It has been six months since I pulled the plug on the time-sucking, privacy-invading machine that was my personal Facebook page. Since reading these posts by The Elizabeth W and Jo Princess Warrior on this very topic, I have been inspired to evaluate.
Am I still glad I did it? Yes.
Do I miss it? Sometimes.
Would I ever sign up again? No.
Do I always talk to myself like this? But of course. Don’t you?
Most status updates and tweets are not at all the cutting edge, super-efficient, revolutionary way of communicating that they are made out to be. When you boil it all down, most of them amount to this:
The legendary message-in-a-bottle of old.
Everyone in the world (practically) is sending out their own personal messages in a bottle to a faceless universe, hoping that somebody else in that universe will find that bottle, uncork it out of curiosity, and respond to it in some way. Exuberant, bummed out, scared, bored…we all want someone to find our bottles. “Hi. I see your bottle.”
If I still had Facebook, I would write, “I am moving to a new town,” on a piece of parchment, roll it up, shove it down in that glass bottle, and send it out to sea. Then I would wait to see what happens. Maybe my friend from 4th grade will see it. But maybe she won’t. Maybe that former co-worker will notice it bobbing there in the waters of her news feed. Maybe she’ll even “like” it. But really, it is all a rather passive exercise in communication.
At times like this, I sort of lament my inability to make an all-encompassing, explosive, impersonal announcement: “Hello entire world, and everyone I have ever known or met in my whole entire life! We’re moving! BOOM.” It’s certainly easier to let everybody know that way. But on the flip side, I don’t have to assume that the heavy Facebook-ers already know the big news when I see them, which leads to awkward conversations…Should I bring it up first? Or will they? Since after all, I know that they already know, and they know I’m probably about to bring it up? This is weird.
Okay, I’ll bring it up. “Well, we’re moving!”
“Yeah, I know! I saw that on your Facebook status!”
That particular response always always deflates the wind-in-the-sails of sharing something with a friend, and the wind-in-the-sails of receiving it personally. If we are going to keep tabs on each other through statuses, then the need to continue to communicate on an individual level, person-to-person, diminishes considerably. We can all just “know about” each other’s statuses.
Putting messages in bottles gets the job done, but I’m not sure it gets the job done in the most fulfilling and beneficial manner for social creatures like us.
Although, I admit I do occasionally miss it when someone says, “Did you see that hilarious picture that so-and-so posted on Facebook?” Um, no. (But invariably, that person will proceed to uncork the bottle by whipping out their iPhone and showing it to me…so, nothing really lost there).
As much as I enjoyed composing my messages in bottles back when I did that, I have found that I enjoy even more that they are no longer running through my head willy-nilly, a never-ending mental news ticker of my life, not to mention everyone else’s. There has been a general quieting-down of the clamoring voices in my head. Social media can make you crazy. (See above: talking to myself).
I think I ran out of bottles and parchment.
Peace, be still.