I have never had an Instagram account, SnapChat, Twitter, or any others that exist outside of Facebook. I had a Facebook account and currently have a LinkedIn profile, which I don’t consider social media as it is meant to be a professional networking site and truthfully, I still never really use it. Anyway, in 2016 I took the summer off of Facebook, so all of my social media, mostly trying to break myself of some bad habits (i.e.: mindless scrolling, the avoidance of the silence I so desperately needed, checking my notifications only to fall down the rabbit hole of garbage for hours), and a bad mood which I had tried to combat by posting only positive things and focusing on happiness. I was still shitty. While at first I did have some withdrawals and I was always out of the loop with the new craze (which honestly, I’ll tell you I am so grateful for that), overall I felt pretty good. It was only a couple months. No big deal. Totally doable, and it didn’t have to be permanent, right? I missed my “friends” and feeling “connected” to the world, and all that…yep I’m gonna say it, bullshit. So after some deliberation I decided to go back. It didn’t take long for me to realize the mistake I had made.
The election was revving up and I can only describe the feeling every time I got on Facebook as heartbroken. I watched as my feed filled with hatred and cruelty from people I adored and considered friends. It broke my heart to see people I had so much love and respect for being awful human beings. I read the countless posts calling people with different views horrendous names, cussing out people they believed they’d never met because how could a friend of theirs possibly have a different belief system? I knew that not one of those people would sit across a table from me and say those horrible things to me if they knew that’s who they were speaking to, and maybe that’s what began to hurt the most. It broke my heart every single day to see how comfortable people were with throwing hatred out into the unknown, not realizing or caring who it hit. Were the people in my life really so awful? Were they hateful, angry, uncaring human beings? I knew they weren’t, but then why would they want to represent themselves as such? I couldn’t answer that question and knew if I wanted to continue to love the people in my life I had to walk away. So I left and I’ve never looked back. I’ve learned a lot in this time.
The first thing that I learned is that pretty much no one knows when my birthday is without Facebook telling them. Glad we’re such close friends. But you know I am not without guilt- I don’t know theirs either. Know why? Because we aren’t actually friends. Half of them I couldn’t point out in a room if I had to. What good are friendships like those? None at all. They aren’t going to be there when it matters so good riddance to bad rubbish I always say. And do you think people tried to reach out because they missed me or really even noticed I was gone? A couple did, but all in all not so much. Would they have been able to? Nope. They don’t have my personal information. Why? Because we aren’t really friends! Few of my connections were substantial, most not even real. The people that need my information have it. Facebook doesn’t change who matters in my life.
It showed me the lack of connection that is really ever-present in social media and we need to stop trying to pretend otherwise. Facebook, or Fakebook as I like to call it, gives the false impression that you’re connecting with people. I realized that people have never been lonelier than they are now in a day of constant “connection”. It was the day that I gave up Facebook that I realized how lonely I really was. It became clear that once someone is off Fakebook, they seem to cease to exist in your world. Seeing my friends’ posts every day made me believe that I was in contact with them and that I knew what was happening in their lives so I didn’t feel a need to reach out and connect. Ah, the irony. Getting off of social media forced me to truly connect with my friends and family in a real way. To exist again. Sit down with them to meals or coffee, making sure to reach out in phone calls, cards, etc. Spend time catching up with what is really happening in our lives. Once I did reach out I quickly saw how much I didn’t know and would never have known otherwise. I remembered how important it is for people to know someone is there in support of them. And just for reference- posting “I’m sorry for what you’re going through” or “liking” something is not the same as being there for someone. Not even close. My relationships are so much fuller and richer than they have ever been.
I think the biggest revelation I had was in the way my mood changed. I realized how much all of that stuff affected me. People are so open to airing their drama to strangers and it fills our feeds. The other chunk of people like to post that one moment of happiness as if it is a representation of their lives, rather than the truth. It’s become a pissing contest on extremes. It seems to be either “woe is me, my life is so horrible, pity me” or “my life is so awesome, envy me.” It either brings you down because you’re reading about so much negativity, or because you see so much amazing that you feel your life fails in comparison when that really isn’t the case. People forget that others know them in their real lives and know that everything they post is complete bullshit. Those shining highlights cover up a lot of shade. That 1% of their existence is being portrayed as the 99% and it’s just not real. You want attention? Connect with the true friends in your life. Quit seeking it through lies and suffering. I guess what I really came to understand is that I don’t have to prove anything to anyone, not that I’m suffering, or that I’m achieving and even more- I have zero desire to put either one on a public forum. That’s my business. And without Fakebook, I no longer feel pressured to.
It’s been pretty great to see how much brighter my mood became once I was off Facebook, how much better my relationships have become, how much more fulfilling my life is. I have been so much happier and freer since I made the move away from social media. I have chosen a life of beauty, kindness, love, acceptance, and positivity and while I know my choice isn’t for everyone, it was the right one for me and I’ll never turn back.