At the beginning of the year, nothing to do with resolutions but more to do with the holiday downtime and opportunity to think, I decided to leave Facebook.
I deleted the app from my phone at first. For a day it felt like something was missing. For a week l left it and realised, there were only a handful of people who I was in touch with on Facebook and nowhere else. I messaged them, exchanged details, exchanged lovely conversations via iMessage, and, was nearly tricked into thinking I should stay on Facebook. But no, this was me taking the time to reach out personally, and this is the way it should continue.
People told me things like ‘Wow bold move!’ and ‘I really wish I could’! as if I had announced I was moving to the other side of the world or signing up for a marathon.
I’d thought that I was staying on Facebook as a means of keeping in touch with friends, but I realised, I wasn’t communicating, just scrolling endlessly for something worthwhile, and, when I found it, brain too exhausted from reading rubbish to have the energy to write anything of value… tap… I communicated my response through a picture of an approving ‘thumbs up’, or even a ‘heart’, if you were lucky. How is that social?
It wasn’t easy to leave. Not for any sentimental or social reason, but because Facebook make it pretty difficult to do so. It’s designed to keep you there, to keep you scrolling. To keep you looking for something uplifting that will give you that endorphin boost.
Post something and keep fingers crossed for multiple likes and a dopamine hit.
In an ideal world I’d just socialise, in the real world. But there’s not time for all of that, and it’s hard to get together with everyone. I like sharing stories and images, and always have since before the internet, when I was a child that wrote letters, and postcards, and made telephone calls whilst sat on the bottom stair.
Telephone calls. Why not? What an advancement the telephone was, yet we’ve gone back to one line (if you’re lucky) ‘telegrams’ through Facebook.
Facebook is training us to care less, scroll more, and forget how to properly communicate with our friends.
Remember those coverall emails or photocopied round-robin letters that people used to circulate at Christmas? We thought they were impersonal and almost an insult to receive, but now you’re happy with a digital thumbs up? There’s some psychological conditioning there!
The alternative to keeping in touch or performing to a large audience, (which is essentially what you’re doing on Facebook, don’t kid yourself that it’s personal), is obviously to use other social platforms like Instagram (or MeWe?) but if you want to share a lot, like me, what’s wrong with a newsletter?
When we were all desperately unsubscribing from mailing lists to get towards the Mecca of inbox zero and free up our time, we didn’t stop to think what we’d do with that time – scroll social media searching for interesting content that speaks to us.
Why not sign up for that newsletter instead? Everything in one place, a quick skim for the bits you’re interested in, just delete it if it feels too much, or save it to a folder and read it on a quiet evening, instead of clutching at your phone every five seconds to see if someone’s posted something of value, shared a new meme, or liked your cat picture (they used to love my cat pictures!)
For me, this is the way forward. Although I have every intention of starting the ‘anti-email party’ I also would rather be free of Facebook and receive a compact digest of news. Bring back the round robin! (Ah, cute!)
Would you like to join my mailing list? I’ll send you good things every now and then.