A few months ago, I decided to deactivate my Facebook account. I did it because I had several speaking engagements coming up and I was heavily involved in a few art projects and I wanted to rein in my energy. I wanted to pull in and stop taking in external stimuli. I stopped listening to NPR, I stopped watching TED talks and I left Facebook. I fully intended to re-open my account.
Once I stopped using Facebook, I came to several realizations about the social platform and I have since decided that I'm done with it.
1. I realized that I was using Facebook as a lens for my own activities. As I planned things or thought about my experiences, I thought about them through Facebook posts. I was porcessing my world through snippets and creating an online persona that lacked depth. Interestingly, it was motivating. I was compelled to complete tasks so that I could share them, but I found that once shared, I tended to lose interest? I think it enabled a lack of depth in my personal experiences.
2. Facebook created a myopic view of the world. One great thing (and sometimes dangerous) about the internet is our ability to tailor our virutal experiences. In some cases, it leads to people who are extra paranoid because they only visit conspiracy theory sites. It can be damaging, but it can also be really rewarding. When I was on Facebook, a lot of my viewing time was not shaped by my own desires and values, but instead by those with whom I have (often) randomly become acquainted. Once I left Facebook, I started reading art blogs more faithfully. I read more in general. The effort to pull back actually opened a whole new world. (I'm back on NPR and TED now). *I'm still waiting on my TED talk to be published and will post it here as soon as it is.
3. I think I spent a lot of time on Facebook trying to both express myself and not offend anyone in a public forum. Facebook is public in a way that a blog isn't. That is, people visit a blog freely because they're interested in what it says and they leave freely. You can turn people off on Facebook, but it's different becasue they're still a part of the conversation; you're just not seeing it. You're esesentially left out of something going on in the room. I don't know...I feel more free to express myself in this blog even though I recognize the public nature of it.
4. I feel a little less judged and a little less judgemental without Facebook. These are emotions that I haven't quite processed and don't fully understand, but that I think are important for my quality of life.
I do have less information than I used to have and that's a pain.
I have decided to log back on to Facebook for a week basically to reconnect with the few people I lost touch with and to let them know I have this other virtual presence if they want to make contact. After that, I think I might actually delete the account instead of just deactivating it.
I'm keeping my G+ account, but I rarely ever use it.
I think in the end, my life is better without Facebook. I've spoken to several people about this and many of them respond with "I can't imagine not being on Facebook." It seems inconceivable in a way that I totally understand. I think we're wired to seek communication and shutting it off is a little counter intutitive for many of us. The truth is though, that I genuinely feel better about myself. I don't know that my communications are any more meaningful or present now.... A lot of anti-social media research seems to focus on the quality of interactions.... I interact less socially now, unquestionably. It's a huge relief. And it opens this new blog space for me to really be reflective about my own life, whic is nice....