So, I finally deactivated my Facebook account. This means little in terms of actually getting rid of my profile; if I want to log in again, all I have to do is type in my email and password and everything will still be intact. (Unlike MySpace, where once I deleted my profile, it was gone, gone, gone. After I deleted the profile, I remembered a message I had on the site that I would have copied into a word document if I had thought to go through my messages—the downside of my itchy delete-button finger.)
I’ve been toying with the idea of removing myself from Facebook for a few months. I think it’s a pretty cool site, and it’s great for getting back in touch with people, or keeping in touch with people, but I found myself spending too much time on the site—clicking links, reading updates, commenting on links and updates, thinking of things to update my status with, or sharing every interesting story that I read in the New York Times. I looked forward to sharing pictures, sharing funny situations, or weird observances—I call this Facebook Brain. So much of daily life was viewed in terms of how I could share it on Facebook: things my husband said, things I saw, places I went, plans I made. These are things I normally would share with certain people during conversations, but suddenly I shared them with over 300 people a day—at least 50 of those people I haven’t spoken to since high school, but suddenly we’re “friends” again. And I noticed others telling me when they checked in to restaurants, stores, doctors’ offices, schools, and when they were buying healthy foods at the health food store, or eating a taco at Taco Bell. And I observed another friend who took photos of himself during any leisurely outing and posted them minute by minute on his page—his shoes, his face straight on, his face from above, his partner, the scenery. It was as if every outing the friend took had to be documented and posted to FB in order to show he was Living Life.
Now god knows I am not above taking photos of myself. Sometimes you’re the only person around to take the picture! And I love posting pictures, especially of my pets, and seeing pictures other people post. But, for me, I finally decided it was too vicarious, and self-indulgent (more so than other forms of social media). I didn’t want to view life through the lens of Facebook, and how excited my friends would be when they learned about this plan or that, or how quickly I could get to a computer to upload a picture. I didn’t want to keep spending more time than necessary reading comment threads, and finding out who was doing what when, and who had visited whom. It was taking too much time from daily experience. Already I spend too much time on the internet when I should be out and about, checking out the world. Facebook proved to me that I truly could wile away hours of my life online, accomplishing nothing and creating nothing, and that is not acceptable to me.
My only exceptions are the work-related Facebook pages I manage. I created an alias Facebook account so I could still manage them. One is my own for my website; one is for Paul Strand (which I seldom update…I should probably turn it over to someone else. It has over 1400 fans, so one of them would probably be more proactive than I); and one is for the university I work for. That was one of the factors keeping me on Facebook longer than I planned; I’m an administrator for my employer’s facebook page, and I have to update it for work. That would be hard to do with no account, so my alias account remedies that problem.
Anyhow, it’s nice to know Facebook is there, and this is certainly not meant as a diatribe against it because I think it’s great. However, I know it’s time for me to focus my energies elsewhere. And I’m still working on my digital footprint with this here blog, and my Twitter account. These two outlets do not consume my time in the same way Facebook did, which is why I’m keeping them. I’m also writing letters in good ol’ pen and ink and mailing them through the postal service in an effort to be truly retro (but mostly because I like writing and receiving letters). So, you may be getting a letter from me in the mail one of these days. And there’s always email; I still love email.