From November 4 through December 4, I stayed off Facebook. It was the longest period of time I’ve been off Facebook since I joined in May 2007. I deleted the app from my phone, I logged out of my account, and, save for a couple instances where I needed information from public pages for companies or organizations, I did not go on Facebook once for 30 straight days.
I didn’t miss it. And I don’t feel much of a need to go back.
There were a few frustrating instances, to be sure. I didn’t deactivate my account, so I still got an e-mail every time I would have received a notification (and towards the end, e-mails about things I wouldn’t have received notifications for, like random pictures random friends posted, as Facebook’s way of saying, “Look at what you’re missing!”). It was particularly frustrating in instances of events or messages where I couldn’t respond, but in each of those situations, I found a way to work around my inability to respond through Facebook.
But I certainly didn’t miss hearing about the artificially perfect lives of people I once knew. I certainly didn’t miss hearing the opposite extreme, how unbearably awful the lives of some people I once knew have become since they couldn’t find a parking spot within 20 feet of the store this morning, and it was drizzling #firstworldproblems.
I don’t think I’m going to rock anyone’s world by saying I’ve battled insecurity issues for most of my life. I think everyone deals with insecurity to one degree or another, and a quick peek around Blogland shows you I am far from being the only blogger who has ever not been particularly fond of herself for one reason or another. One thing I realized near the end of October, though, was just how much Facebook magnified my insecurities, encouraged me to entrench myself in the comparison trap, and enabled me to be even more cruelly, unfairly judgmental than I naturally am.
“Oh look, another engagement of one of my peers. I give them…three years. Maybe five.” <– blatant judgement to mask my insecurity over my own relationship status.
“She worked out again today? Didn’t she already do Insanity and then went to hot yoga for another hour? Girl’s definitely got a problem.” <– judgement.
“Eff. That girl I worked with at camp finished her marathon faster than I finished mine.” <– insecurity, comparison.
“Look how much weight she’s lost and how many people have nice things to say to her about how good she looks. No one ever tells me I look good in my profile pictures.” <– insecurity.
“Well, well, well. Mr. Beautiful from high school has sure packed on the pounds now that he’s not a three-sport varsity athlete. Sucks to peak at 17!” <– judgement.
And it wasn’t just looking at what other people posted on Facebook — I totally played into this. After I finished the Chicago Marathon, I posted a picture of my medal on Facebook. Part of that was due to the fact that I was incredibly proud of myself (and rightly so, I think) for completing 18 weeks of training and covering 26.2 miles, and I was so proud that I wanted to shout it from the rooftops. But that wasn’t the only reason. Though I may not have consciously thought this when I posted it, that medal was a huge, “Screw ALL of you,” to everyone I’m friends with. Screw your relationships, screw how much you looked down on me for not being a good athlete in high school, screw all of you who ever in any way made me feel inferior, because LOOK WHAT I CAN DO. Look what I did. Be impressed, because I am BETTER THAN YOU. Look at me, living a successful, urban life, all you married going-nowheres I went to high school with. Look what I can do with my free time. I ran a freaking marathon. Love me for what I’ve accomplished.
And yikes, team. If my constant judging of everyone else via Facebook wasn’t enough of a reason to get off, the fact that I was actively using Facebook as a way to try to make other people jealous of my life sure was.
Sometimes I’ve found myself wondering, “How on earth did people keep up with each other before Facebook?” and I’ve realized: they didn’t. They kept up with the people that mattered and let everyone else fade into the past. Do I really need to know the girl who sat across from me in seventh grade science is married? Do I really need to know a girl who lived on the opposite end of my floor for one semester freshman year of college is spending the holidays with her boyfriend? Probably not.
Facebook certainly has its benefits, but I think taking a month away from it was one of the best things I’ve done for myself in quite some time. I don’t need to know the mundane minutiae of the lives of people who are no longer a part of my life. I don’t even need to know the major developments in their lives. Goodness knows I do a fine job of finding things to be insecure about without social media’s help.
I’ve been back on Facebook for the past couple of days, but only to respond to event invitations or messages. I haven’t reinstalled the app on my phone, and I’m still logged out of my account on my work computer, where I spend the majority of my computer time. I don’t know if I’ll keep this up forever, but when I saw one of my good friends changed her profile picture a few days ago to one of her and her boyfriend and instantly felt the green monster creeping up in my stomach instead of genuine happiness–and this is one of my good friends, not a random kid I who went to high school with me–I knew it was hardly the healthiest place for me to spend my time. If all I’m going to do is judge people or try to give them a reason to judge themselves in relation to me, I probably shouldn’t bother with it at all.
Sorry no photos 😦 Thoughts, though? Anyone else have a similar experience with Facebook or social media in general?