Facebook has been bugging me for quite some time now, and given that I’ve just now worked out how to download everything I ever posted, I’m now going to not just deactivate but actually delete my account.
Rewind to ca 2007 when it all sort of mushroomed and everyone suddenly joined. It was so much fun and I loved it. I had another blog at the time – more anonymous than this one – and was already oversharing every last thought online. That was fine when it wasn’t linked to my name and I never had to worry that my dad might end up reading posts about my checkered dating history, or worse, sex. No thank you. It was a great outlet, where I could add as much chilli as I liked without anyone having to sweat and with no repercussions. When I wrote about specific people I used nicknames, but given it was all anonymous in the first place, the chances of someone I’d penned something about popping in randomly were pretty slim despite thousands of hits every week.
Anyway, along came Facebook and like everyone else, I quickly got on and created a profile and added friends. It was lots of fun to snoop into the lives of people I once went to school with and see what they were up to. It was a whole new way of being in touch and at one point I probably posted something everyday.
Fast forward to now. It does my head in. People seem to panic if ever they are without their bloody phones and posting updates about their goddamn breakfast. You know, things that are so unimportant that they’d never ever come up in a real conversation. I don’t know about you, but I have certainly never rung a friend up to let them know I made some sourdough bread. Mostly because I’ve never baked sourdough bread, but also because even if I did, it wouldn’t be worth shouting about. It’s stuff like that. Then all the brag posts, people who have this need for validation by informing everyone that they went to the gym, or donated to charity or whatever else you could think of that might make others feel obliged to tell you “well done”. Can’t stand it.
Why the need to document and broadcast every last thing we do? Oh, and I’m guilty of that too by the way – I’ve often ‘checked in’ and added photos etc. But why? It seems to me that so many of us are too busy documenting those moments that we fail to actually fully take them in and enjoy them. So, you’re in Mexico? Then why the fuck not soak it all up and put your freaking phone DOWN!
So, the new way to “hang out” and reconnect that was once a fun place has slowly turned into an arena I enter and get wound up. It doesn’t add any value anymore. Nor does my iPhone, which I’m increasingly using as a – wait for it – PHONE!!!! I check my bank balance on it too and it’s linked to my fitness bracelet and Runkeeper, but that’s now the extent of it.
Also, I’m feeling increasingly keen to retreat a little. At one point my friends list extended to 300 people, and let’s face it folks – I do not have 300 friends. Why connect online with people I’m not actually in touch with in real life? It was fun to begin with, but now I’m starting to feel put off at the idea of people having such an insight into my life. Does someone I went to school with in the mid-80s but who I’ve not seen or been in touch with since need to know that I went for a 6k run yesterday? No. Nor do they need to know whether I decide to bake some sourdough bread at some point in the future. Do I feel a need to share special moments with B? Moments that are shimmering and sweet and special, do those need to be advertised to everyone else to make them valid? No, no, no.
Posting photos since 2007 means I have only deactivated my profile a couple of times, because many of them I no longer have saved elsewhere – they may have been on old phones and laptops – but there is a way of downloading your entire Facebook account and now that I have, my account is headed for deletion. I so enjoyed the last break, loved not checking Facebook, loved the absence of needy status updates and mid-life crisis soft focus selfies. To be fair, that’s the one thing I am NOT guilty of: Instagram filters! At least all my photos are complete with every last wrinkle and imperfection. There is something very tragic about engineering your photos. Sure, I pick the ones I like the best and a lot of the time I’ll snap several and aim for the best angle, but adding a filter? Oh no.
Beyond all of that, I have a full, exciting and happy life to lead, a son to raise, a partner to worship and a book to write. I miss phone calls with friends and have started to resent the like button. Come on, have we all regressed to a state where we are incapable of forming sentences or conversations beyond a Twitter character limit? Nah, I’m heading back into real life as mine’s too valuable, amazing, crazy and enjoyable to reduce to meaningless Facebook updates.
I will probably always be blogging, but I’m a writer so that kinda figures… If I were a photographer I’d probably be more inclined to use Instagram, but I have never been able to capture great pictures so I shall stick with the craft I know. Facebook I’m now removing and I know it will be a relief. Perhaps at some point I’ll create a new account, and then restrict it to the handful of people I actually do have in my life and not all these once-were-friends or people I’ve only met in passing. Time for privacy now.