Column: Deactivate and participate
I have currently deactivated my Facebook account and plan to delete it altogether very soon. It wasn't a New Year's resolution so much as it was a lifestyle solution.
Facebook isn't great and it was not, nor has it ever, made my actual, real voice, touch and scented life any better. A social networking site that kept me from being as social as I prefer to be in "real" life isn't very social, is it?
One of the catalysts to the final deletion happened to me over this last summer while at The Brewer's Festival with friends. Like any beer-sampling event in Portland, there were lots of people there and the overall idea was to have fun and be social, in real life. "IRL." if you will.
I ran into a group of past co-workers and went to say hello, knowing many of them would be as happy to see me as I was to see them. Most of the circle of those friends were also my Facebook friends. We had commented on one another's pages, sent birthday wishes, liked posts and generally stayed in virtual touch. So it could and would be understood when I was surprised by the complete snubbing from a couple that I had kept up with through social media. This husband and wife duo looked at me like I was a stranger when I said hello and turned their backs to me when I extended my hand in welcome, so I turned my back as well and walked away.
Fast forward to the recent holiday season and I was working a holiday party for the company all of us had worked for a few years back. The same snubbing twosome, who had since been deleted and regulated to non-Facebook friends, came to order drinks from me and the wife made it very clear that she was not imbibing in alcohol.
"Just a hot tea, no whiskey for a while," she stated, undoubtedly expecting me to ask if she was expecting. I didn't. I don't care if she's pregnant and she didn't care enough to exchange a handshake six months earlier. We are not friends and we do not need to know details about each other's lives.
Out of the 600 or so Facebook friends, I had I realized that I didn't really care if half of them would be expecting. I was indifferent to their promotions, housing purchases, new puppies, new boyfriends, old girlfriends and regurgitated memes. Yet, I liked their posts, haha'd at their check-ins, and shared the same cute animal or baby video. I gave them the obligatory thumbs up when they got engaged, I took an extra second to "heart" the picture of their new child, and would give a sad face to a vague posting that someone was feeling ill. I fed into the fake face of Facebook.
It was exhausting. I couldn't tell you the name of their newborn, I would never meet their newest crush, and I'd never be invited to the house-warming party they'd throw in their new home. In all honesty there would be a good chance that if I saw them in real, actual, life I'd have to scan my mental Rolodex to place them. I'd never be so rude as to shun them though. I'd at least have the good manners to be polite, even if it meant admitting to not knowing who or how they were.
I imagine that many people share this frustration. I assume that out of all the likes I would get when I posted a photo of my dog that only a small percentage of the people who "liked" it knew my pup's actual name. Two-hundred-and eighty-five people gave my wedding day photo album a thumbs-up, but only 100 of them know my husband's name. No one really likes the Bunk sandwich I had for lunch.
So I stopped Fake-Booking. I'm done with being virtually social by clicking on a posting and hoping it passes as actual sympathy or empathy. I'm choosing to be a tangible friend, read a real book, give someone an actual hug and hear my friend's genuine voice. I'm hoping that by deleting my social network, I will develop my social circle.