It’s been about a month since I deactivated my Facebook, deleted all the affiliated apps, and then blocked Facebook on my computer and phone. In the first few days, I would still type Facebook into my search bar, just out of habit, only to arrive at a screen telling me that the site was blocked. I could have unblocked it at any time but I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t. Now I know that the next step is to delete my Facebook entirely. Facebook has done everything that it could have done for me but now our relationship is coming to an end and I’m happier for it.
The relationship that I have with Facebook has become one of deep regret and resentment. I made my first account when I was in eighth grade, it was 2005 and all the cool kids were doing it. Myspace was out and Facebook was in. I remember the first person that I Facebook stalked was a senior that I had a crush on. It didn’t work out, of course, but that pretty much sums up my 14 year relationship with Facebook.
Sure it was a place to “network” but over all those years, networking meant for me that it was a place to have misleading conversations that were “commitment-free” with people I met online. Sometimes I was the one who did the misleading and sometimes I was the one who was misled. When I was the one who was misled, Facebook then became a place of sorrow and so many tears. I would spend hours Facebook stalking the girls that said guy left me for or cheated on me with wondering what she had that I didn’t. I would compare my appearance, my accomplishments, everything to them. It’s crazy in retrospect to think about the impact that just photos and the little sentences that we choose to share about our lives can have on others.
I don’t want to be a hater of Facebook. It’s thanks to Facebook that my now husband, a Frenchman in France, was able to send me, an American in Germany, a message to reconnect – almost four years after we had met in Romania. Some simple Facebook messages led from me just studying in Germany to visiting Normandy and falling head over heels in love. If it wasn’t for Facebook, I don’t know how we would have gotten in touch. Maybe Facebook is just that though – a tool to optimize your chances of finding love.
As my husband and I grew closer and closer and subsequently got married, I naturally deleted more and more Facebook friends. I no longer had a place for old classmates that I hadn’t talked to or seen in years or acquaintances that I had ambiguous friendships with. I slowly narrowed my friend list down to under 100 but still, my addiction remained. Instead of comparing myself to girls that guys left me for, I was comparing myself to old classmates who had better jobs than I did, had fancier weddings then we did, and that traveled more with their partners than we could.
Still, I hung on and when I started a new job and my bosses and co-workers started to add me on Facebook, I thought that I would finally have a good relationship with Facebook again. It didn’t last. When I realized that my bosses were having an affair together, I couldn’t stop looking at the photos that they posted with their spouses. The line between truth and reality just seemed so blurred.
The tipping point with me and Facebook came shortly after. I accidentally really offended a colleague when she realized that I hadn’t looked at the photos that she posted on Facebook of her vacation in Italy. This type of thinking got me thinking. I couldn’t help but ask myself how would this conversation had gone in the 90s.
In the 90s, we wouldn’t have known very much about our colleagues holidays, vacations, or important moments in general. As a result, when they came back or when we saw them again, we would be genuinely interested in knowing how it went. The more I thought about it the more I realized that I have had many in-person conversations that somehow assumed that I already had knowledge of something because it was posted on Facebook for everyone to see. It hit me that all of these little things together went against everything I knew about human communication and so I deactivated my Facebook.
The benefits of Facebook cannot be overlooked. Thanks to Facebook, we can reconnect with people who we may have otherwise lost, remember birthdays, find cool restaurants, or sell old things we don’t need anymore. Nevertheless, the benefits have never outweighed the annoyance, stress, and tears that Facebook has given me or the time that it has taken from me.
For the first time in a long time, let’s ask ourselves who are we when we stop allowing others to glimpse into our life 24 hours a day? When we go on vacation are we taking pictures of our travels for us to remember or to be recognized by others, and if it’s the latter are the photos we take different than the ones we would take just for ourselves? My journey without Facebook has just begun but I’m already a happier and simpler person than I remember. If you’re on the fence about it, just give it a try, you can always reactivate your account later. In the meantime, it feels good to just be ordinary.
About the Author: Bonnie Brunet is a native Upstate New Yorker living a calm life in the countryside of Normandy in France. She’s a wife, daughter, sister and feels the freest while traveling.