Now that I’ve gone a month without visiting Facebook or using its services, what’s changed? What hasn’t? Do I like those changes?
I was going to write this post a week after I deactivated my Facebook account, but instead, it’s been a month. As a way of forcing myself to stop visiting the site (thereby potentially saving what tiny slivers of hope I had for our species and civilizations), I deactivated my account the morning of the President’s inauguration when I got up. I didn’t delete it, because that’s a permanent change. It’s easy to reverse deactivation, and if I decide after a month or a year that deletion is the right step, it’s easy to go in and do that.
The short answer is yes and no. As with most things in the real world, the answer is a bit more complicated and considerably messier than a binary “A or B” response. So what’s happened that I like?
- More free time to do other things. I’ve read more fiction (novels, not Trump’s Contract with America or Executive Orders) and great long-form journalism in the last month than I did in the previous year. If that trend keeps up, I feel I’ll be a more well-informed, well-read person than I was. I was already pretty well-informed about the broad strokes of the town, state, country, and world, but there’s always room for improvement, and more importantly, time to delve into the nuances.
- Less exposure to toxic horseshit. I’m willing to bet my blood pressure has gone down, just by virtue of not facing the constant bombardments of people blurting out blatant falsehoods, bleating prayers for a dog with ham on its face, or thanking pictures of uniformed people for their service. The picture didn’t serve, folks. If you really give a shit, go find someone and say it to their face. Or even better, do something tangible to actually help one of those folks. Try giving a vet a job, maybe? If the collective masses who claim to care so much actually did even tiny things like donate $2 a month to a charity rather than typing “prayers!” or “pfy”(seriously? You expect someone to actually believe you’re going to get on your knees and pray to God when you’re too damn lazy to even type out “(P)raying (F)or (Y)ou?) into a comment box a dozen times a day, I believe we’d all be amazed at the amount of good we’re capable of.
- Higher quality content. When you scrape out all the sludge that gets reposted on social media and start focusing on reading primary reports and content, the quality of what you’re reading goes through the roof. Sucking down an unending torrent of illogic, bad grammar, and unadorned anger is a lot like living on cupcakes. Sure, it’s fine for a week, then you get sick of it after a month, and then your foot gets amputated and you don’t get a Hover-Round because the ACA was repealed. Jackass.
- A sense of clinical detachment. I am an introvert, and I think I might have been a pretty good anthropologist (if I liked people, which I obviously don’t), because I try to detach myself from my feelings and look at things from that detached point of view. I try especially hard to do this for things that directly affect me, because I think it’s important to look at your world logically to help inform your decisions and reactions. I’ve found it’s a lot easier to place myself in that detached mindset without the constant barrage of toxic horseshit from #2.
What things am I finding harder to deal with? What do I miss?
- Finding things to fill the holes. No, that’s not a subtle sexual reference. I mean that Facebook is really amazing as a time waster, and sometimes, you just want to mindlessly CONSUME and get dopamine hits. Without Facebook, I find myself looking for other things to fill all those little gaps in my day. Having to think about what to think and learn about is a lot harder than clicking and consuming.
- It takes much more effort to go forth and find content. Now that my daily deluge of things to read isn’t delivered by firehose any more, I have to really consider where I’m going to get my information from. There are some sites I’ve been going to for decades (Jesus I’m old, how did that become PLURAL?) and I have continued doing so, while adding in a few other sources. I read more newspapers than I did before. I make it a point to include papers on either side of moderate to help me see both sides of a given position. I also fit in the PBS Newshour more regularly than before. Self-curating what you take in is much more time consuming, and I miss a lot of things that used to matter to me. I may not know that a certain celebrity died for 6 hours, rather than finding out within minutes. I’ve had to make a shift in my head to deal with that FOMO ((F)ear (o)f (M)issing (O)ut) on trivial but interesting facts.I could probably still use more cute animals in my daily browsing diet, though.
- Being detached is useful, but it has its own pitfalls. Few to no people knew my thoughts before I deactivated my Facebook account, and even fewer do now, since the only way to discover them is to A) ask me or B) read this website. Not a lot of people do either. Does it matter? I don’t think it does in my case, because as I mentioned in the previous post, the people who don’t agree with me don’t respect me enough to listen to my point of view in the first place. The people who do agree with me don’t need me re-affirming their belief.
Revelation of the week:
I’ve bitched plenty about the crap content on Facebook we’re all exposed to. If you’ve read this far, you know that’s the primary reason I walked away. But I think it’s important to be more specific.
My issues boiled down to the same root cause: intense, burning hatred of hypocrisy in any form. I can’t stand hypocrisy. I don’t care if you’re a bleeding heart liberal or a stone cold lock-her-up conservative; the moment I realize you’re a hypocrite, I tune you out of my life’s equation. I’m selfish about it, honestly. I know that putting up with hypocrisy is going to cost me more in the long run than simply walking away forever, so I take the easy path and walk away. It’s one of the few things in my life that I am unable to see from the other point of view. A hypocrite is someone who is morally bankrupt, in my book.
The final straw that did my Facebook account in was the overwhelming moral hypocrisy I saw constantly. People who believed they had the moral high ground denigrating others simply for believing in helping. People saying that someone who favors the other political side should be beheaded and given to ISIS, or set on fire, or were clearly homosexual because they voted wrong. People claiming that they hope mothers who had abortions die in agony, alone. People who can, with no trace of irony, call themselves Christian with one breath while saying with the next that health care and food should only go to those who can pay for it. It’s a false morality. It’s a morality that says “I care so long as you are exactly like me, don’t get in my way, and cost me nothing.”
True morality is messy. True morality hurts. True morality costs you more than it costs others. If it doesn’t, then your morality, like you, is hypocritical, and neither of you deserve consideration or a place in my life’s equation.
Anyway, I think I’ll keep my Facebook account on ice for a while longer. I may reactivate in a few months or a year; who knows. But for now, I’m enjoying the memory of what the internet was before all these damn kids got on my lawn.