Taking a Break from Facebook
When I described Facebook to friends who didn’t use it, I likened it to a virtual coffee shop in the neighborhood. You went in– you saw friends, acquaintances, friends of friends and utter strangers. You could stay for five minutes or linger for hours. You could get involved in heated arguments, or not. You could wish people happy birthday, bon voyage. You might enthuse over their latest efforts or cute pictures of their babies, or share outrage at some horrible story. You could catch up on the news.
Two days ago it became very clear to me that I have been spending entirely too much time in the Facebook coffee shop. It is, of course, a facet of the depression that has cloaked me to while away the hours doing nothing. What better way to make that possible than to tune in to Facebook and tune out.
Except that you don’t tune out exactly. I mean, sure, you tune out the world around you, but instead you get caught up in arguments that are not your own, you worry about maintaining your domination in Bubble Fish Safari (and if you weren’t inclined to worry about that sort of thing– they send you messages: “Kathy just beat your score in Reef 12, are you going to stand for that?” ) You post witty things, snarky things, stupid things. You find yourself “caring” about things that you truly don’t care about– and in fact, you only care about them to the extent that you find you are supremely irritated. All the time.
That’s when you know it’s time to go home.
The thing is that I am a social animal and I enjoyed checking in to see what everyone was up to. It was like being able to check the mailbox 284 times a day. And I will enjoy it again. I just need some time for myself. I don’t know how much time– enough to get my head screwed back on in a halfway decent fashion. Enough so that I can regain control of this wildly galloping horse named “Wasted Time.”
In the two days that I’ve stayed away I’ve written three essays, designed and printed a membership roster, got meeting notices out on time, wrote two actual letters, sent some long overdue notes by email, played with the dogs, watched NCIS, lolled around in my underwear, did the laundry, made dinner, filled out some paperwork for the dog show, fooled around with a new website I’m developing, read some material about Orville Wright, perused a catalog, went grocery shopping and gave my husband a haircut.
And I haven’t even been hard-core-cold-turkey about the Facebook sabbatical. I have checked my Facebook messages a couple of times, and I have checked on the kennel club’s Facebook page, as that is my responsibility. I glanced at the news feed, but didn’t scroll, didn’t “like” anyone’s status, photo or meme, didn’t delve further into a mysterious remark someone left on last night’s essay, didn’t allow myself to be dragged into the current.
A very dear friend of mine left Facebook altogether six months, and she doesn’t miss it. She described her experience there as artificial and thought it turned your friends into “followers.” She didn’t use her real name on Facebook and employed her Facebook page to direct traffic to her blog for the Irish diaspora in Montana, and to maintain a dialogue on the same. It was sometimes difficult for me to “find” my old friend under all those layers, but occasionally I did, and she often posted photos of her beautiful daughters and I felt connected to her, if only by a tiny window. When she de-activated her account that window shut. I really miss her.
Facebook has brought people into my life that I would otherwise have never met– people with whom I share a passion for dogs, or horses, or literature. Kindred spirits brought together by accident of geography or politics. (There are of course people whose names you see on your “friends” list and you think — “Wait– who is that?”) It has also returned to me friends from my childhood, and my high school, and those years squandered in a rock and roll haze. Without it, in all likelihood, most of those people would have been lost to me forever and I swear that brings tears to my eyes just to type those words.
So, of course, I will be back. Most probably won’t have noticed that I was gone. And that’s okay, I don’t need to be the center of anyone’s universe other than my own. I just need a little time off to get that universe in order, my planets in alignment, and more light in my heart. ‘Till then, Auf wiedersehen.