If I wanted to make a long story short, I would just say that I deactivated my Facebook account. I do this all the time, for different reasons and for varying amounts of time.
But I recently posted something and made a comment on it that drew comments I did not care for from a couple of friends (and the reasons for not caring for these remarks do not make for a short anecdote, either). I’m not an idiot. I know that you can’t post things without expecting a comment or two from anyone who reads the post and finds something offensive, nice, sad, whatever, in it.
And so I thought the other day, “Why are we doing this thing that makes it so easy to hurt each other’s feelings and discount the personal experiences of others as a means of forming a solid world view?”
The solution would seem to be not posting anything at all. A lot of people have Facebook accounts like this – you know the ones; you never see a post from them until someone else tags them as a participant in some activity. You know they log into Facebook, but they just creep around looking at people’s pictures and time lines impassively.
They are the Lurkers. They’re a little scary. But they’re quiet, so it’s okay?
Discourse in our society these days is little more than a series of knee-jerk reactions passing back and forth between people of disparate viewpoints who neither want to really know nor understand “the other hand” on which true discourse is based.
What is the solution, then, if you don’t want anyone to react to your posts, and you can’t seem to pass up the opportunity to post anything that evokes a knee-jerk reaction from you?
You get off Facebook.
You want to just not look at Facebook, but those little Zuckerberg Minions make it so easy to log back in with one click, one tap, that your reflexes are no match for it. I’ve deactivated my account before and then – I shit you not – “accidentally” (read: followed the command of my habit) logged back in two seconds later, rendering my deactivation null and void.
We’re so dependent on Facebook for so many different things that you can’t choose just one aspect of the habit that is hardest to overcome. For example: there are people who I only keep in touch with through Facebook. Am I just supposed to never know what they’re eating, reading, doing at midnight? How can I live without knowing these things?
One solution: get their phone numbers. Give them mine. If there are people whose phone number I don’t have, there’s probably a reason for that, and there’s no use pondering it. There are people whose phone number I have who I never communicate with outside of Facebook. But we’re good friends? That’s nuts. I’m not going to be a party to that anymore.
The thing I would like more than anything is to use emails, like the old people that we are. Yes: send each other well-written and highly edited emails full of news and lists of books to read and shared memories and hopes for the future.
I’m going to stay deactivated. I’m going to seek out my endorphin rush from a source less toxic than Facebook. Though right now it is hard to imagine such a thing, time spent out of the clutches of Facebook can be used searching the world looking for it.