Post-Facebook :: Welcome to My Playground
On Christmas night, I gave myself the gift of quitting Facebook. I didn’t wrap it, but it was a surprise. I didn’t know if I would have the balls to do it. Is there a lady equivalent to balls? Ovaries don’t seem to pack the same punch.
As someone who has long utilized social media for business — my own and others’ — and enjoyed it for pleasure, it felt like an addiction. A bad one, not the good kind like exercise or the first flushes of romantic love. Social media was starting to feel like a playground with peeling paint and sharp edges, a place no longer fun.
In the wake of the election and reading friends’ posts who supported Trump, I felt visceral disgust every time I scrolled through my news feed. I looked at people I otherwise respected and I questioned how they could be my friends if our values and thoughts on decency were so divergent. Then came the “news” stories about the election and the comments associated with the posts. Reading the vitriol lobbed among strangers in comment sections made me question humanity. Not just question my nation, but also the world — what are we coming to?
So I quit.
I know America is in a divided, tender place right now. As a “coastal elite” who is accused of being blind to the rest of the nation, I have spent the past months reading articles and books that add nuance to what I already knew about the dispossessed and disadvantaged of our nation. An education that started as a child of a poor, single mother and was buttressed by a liberal arts education rich with sociology, psychology, and anthropology. Without the distraction of social media, recent weeks have resulted in hunts for information that have taken longer but yielded deeper roots. No longer lazy, locked in the “Culture of Me” so easily perpetuated by a Facebook algorithm, I’m lit up by the nuance and richness I’ve found in my wanderings. Because really, how many stories from The Atlantic can one person read?
I used to give myself occasional, 30-day detoxes from Facebook. Like people who give it up for Lent, there was comfort in knowing it would be waiting for me when I returned after a fixed period of time. This time is different, I don’t know when or if I’ll ever go back. I like this new, almost analog landscape of reading the entire newspaper instead of one article fed to me by Facebook; of watching my local television channel to learn more about a news event; and having “real life” connects with folks who knew me only on Facebook or who relied on the platform to get a false sense of staying current on my life and being a “friend.” My social calendar and conversations have never been more full or fulfilling as whole swaths of topics previously covered in social media are now news in real time conversation.
“Oh, you took a trip? Cool! Where’d you go?” or
“Tell me more about little Suzy losing her tooth. Yes, I’d love to see a picture on your phone. Did the tooth fairy visit?”
Robust conversations have bloomed where a “Like” would have been the extent of the exchange in the past.
Friends are beginning to notice my absence on Facebook, and a few have commented that they miss my insightful posts. That feels immensely gratifying to hear. My aim has always been to “look with me, not at me” when I share. I abhor selfies and the narcissism that pervades social media. My promise to those who have asked is that I will share some of the the thoughts rocking my week in this space. Facebook — the land of cat photos and false news — was never a good place for them anyway. My posts can be heady, and though Facebook was, at times, a launch pad for snippets of thoughts fleshed out better on here, I prefer the flexibility of this site. It’s so much easier to link to thoughts, books, lectures, and ideas.
So, hello. Welcome to my playground. I’m glad you’re here.