitriolic comment threads and endless commercialism.
All friendships run their course, and I think this is the end for me. I’ll still keep my hand in – Facebook is too intrinsic to my life to duck out completely, and no one would read this bloody blog if I didn’t post it on there. But I will be keeping you at arms length from now on, old friend.
Thanks for the algorithm-fed memories.