Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Life Without Facebook

(Photo taken at the Getty museum by yours truly)

If only some things in life were as easy as pressing the deactivate button. Like when Ray tells me I don't know what I'm talking about, I wish I could slam on a big red "deactivate" button to engage silence.  Or deactivate my anger the other day when I had major road rage on Valley View and scared this lady who dared point her finger at me after swerving into my lane, almost smashing into me.  I believe I blocked traffic for half a mile that morning just so she couldn't pass me. Oh yes, deactivate please.

When I clicked on "deactivate account" on Facebook the silence was almost deafening. Gone were the Facebook text alerts to my iPhone, the constant fiddling with the application to check status updates, the all-consuming preoccupation w/my kids' activities and the obsessive perusing of my photographer friends' work.  My decision to remove myself from Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Geni, LinkedIn, and Goodreads wasn't made on a hormonal impulse but a long series of events that left me annoyed and irritated. Instead of being a beneficial marketing tool or a great way to connect with friends it became the "EYE"! I felt as if someone was lurking over my shoulder tracking every movement I made. Sometimes my cryptic status updates were taken too seriously and I marveled at the comments they generated. The clear and concise updates tinged with my signature sarcasm were also received too seriously. I loved how someone said I needed Jesus because I made a comment about loving Edward, the vampire. Really? As if I couldn't tell fiction from reality. I didn't make it to church for months and love vampires so now I'm lost and need Jesus. Wow.

There was also my daughter's baby-daddy drama that I was privy to. I was unaware that my status updates about my granddaughter stirred the pot with her daddy's family and my daughter. Lovely. Or how about the innocuous exchange between my cousin and me that produced, well, let's just say unwanted attention. I couldn't understand why my posts, updates, and comments generated so much activity. I'm not from Jersey shore, not a Kardashian sister, not in need of rehab, not a real housewife; nor do I hoard trash like it was gold. If I declined an invite to an event and happened to update my status that I was somewhere else I received a text or e-mail giving me crap for not attending THAT event. "So you had time to go to such and such event but you couldn't go out to mine?" Well, yes, it's called free will. I really tried to make Facebook fun, lighthearted, and tongue-in-cheek but the comments and e-mails I received only succeeded in fueling my frustration.

Last year I deleted over 150 people including my own boyfriend to minimize the drama. Although it was the mechanism that brought Ray and I together after over 25 years it also became a thorn in our sides. I was on it too much and spent more time with it than him. I created a blocked list of people that I didn't want to have contact with but a year later I realized my Facebook was out of control again. I vacillated between deactivating my account or keeping a small number of people that I only wanted to stay connected with. My sister suggested I create limited profiles for people but I wasted an hour doing this! An hour! I'm forty-two years old and an hour in my life is precious. I could have fun 4 miles in that hour or read half of a really good book!

I took a step back and asked myself why I even bother with Facebook if it's causing me this much stress. Facebook is touted to be a great marketing tool for your business but I felt like I was only showing off my work and not receiving business from it. As for fundraising, only a beloved 10 friends out of 534 made donations to my fundraisers.

It pains me to lose visual connection with my close friends who live far away, the friends and family in the Philippines, Australia, and New Zealand, and my awesome photography friends whose work inspired me. But I've noticed that I make extra effort to keep in touch with those people now that Facebook is absent from my life. Facebook showed me how small this world really is and know that my paths will cross with these people if it were meant to. Now I can focus on what is important in my life instead of obsessively checking my phone or computer wondering what everyone is up to. I am no longer lackadaisical with my mommy duties and make a conscious effort in calling my kids, having meaningful conversations with them. My relationship with Ray has risen to a new level now that I can BE in the moment instead of distracted and ambivalent. I am able to see the beauty around me, the vibrant colors of the flowers, the sights, sounds, and smells of my world that I ignored because my head was always bent over my phone and/or computer.

I've received encouragement, support and understanding from my close friends after I e-mailed them about my M.I.A. status from Facebook. I am confident my true friends who really know and understand me will always be there with or without social networking tools. Most were sad to see me go and others begged me to come back and adjust my privacy settings. But like an ex-boyfriend, once I'm done, I. AM. DONE.