The keyword is “I”. This isn’t a post on what I think you should do.
I’ve gotten this question a lot since deactivating my Facebook account:
“Why did you get off FB? Just curious.”
So here is a more complete and a more honest answer then I can reply in a simple text.
When I first created my FB account, it was like I had struck nostalgic gold. All of the sudden, I could have a more personal “relationship” with people from my past than I ever actually had with them.
We didn’t even have to interact really. I could just see what was on their mind. What their life was like through tons of pictures they probably weren’t specifically intending for Jason Avera to see. I could see the types of music/movies/books/religions/activities that were on their profile page and really get a better understanding of these people. Where they chose to vacation or ended up after high/middle/elementary school.
Even better, I could search the name of any girl I had ever known to be attractive and friend request them in hopes that they would accept and I could get to know all of these things about them as well.
“Wow, she aged so poorly.”
My original FB friend goal was 1,000 FB friends. Meaning,that I would pretty much accept any FB friend request that came my way. Unless it was spam. I would joke about that goal to people. But it actually was a goal. I thought it was unattainable and so in my mind if I ever hit 1K, I was going to throw a massive party and my 1K FB friend was going to be the guest of honor and I would hoist them up on a chair and we’d carry the chair around the party room all night like at a Jewish party.
I’m not even sure Jewish people do that. Sorry.
As an introvert who considers himself a “thinker” as opposed to a “feeler”, I was so comfortable in this new social media. In some ways, I could make myself known in more depth than I ever could in casual conversation. I could be witty, sarcastic, encouraging, and “like” things to show my approval of others with just a few quick strikes on the keyboard. It was so much easier to express myself on FB than it was in face to face interaction with people.
And did it feel good when I’d post something and get 12+ likes on it. That would make all of the other time I spent on FB not knowing what I was doing seem worthwhile.
I’m not saying any of this “tongue in cheek” as a passive backhand to anyone else. I’m totally serious. Like I said, this is about why I left Facebook. I have no issues whatsoever with anyone being on it.
Back to me.
Some things I learned from my time on FB that led me to get away from it:
1. There is a time for everything. There was a time in my life where I was friends with certain people or certain groups of people. Some of those relationships were healthy, others weren’t. But they had their moments in my life and were very influential on me. And FB was awesome to get to peek into those people’s lives and see what they were up to. In the same way that maybe a 10yr high school reunion is a good way to catch up and spend some time dwelling on the past. For me, FB seemed to take all walks of my life and combine them into this huge melting pot that I could check as often as I wanted to. I could put my mind back on some amazing times in college with my roommates or be reminded of friends I had from vacation bible school (church summer camp) as a kid. I could reconnect with some friends I had from old jobs. I could see a picture and remember the good feelings of being innocently flirtatious with a girl when I was in middle school. My specific fault was that, for me, FB blurred the lines between times that were meant to be a memory (good or bad) and my present life. I was finding that it was easier for me to resurrect things (good or bad) that were meant to no longer live in my heart and mind. Since these things were constantly in my FB feed every single day, they slowly made their way into my mind and into my heart and into my life…every single day. There was a time…a great time…that I was involved with different sports when I was younger and I was really good at them. I love those memories. But it doesn’t mean that those memories should flood my life today on a regular basis. That time is over.
Which leads to:
2. FB was a catalyst for me to live in a fantasy world. If I was bored, I could just check FB. If I was lonely, I could just check FB. If I was mad, I could just check FB. If I was super excited, I could just get on FB and post about it.
If I was experiencing something amazing, my first inclination was to go to FB, even more so than to currently experience whatever I thought was amazing. Rather than live my life, I was beginning to unintentionally chose to either focus on my past via FB or engulf myself in the lives of 1,000 other people (900 of them I wouldn’t talk to otherwise).
This is a “me” problem. I tend to avoid real time feelings on a regular basis and FB was the easiest and most comforting way to do this.
I’m not saying that FB isn’t real life. But for me, it was a way to hide from my real life and my real feelings and my real pain and my real happiness and my real love.
That doesn’t sound very manly. But it was very true.
It had become a fantasy that I could go to every hour of every day and temporarily forget about…well…I don’t remember.
3. I was placing my happiness in the hands of people that I didn’t actually care about. Toward the end of my time on FB I started to realize that I was mostly annoyed at most of the things people posted on FB. Articles, status updates, requests to be involved in Farmville type games. Just a constant flow of things that I’d see, that would make me unhappy. I am aware that the point of life isn’t to be happy. But seeing things on FB were genuinely making me less happy. And this was ultimately my responsibility. For a while I started “hiding” everyone that ever posted anything that soured my mood on FB. To try and get it down to only the people that I would say that I really cared about. Then I thought about the fact I was allowing FB to constantly annoy me. And those annoyances outweighed the positive sides to FB.
4. I used FB to judge the piss out of people. That one is pretty simple. I am a very discerning person. That is a gift. The downside of that is if I am not honest with my discernment and with myself I can turn that into a great ability to judge everyone around me. It is super easy to judge someone you don’t know. And if I was honest, I would say that I didn’t really “know” the majority of my FB friends. Which made them prime candidates for me to use as a way to elevate myself in my own eyes as I tore them apart in my own mind. Best thing was that they had no idea. And I could feel so good about myself. Unfortunately, I was asked to preach a message at the church I used to work at. And in doing so, God used this specific tool of judgement of mine to show me how I was labeling people I barely knew and elevating myself in the process. And Jesus came for the sick. And my FB judgements produced self-righteousness. And he didn’t come for that. And I was humbled.
5. It became sort of an addiction. For me this can happen with anything digitally. And my initial reaction is always: No, this is just the world I live in. But for the first week or two I ever went off FB, I found myself pulling my phone out to check it. Then I would realize what an odd time to be checking in FB. At a stoplight. Going to the bathroom. At dinner with friends. Watching a movie. I didn’t realize the gravitational pull that FB was having on my everyday life until the first time I took a break from it. It was addicting. It was a constant change/update of information from people that I knew and so I constantly had to check to see what had changed. And as with any addiction, it was allowing me to escape the reality of my life. But the dangerous part was that was so hard to see that it was a problem. In the same way an addict would say, “It’s just once in a while. It doesn’t effect anyone else in my life”, I could make up similar gibberish to justify how often I was on FB.
I have a Twitter account that I mainly use for checking up with sports stuff and comedy stuff and news stuff. I really like Instagram because photos are so difficult to offend. You usually admire a picture in some way and it is hard to make a hateful Instagram post.
Leaving FB is just one step for me to live in my own reality in real time. I’m learning and loving the moments when I realize it is totally amazing to be bored for a few minutes. Or to allow my mind to wander and think about things that are affecting me negatively. And to not escape into FB or video games or beers or Netflix. It is way harder to dig into the thoughts deep in my mind. In the same way I am enjoying my life much more in real time since being off of FB. For now, Twitter and Instagram don’t have a hold of me the way that FB did. So I can just sit in the love of a moment and experience something beautiful and maybe a couple hours later post a pic about it or something.
I can’t really see getting back on FB. Maybe if I want to promote something I can see that. But for me, my life is better without FB. And I’m in no rush to go back to it.
But most all of my friends and family have one. And that is totally cool too.