I quit Facebook about a month ago.
I still have an account because I need it for work – a surprising number of business comes in through Facebook, and I maintain 3-4 Facebook Messenger conversations on any given day. However, I stopped posting updates back in November and even went to the trouble to “gut” my Facebook account. I found a $2.99 Firefox extension which deleted everything, including 500 pictures and almost 3,000 status updates. Aside from a few profile pictures, my account is now essentially an empty shell.
Why I did this is a long story, involving an intersection between my own narcissism and insecurity. If there’s any platform in the world more capable than Facebook of exaggerating those two things, I have yet to find it. I essentially spent seven years of my life trying to be interesting on Facebook and feeling insecure that I wasn’t as interesting as I hoped to be. It’s embarrassing to admit that, but there you go.
Withdrawal is hard. It’s been difficult to avoid the kneejerk reaction to share stuff. A couple of times a day, I find a web link that I want to tell people about, or something I could take a picture of and share. I keep having to remind myself that I don’t do that anymore.
Last night, my wife and I watched the 1995 remake of Sabrina with our eldest daughter. After it was over, I immediately thought about posting something about it on Facebook. I could tell people about this movie, I thought, and (the thought behind the thought was…) people would “Like” it.
But I don’t do that anymore. Weirdly, I found myself I looking over at my wife (#1) and daughter (#2) on the couch, and thinking, “Hell, I only got two ‘Likes’ out of this…” Nevermind the fact that they were actual “Likes,” meaning actual breathing humans who are important to me and that genuinely liked something I did.
But here’s the rub: not all “Likes” are created equal, and it’s taken me a long time to acknowledge it. Oh sure, in the back of my head, I knew this was true. But as venal and superficial as I am, I somehow equated dozens of meaningless button presses from people I barely knew as having some worth.
So, I watched a movie last night and got two “Likes” for it – my wife and my daughter. I’m on my way back to an emotional state where that is simply enough and I’ll know that those two “Likes” are more important than all the others.
If you are in this state now (and be honest…), stay there. Over almost 20 years, the Internet has turned me into a damn superficial person, and at 43-years-old I’m finally in the process of extracting myself from that aspect of it.
It’s going to take a while to get there (I’m learning that Facebook is just the beginning), but I’ll be a better person for it.