I gave up Facebook back in 2007 for the 40 days and 40 nights that made up lent and I loved it.
The feeling of living in the moment was easy. Sure I missed a few events because I was no longer aware of them happening, but at that time it also made me realise how our connections with our friends and family were already changing.
No longer were we actively going out and seeking people to invite them to places, social media was becoming the easy way of connecting. Don’t get me wrong, if it wasn’t for Facebook I wouldn’t of got back in touch with my very first best friend, whom it now feels I have never been apart from. But after the initial meeting again though facebook we decide to continue meeting, but through other channels, like good old fashioned phone calls and text messaging with the odd WhatsApp here and there too.
So I’m not slating it, but I do believe the demographic of what and why Facebook is used is changing. It’s no longer just a platform to connect with friends and even family members who may be overseas, but a way to rant about things or a lot of the time I see people post things for likes, sympathy votes or to goad people into a reaction about something. For me it’s lost that positive vibe that it used to have when it was simply just a new way to connect, like a better version of msn messenger. 90s kids don’t act like you don’t remember those days? And don’t even get me started on the increasingly annoying click-bait posts.
Two of my closest friends, (both male) have recently given up their Facebook accounts and both times it’s sparked my desire to do what I’d been saying I was going to do for years. So what’s been stopping me?
I guess the same thing that stops most people. You become attached. Like an immature toddler refusing to let go of their parents hand during their first day at nursery. Also Fear of missing out (FOMO). I believe that is a real thing and the main drive for social media. No longer do we have to wait for albums of photos to come back from the printers and arrange a date to visit friends to show them our snaps, we can instantly post everything for our friends and even, our friends of friends to see.
But where did this come from? This need to be constantly connected to people via what I can only define as fast food facts. Gaining little snippets of someone’s life and forgoing to need for real meaningful friendships, where you text or ring each other, arrange to meet and find out what’s been happening in their lives rather than already knowing, leaving no room for surprise or deep conversations.
The positive side is that Facebook has allowed me to promote my blog and everything I stand for, as well as promote other like-minded businesses. But I guess my 27 current Facebook blog followers will subscribe if the wish to continue reading my posts, or (as some do) follow along with Instagram for those that have an account and wish to follow.
Am I apprehensive about leaving this piece of social media behind? No, not really. My family are my family and my friends are my friends. Maybe now I can focus on rebuilding some connections that I’ve allowed to go lacklustre, or finally cull those people who do no enrich my life or for whom I don’t even radar on theirs unless I pop up in their news feed. Let’s face it. The human can only form 150 cemented friendships at any one time. So, according to my page that’s 36 too many friends then my brain can comfortably handle and as I move away again and likely form new bonds and friendships in the countries I live in, maybe its time to separate the friends from the acquaintances or stop holding on to friendships that are blatantly dead in the water. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but if you were honest with yourself. How many of your Facebook friends (family members aside) do you see or even contact on a regular basis to truly see how they are doing? Exactly!
Our lives can get busy and our time should be precious to us. We should stop wasting it on superficial friendships or people we only ever talk to on a screen. Fine. I get that we have friends abroad. One of my good friends I met back in 2009 lives in Canada and we (despite using Facebook and Instagram) still delight in emailing each other to give each other the full deets on our lives and send updated photos of our travels, her beautiful little girl or generally just chat work. Although we cannot physically make it back and forth to see each other, whenever I talk to her it’s like we are sat curled up on the sofa with a glass of wine in hand having a good old catch up. To me that’s friendship.
Who knows? Maybe in a month I’ll be climbing the proverbial walls and signing up for a new account. Maybe the FOMO will be too strong or perhaps I’ll feel free as a bird not living my entire life checking on people through a screen and making memories in the outside world. Don’t get me wrong. I’ll still have Instagram, so people can still find me. But for some reason I use it as a way to follow businesses that resonate with me and less to keep a track of friends.
I’m looking forward to remembering a time before we lived life through a screen and found out that a friend had a new job, got married, has a baby through a social media outlet. I feel I’ll be able to make better use of my time. My relationship with Facebook and the strangers that frequent it scattering negativity is one I’ve wanted to change since forever. So here’s to exploring, embracing and engaging in a 90s-esque lifestyle. One that I can only hope leaves no FOMO, but rather living life to the full.