I want to preface this article by saying that I was not one of those folks who are addicted to Facebook likes, follows, comments, or approval. I didn’t check the app a million times a day. I didn’t delete pictures if no one liked or commented on them. I just wasn’t that person. So this post is not about freeing myself from a Facebook addiction. Although I know that is a real thing, it just wasn’t me.
This post is about a culture that is so surrounded and centered on social media, that “real-life” doesn’t seem to exist anymore. This is how I freed myself and started to live in “real-life”.
WHY I JOINED FACEBOOK
I joined Facebook in the early 2000’s after MySpace fell by the wayside. Like most people, I started a profile to be able to share fun photos, keep in touch with family, and share life with people I loved.
WHAT I LOVED ABOUT FACEBOOK
I loved that Facebook was a way to connect with my family around the United States. I was able to keep up with my aunts, uncles, and cousins. I liked sharing stories, jokes, and experiences with people involved in my theater. I liked feeling connected with others near and far. I could just check on a friend or family member and feel like we were involved in each others lives . . . even if we hadn’t spoken in weeks or months. I liked the sense of “connection”.
I love the groups I am a part of and the “internet-friends” I have made through blogging, my social media business groups, The Felicity Bee, and The Queen’s Circle. These folks are supportive, kind, and so encouraging and we would never have met if God didn’t use Facebook as a tool for us to meet. That is so cool to me!
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE ABOUT FACEBOOK
I didn’t like the “fake” I saw on Facebook. Most people are entirely different on Facebook than in “real” life. Hiding behind pictures of kids, food, memes, and quotes were different people than the ones posting those pictures of kids, food, memes, and quotes. I didn’t like how sensitive people had become. “You didn’t tag me in that post” or “How could you not have liked the picture of us? Did you not see it?”.
I didn’t like the drama and I didn’t like that unless it was happening on Facebook, it wasn’t happening.
WHY I LEFT FACEBOOK
In November of 2016, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Republicans, and Democrats were the focus of Facebook. You could hardly go on there without some internet fight brewing between friends. You couldn’t scroll without seeing a nasty meme (from either side), or a post about why someone was voting how they were, or a post by some well-meaning person asking why we just all couldn’t get along!
You didn’t go through a day without hearing, “I unfollowed so-and-so today! I can’t believe they said that about Trump and/or Hillary. I’m unfollowing tons of people these days! Ha. Ha.”
* I began to see people that I knew, loved, and admired choosing sides and being so blatant and adamant that their side was the best side that they refused to see, acknowledge, or listen to anything else.
* I began to see people that I knew, loved, and admired stand for things that shocked me. “I never knew in “real life” they thought that way! I didn’t know in “real life” that they supported THAT.”
* I began to look at these people differently. I began to question . . . WHICH IS THE REAL THEM?
When I was with these friends in “real life”, I began to become acutely aware that something wasn’t right. That they weren’t matching up with what they posted, liked, and supported on Facebook.
I didn’t like it.
I didn’t like that I was always confused by people.
I didn’t like that I was always questioning whether they were wearing a mask.
I didn’t like the things I saw “friends” supporting on Facebook, and then telling me the opposite in real life.
I didn’t like the double standard.
I didn’t like that Facebook became such an easy way to communicate that phone calls (what are those anyway), and text messages ceased to exist.
I didn’t like that this “social” network left me feeling lonely, left out, and disconnected.
So on election night, 2016, at 8:00pm. I deleted my Facebook. I didn’t disconnect it. (We all know that’s a joke!) I completely wiped it off the map and deleted it.
WHEN YOU REALIZE YOU HAVE ZERO FRIENDS.
I had to create a profile in order to keep my two business sites. You cannot have a business or fan page without a personal page. So while I do have a profile, I have zero friends.
A funny thing happens when you delete your Facebook. You realize who your true friends are You realize who cares and who doesn’t. You realize you don’t really exist if you aren’t on Facebook.
You realize you’ve been forgotten.
Every single day someone says to me, “Oh did you see on Facebook . . . “. I kindly remind them that I’m not on Facebook. The next day, “Did you see those pictures on Facebook . . . oh, yea . . . you aren’t on Facebook. Never mind”.
I knew that people would disconnect from me if I wasn’t in their face every day on Facebook, but I didn’t realize HOW MANY people would disconnect from me now that I wasn’t on this social media giant.
I have missed out on dance recitals from my “friends” kids . . . because I wasn’t part of the Facebook invite group. I haven’t been invited to get togethers . . . because the event was posted on Facebook. I’ve missed pictures of my “friends” kids, get togethers, vacations, weddings . . . because I didn’t see the album they posted on Facebook. My students have had graduation parties that I wasn’t invited to because people couldn’t be bothered calling, texting, or emailing me to tell me. After all, “The invite was on Facebook”.
I have been forgotten.
WHEN YOU REALIZE THE PROBLEM ISN’T FACEBOOK
I’ve been off of Facebook for almost a year now, and I don’t regret getting off of it for one minute. My 500+ friends are mostly all gone. Actually, they never really existed in the first place, did they? People that were so interested in my Facebook life seem to care less about my real life.
I have realized in the last year that the problem isn’t Facebook. The problem is our society.
We have become a “fast food society”. We want everything right away, the easiest way, and the most convenient way. It isn’t convenient for people to text, never mind call, anymore. It’s convenient when they are on Facebook to connect. It isn’t convenient to stop what you are doing to ask someone how their life is doing. It’s a lot more convenient to just click “like” or comment with a ❤️ on social media.
The problem isn’t Facebook. Facebook is a tool that, if used correctly, has some good benefits.
The problem is that our society doesn’t seem to care about each other any longer and that leaves me sad and heartbroken. We ban together when a hurricane or natural disaster hits, and that is so wonderful, but what about the every day?
It leaves me in a place of prayer that our hearts start turning toward communion and communication once again. It leaves me interceding for our neighborhoods and communities, our friendships and relationships that our hearts would once again turn toward care and concern . . . even when it is a bit inconvenient for us.
Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”
That is my prayer. To not neglect each other. To not get in a habit of meeting only on Facebook. But to encourage and motivate each other in “real life”!
FROM FORGOTTEN to FREE
Almost a year off of Facebook and I am free. Sure, I’ve been forgotten, but I know who my family is.
I have been uninvited, but I now spend more time with THE ONE who always has room for me at His table.
I have grown closer to my loved ones because I am not investing so much time into people that only care about me if it’s convenient.
I am free from the burden of feeling unliked, unloved, and unwanted.
I am free.
Like I said, I don’t regret leaving Facebook for a minute. It has given me a truer look into our society, and has caused me to pray for deeper and “real” connections.
HOW I USE FACEBOOK TODAY
Today, I use Facebook for my two business accounts. I use Facebook to keep involved with the awesome groups I am a part of, and the beautiful people I have met through them. I use Facebook to run my own group, “The Queen’s Circle”.
A lot of people have asked me how to permanently delete Facebook (Mr. Facebook makes that very, very difficult). Rather than post that all here, If this is you, definitely send me an email and I will walk you through it. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to share how I did it, and how I kept my groups.
WHAT I’M NOT SAYING
Hear my heart, Folks. I am not saying that Facebook is the devil. I am not saying that Facebook is evil. I am not trying to convict anyone or judge anyone for being on Facebook. I am not trying to make anyone feel bad. If you read that in this post, then you don’t know the heart I am writing from.
WHAT I AM SAYING
I am saying that there has to be a balance between “real-life” and internet life.
If you are feeling lonely, depressed, left-out, forgotten, unloved, unwanted, unappreciated, unlovely, or unliked, take a look at your “real” relationships. Are you cultivating those? Or are you spending too much time on social media waiting for people to like you.
I am saying that Facebook is a tool, it shouldn’t be our end all and be all of communication.
I am saying that FOR ME, leaving Facebook was a gift. It opened my eyes to what was real and what wasn’t.
I am saying that my prayer is the prayer Paul prayed to the Church at Philippi, “I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.” (Philippians 1:9)
If that is you and you find that overflowing love Paul speaks about on Facebook or social media, GREAT! Go you! That is wonderful!
But, if you are like me, you find that love, more and more overflowing, in real friendships, in real relationships, and in real life.
What are your thoughts on Facebook? Do you find it a useful tool or a hinderance to being in real relationships? I'd love to hear in the comments.