After Wednesday, I will be off the Facebook hook for good.
This is landmark. If this was a status, it would say: END OF AN ERA. After all, this will affect 1,823 “friends” I’ve amassed since senior year of high school!
How it will actually play out: A small percentage of friends will notice a reduction in friend count but likely won’t be able to pinpoint which scumbag dared to de-friend them. Realistically, my “disappearance’ will be just one less data point on the marketers’ social graph.
Friend count and marketing tool aside, I am still somewhat sad. Not because I’m losing 1,823 friends and therefore getting less popular (although that is a very real concern as well). It’s sad because in a small trivial way, I will no longer have digital proof of social status. Sure, I’ll text and send emails and randomly publish works on my blog but that’s all so…boring. Where else on the web can I find photos of my underage drunk out-of-my-ass self wearing a pirate costume, shouting that I want to barf into a cake box? Where are those mushy gushy high school wall posts from my current big-time dental school friend telling me she misses me soooo much and that I’m the bestttt and “omg I love you!!!!!!” (sorry Anne <3<3 <3) Where else can I surreptitiously look up an office crush and get the real dish on his dealings outside of the cubicle? Hard to find on LinkedIn or Gmail.
Oh voyeurism. How I crave juice and junk. Facebook has filled that need. But now it’s time to get healthy.
Heretofore, my primary reason for remaining on Facebook has been to keep in touch. It’s been my visual Rolodex of contacts- 5% kindred souls, 83% lukewarm acquaintances, 8% stalking bait, and 4% ‘wait-who-are-you-again?’ Furthermore, recently when I started managing social media for companies, I was given a professional reason to be social. “You can’t be a real business without being on the network” “post relevant content” “engage” “meet the users where they are” blah blah blah.
I get it. Facebook is important and I’m going to lose digital klout. But I’m willing to sacrifice that in return for…competence. I entered college without a facebook: very focused, undistracted, and with fewer friends. I graduated college with a busy Facebook: many friends, greater social acuity, and…a distracted mind. Which is better?
I’m at the age where I need to focus on honing skills and contributing to the productive half of society. Facebook was and is good for validating the importance of socially undeveloped people, which I very much was. But I’d like to think I’ve grown up. I’m realizing that just because people “like” my filtered, artfully-taken vintage photo, doesn’t mean that I have accomplished anything meaningful.
Still, I am grateful. Over the course of 5.5 years, those likes, comments, and flood of birthday wall posts did wonders for my ego. That red notification symbol meant so much more than an additional like. To a 20-year old, it was validation that people cared, that something I did mattered, that I was someone worthy of liking (even if what I posted was actually a quote I copied from Tumblr). And yes, the fact that my old high school crush liked it meant that there totally was hope for us getting together.
Pathetic as it sounds, that’s life. Ultimately, not much changes from the old school yard. What we want is to simply feel included. Facebook facilitates that, however superficial, in a remarkable way.
So, why am I leaving? I have a life to live. I feel included enough. I can keep sharing more and more. Here I am — the posts and pics say — a being not anonymous but alive. I overshare therefore I am.
Or I can simply be.