hello, my name is Christie, and i’m a facebook addict.
my addiction began somewhere in the area of 2002, back when facebook was only for college students. it finally made it’s way to Anderson and i’m proud to say i was reluctant to jump on the train. but jump on the train i did, and i’ve been riding faithfully every since.
that’s 10 years that i’ve been “liking,” “status updating,” posting rediculous self-portraits taken in my car or sharing pics of my running accomplishments, “tagging” my friends and family, scrolling through the lives of others, flipping idly through the photo albums of people i haven’t talked to in years.
it’s been 10 years of debates over politics or religion, or both. 10 years of believing that the number of friends i had directly correlated with my value. 10 years of believing that the number of birthday wishes i got reflected how loved i was. 10 years of joking that “real” friendship begins with a facebook request.
don’t get me wrong, facebook has it’s upsides. it has kept me connected with family i rarely see, allowing me to feel like we really know each other. but that’s thing…we all feel like we really know each other, but we don’t. like moths to the flame we think about how beautiful and bright that light is, how warm it will be when we get closer, only to be consumed. and destroyed.
i’ve recently had two close friends share how they’ve escaped the facebook web. i teased them. i gave them a hard time. a friend and i even nicknamed one “untaggable so-and-so”.
but i’m a social networker, i said to myself. this is part of my work, i could never give this up.
then came the most recent break-up (or whatever it was) and break-ups + facebook always equal disaster. so i did it. i deactivated my account (to truly delete it you have to submit a letter and do all this work and, well, i’m really just after instant gratification). i left facebook.
i immediately text my friend Mindy to inform her of her good influence over me. she quit facebook two years ago and hasn’t looked back. her text back:
“i’m so proud of you! now, kind of like with sugar, you will go through a withdrawal period, but i promise in a few months you’ll be much happier sans facebook.”
the funny thing is, i only experience that “withdrawal” when i’m sitting at the coffee shop, chilling, with nothing else to take up my time. we don’t have internet at home yet, so there’s no temptation there, and my “smart” phone is too stupid to run the facebook app. the time away has even allowed for some reflection and an even greater conviction to not go back.
the first thing i’ve recognized is that i need breathing room. i told someone a few months back that i’ve felt suffocated lately, like people were on all sides, pressing in on me and my business. i can see, now, that facebook had a great deal to do with that. at one point i wrestled with the idea of defriending everyone but close friends and family but then there’s the sticky issue of who’s feelings you’ll hurt, and who do you really keep and who do you cut loose. leaving altogether is just easier.
the second i’ve realized is a part of my nature that grasps for attention/communication from people, which really betrays a deeper brokenness: i need to be validated by and find my identity in others.
the third, and the conviction that keeps me from going back, is the desire to live authentically. facebook is this pseudo-world where i can really be anyone you want, and envy the lives of those i don’t really know. i give people these false little glimpses of the life i hope i’m living, without ever really interacting with them. suddenly, that girl i was never really friends with in high school knows i’m starting a new job, or my coworkers know i’ve had my heartbroken. i’ve given them all that information in my status update, but it still feels invasive when they bring it up later. i’ve decided that i want to live in such a way that if i have news or information i want to share badly enough (or you want to know badly enough), we’ll have coffee and hash it out. if we don’t, we were probably never that close anyway so why pretend?
i know standing on this soapbox on my blog is contradictory with the very nature of a blog, but it’s my contradiction and i fully admit it. for now, i will just say that i feel so relieved to not be dependent on facebook and hope that the extra space will allow for more fruitful relationships and interactions with others.