SO. I’m about to start the process for officially archiving and deleting my Facebook account and thought I would expound a bit on the thinking that led to my decision.
I’ve recently been thinking a lot about information in general, and specifically, how new information affects our lives. I don’t know about you, but I like new information. Like, a lot. Mostly because I just like knowing things, but also because new information can and should encourage us to reevaluate our beliefs and opinions and change them when presented with solid evidence for a contrary position.
CHANGING YOUR MIND WITH GOOD REASON IS AN ADMIRABLE AND NECESSARY PART OF SANE, RATIONAL LIVING, PEOPLE.
But at what point does new information simply become superfluous? Especially new information that’s being thrown at us without much effort on our part, as opposed to us purposefully seeking out new information about something specific? I mean, learning about a quirky new species of bug or how a certain candy is traditionally made can be super fucking fascinating. But, like, then what? Now I know those things and… *shrug*
Now, as a writer, I’m always certain any random new information I come across can and will absolutely become fodder for some future writing project, so I’m constantly making notes of ideas and concepts and saving articles to come back to at some later date. But how often do I actually come back to my cached treasure trove and use any of it to create something new?
More so for the things I specifically make note of in either Notes or Evernote, which I’m trying to be better about using because it’s pretty nifty. But far, far less so for all those dozens and dozens and DOZENS of articles I “save for later” on Facebook. My fucking GODS, there’s a lot of them. Admittedly, many of them are recipes, of which, perhaps 10% will actually, eventually, maybe be tried. And a lot of them are things I’ve read and imagine I would like to reference again at some later date, either as evidence to prove a point or as something I’d like to expound upon in a blog post that will most likely never actually get written.
However, a sizable portion of those things I “save for later” haven’t even been read in the first damn place and will never, ever see the light of “later.” But in the moment, when I read a headline or blurb that intrigues me in some way and I decide whatever it is is definitely worth reading, but doesn’t quite meet the criteria for definitely worth reading right now, I add it to my saves and, in doing, somehow feel like I’ve been productive. Nevermind the fact that caching something for later that you never actually come back to is a complete and total fucking waste of time. That doesn’t seem to matter in the moment. I looked, I skimmed, I clicked. I did a thing! Yay, me!
Oh, dopamine. Your little hits always seem way more valuable than they actually are, damn you.
The basic fact is that constant use of smartphones and social media is just really fucking terrible for us. Seeking and finding new, potentially awesome things satisfies our brain in a really compelling way and the process, regardless of the actual net effect, becomes addictive. And the stakes go way up when that dopamine reward is unpredictable, which is why we’ve become obsessed with having access to all the things, all the time, because we never know precisely when the latest Thing will pop into existence that we absolutely, totally must know about right away.
But, like, must we? Do we actually intrinsically benefit from knowing that Thing? Or is it now just another thing we know?
In the lead-up to officially leaving Facebook, I’ve been on much, much less frequently, and when I do pop on, I’ve been consciously attempting to view my feed in a more objective manner. And in so doing, I’ve realized that the vast majority of posts I see on a daily basis can be summed up in one of five ways:
People are fucking AWESOME!
People fucking SUCK!
Nature/science/the universe is so fucking COOL!
And, like, you know what? In general, I’m WELL AWARE of all that shit already. They aren’t things I need to constantly be reminded of. I mean, yes, we obviously all need our daily dose of cute and funny, but seriously, I live with five-year-old twins, a sleek pig of a land hippo, and a diminutive owl-lemur-dog-cat; I’ve got the cute more than covered. And I am personally actually super fucking hilarious, so I can often be found simply laughing my ass off at myself, no outside influence needed.
Now, the flip-side of what I tend to consume on Facebook is what I tend to present on Facebook, and that, of course, is all about ME. Look at ME, I’m funny! Look at ME, I’m cool! Look at ME, I’m educated! Look at ME, I care about other people and animals and the planet! Look at ME, I’m actually a total idiot sometimes!
But, I don’t know, I feel like if you’re my friend on Facebook, you already know all that…? Just like I know that if you’ve managed to remain on my friends list this long, you are also hella cool and smart and funny and generally a good person, so, like… What are we doing here really?
Because I don’t feel like these interactions are particularly meaningful when all is said and done, and I also feel they can make what should be actual meaningful social interactions more awkward and less, well, meaningful. How often do we not verbally, in person share things about our lives with people we care about because we just assume they saw it on Facebook? Or how often do we launch into telling someone we haven’t seen in a while something important that happened in our lives and they interrupt with, “Oh, yeah, I saw that on Facebook.” And then how often can we not help thinking at that point, oh, you DID, did you? But what, it wasn’t good enough to react to or comment on? Uh-huh. I see how it is. *eyeroll*
That’s not just me, right?
And I fully admit that Facebook stokes my tendency to judge, and as that is a trait I really, really struggle to understand and distance myself from these days, I hate how easily I find myself doing it while perusing Facebook. Because I actually don’t want to know some things about my friends, you know? I really don’t want to know what kind of pseudoscience you’re into, I don’t want to know that you think casually racist memes are funny, I don’t want to know that you actually believe everything good you’ve achieved in your life is solely due to some supernatural influence, I don’t want to know that you’ve so completely bought into the patriarchy that you “don’t need feminism.”
I DON’T WANT TO KNOW THAT SHIT.
So, really, this comes back to the idea of “making space,” which I’ve previously written about. All this stuff I either already know or don’t actually want to know takes up valuable space in my brain and thought processes and totally gets in the way of what I want to be doing, which is creating. Because a couple of years ago, my therapist referred to me as “highly creative,” and I was all, wait, quoi? And he was all, uhhhhhhh, yeah, for sure, dude. And since then I’ve been slowly coming to terms with the fact that I am, in fact, a creative, and that creating is what I, in fact, want to be doing with my time here.
But I need to prioritize it and make space for it and foster an environment in which it’s more likely to happen and happen regularly.
And Facebook, like regular pot usage, just didn’t make the cut.
So there you have it. There are things I will absolutely miss, of course, but in taking a solid, honest, objective look at what I personally get out of Facebook, the cost/benefit ratio was just way off and I couldn’t ignore it any longer. And while the blog can obviously be a somewhat similar platform in which I wax poetic about myself a lot, it’s just…different, you know? It feels much more purposeful and meaningful and manageable and, I don’t know. I just like it better, okay?
That said, thanks, as always, for hanging out with me here instead. And I don’t know if you noticed, but this is my second post in as many days, so, you know…
Shit’s getting real, folks.