My friend Sarah quit Facebook.
Just quit it – not even an announcement or proclamation – she just quit.
She was craving the freedom that comes with just not knowing so much. Not having too much information. Reclaiming her life.
Facebook has brought some amazing things into my life. I’ve reconnected with friends that I had lost touch with after moving from Saskatchewan to Toronto. I have shared mothering advice with my former party friends and virtually prayed with a friend facing an uphill battle. I have been offered jobs, “virtually” attended weddings and births (seeing pictures makes it seem like you were there, right?) and had the chance to right some wrongs with people that I never would have connected with without Facebook. Facebook has been the catalyst for a growing business that I love (my blog, right here!) and provides me with a platform to learn, share & grow.
Yes, in many ways Facebook has been great and enriched my life.
But, sometimes it has been awful.
I know I’m not just speaking for myself when I say that I detest knowing every.single.time. I am left out of something, because I have had friends tell me stories about:
- Finding out that the two couples you were once closest to still hang out all time…but never ask you to join in (you’re always busy with your kids).
- Knowing that a friend had time to visit someone 20 minutes from your house but never even bothered to contact you.
- Consoling a friend who realizes her best friend has a fiancee that she didn’t even know about.
- Seeing people repost and support virtual stranger’s artistic endeavours when they couldn’t even tell you the title of one your published stories. (ok, that’s about me…lol)
- Reading ‘super mom’ posts about amazing and enriching days with a houseful of kids, while your kids are sitting, unwashed, on the couch eating soda crackers and watching hours of Toopy and Binoo just so you can guzzle a coffee and sneak in a shower. (guilty here too)
- Finding out your ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend is pregnant (you know, the one he “totally wasn’t seeing” when you broke up with him) and looks freaking amazing.
So here I sit on the fence about quitting Facebook altogether.
Sure, you take the good/you take the bad. Sure, you would have found out anyway that certain new friendships were blossoming while old friendships are fading. Sure, you can’t always be important to everyone. Yet, we all are relegated, at one time or another, to feeling like complete and utter crap because of Facebook.
And so I’m left to wonder, is maintaining a few ‘virtual’ friendships and connections worth it all?
Is Facebook really that central to my life that the thought of deactivating my profile for even a month causes me panic?Are selfies and potty training woes more important to me than my peace of mind?
If Facebook is making all of us feel like complete and utter crap, why are we all so focused on it?
I’m not entirely sure of the answer if I am being completely honest.
There is a huge part of me that loves living online and being part of the lives of others in a virtual way. But there is another part of me that cries daily to just know less (and probably share less about my own life too), just the way my friend Sarah felt. There is truly a part of me that would like to quit Facebook altogether.
Sometimes knowing it all, seeing it all, being part of it all can feel overwhelming and down right intrusive. Sometimes being in the thick of it all can be maddening and frustrating. But sometimes being present online and in the lives of those who live halfway across the world is the best thing about my day.
My friend Sarah has now quit Facebook for two months. If she is honest (because I made her promise to tell the truth), she misses it. She doesn’t miss the religious and political posts [raise your hand if you’re right there with her!] but she does miss the interaction with people she just can’t possibly see in real life. She misses the relationships she gained through Facebook and (because she’s being totally honest) she is probably going to go back online.
So maybe that answers my question: Facebook doesn’t need to be the centre of my life, but it is part of my life as I live them right now. The key might be to not getting caught up in what you’re missing thanks to the plethora of knowledge that Facebook now gives us, but rather the joy it truly can give us by helping us foster new relationships and grow current (or past) ones.
Maybe choosing to quit Facebook isn’t the answer after all. Maybe choosing to embrace the good and ignore the bad is how we have to approach social media in this day and age.
But if we are being truthful, can we really and truly live without having at least the OPTION of knowing it all…