I like routine and it is easy for me to fall into the habit of doing something because it is what I do, long beyond the point of that thing being important. If I do not do it, I will feel anxious, because a thing which I am “supposed” to do, is not being done.
I disabled my facebook account a week ago. I don’t expect to remain off of facebook forever (at least not yet), but it wasn’t working well for me (from a personal, not a technical standpoint). I was spending far to much time on facebook, even though I wasn’t enjoying that time. I was also spending too much time trying to figure out how I was going to make it work better for me, so I decided to remove that from my thoughts for the moment and just go cold turkey.
Now, with a little perspective, I’m coming closer to deciding how to relaunch my use, and manage it in a way that is less time and energy consuming, and hopefully provides more positive than negative.
I joined facebook (and Myspace) because my daughter was interested in being able to hang out with her friends online, and I wanted to look at the sites so I could make an informed decision. She was not yet old enough to join according to their TOS, so it was not yet an option, but I knew she’d like to have an account on her 13th birthday, so I started doing my homework ahead of time. I hated myspace, but facebook was fun for me. I had a manageable number of friends and it was nice to have a window into their lives, and for them into mine.
Four years later I have, less than, but far too close to, 200 “friends” which is absolutely ludicrous. There are not 200 people on this planet who give a shit whether I am alive or dead, much less how my day is going or what the past ten photos of my pets look like. Hell, most of my actual friends don’t really give much of a shit how my day is going, because, face it, most of my days are going the same as previous ones.
The thing is, I basically added everyone who ever added me, as long as I sort of knew them. I have no idea why they added me to start with. Do they just like the friend number to look big? Did they give facebook access to their email address book? I know one added me so I could play facebook games with her. I added less than a dozen people first. But, I figured if I was going to add them, then I should pay attention to them. I made friend groups so that I could post to only specific people, but didn’t use them for reading. If they were on my friend list, I read their updates. All of them. This could take a very long time if I hadn’t looked recently. Yes. I know. You don’t need to say it, and neither do I.
Some of them are really fucking annoying too.
Plus, I didn’t block any apps or games, so I got all that spam too. The whole point was to be there so that I could check it out for my kid, and keep an eye on her and how she used it. If she started spamming people with app shit, I needed to know it. No way to guide her along if I had blocked them all. Now, she is older and I am totally confident in the care she exercises as far as facebook apps go (and really, she can go ages without even logging in to facebook, because she is busy being addicted to tumblr instead, where half the time I want to throw up over stuff I see, but hey, she is older now, so whatever).
So, I was overwhelmed with all this stuff to read, and the first choice was to narrow down my “friend” list. It turned out that was easier said than done, because while many had no real connection to my life, they were at least the friend of a friend (or friend of a business associate), and I worried about offending somebody, or some such nonsense. While I mostly feel it is nonsense, I don’t actually want to hurt somebody’s feelings if I can easily avoid it.
So, I believe over the course of my week break, I’ve come to accept that I’ll just need to create reading groups on facebook, and really only look at those people regularly. Plus, try to just see what I see when I happen to login, and not go back to check on everything they’ve posted about since I last checked.
I still find it a shitty way to communicate at any level that actually matters to me. Not to say that there are not some people that I manage to have meaningful communication on there with, but for most people, even those I care about a great deal, it just isn’t a good place for that. It is a place of small talk, and I don’t enjoy small talk. It feels like a waste of time and energy.
I’d always prefer to have a one on one conversation, or just sit home and read a book, to attending any kind of group event. Living your online life as a group event is what facebook is all about. It is a group event that invades my home every single day. I need to manage the door much better.
Fifteen years ago, the internet was more than a great resource to me, it was a refuge from the way general society interacted everyday. That is no longer the case. There is no way I can stop the internet cold turkey. I’ve stored my brain in the cloud. Dependence aside, it is clearly time for me to make a lot of changes.