Buh-bye, Facebook. Don’t let the door hit ya, Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg. Dosvedanya Vladimir, infowars, bots, trolls and all the bad actors who have contributed to my mental illness. (Please forgive errors of omission. The list of people and organizations associated with FB in a nefarious context is much too long to reprint here.)
Before I am accused of making light of “legitimate” mental illnesses I would like to explain what my addiction to Facebook has cost me. Time. So much time. Oh sure, some of it was delightful; looking at cute videos of doggies, kittens, a friend’s grandkids, baked goods, artworks and weirdly, ads for shoes and bras that I had Googled once in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep and which suddenly began to appear and reappear on my FB newsfeed as though someone had been reading my mind…or my search history.
I once used “private” FB Messenger to chat with an old school chum during which I casually mentioned a mutual friend had recently moved to Slavonia. Damn if I wasn’t immediately bombarded by ads for “cheap flights to Croatia” and “discounted Slavonian rooms.” Imagine how foolish I felt when I’d gotten it wrong and learned that our pal had actually moved to Scranton, Pennsylvania. Then I began to feel insecure about my finances, I mean, why was I being sent ads for cut rate crap? I know the answer to that, but how on earth did Facebook?
Earlier this week I posted on FB that my pops had deleted his account. He never quite got the hang of it. Every message, inquiry and post to his wall for the past several years had gone unattended as he forgot his password the same day as he created it. Thousands of messages and posts had piled up of which my dad was blissfully oblivious. Facebook did not interfere with his life. It cost him zero time. He was as normal as my dad gets without paying the least bit of attention to what someone he had never met had eaten for lunch.
My dad is not what you’d call a skimmer. When he becomes interested in a subject he goes deep. A few years ago, he developed a profound interest in grammar and punctuation, so he bought a few books on the subject. He read each twice. Today he can answer any question you may have about semicolons, the purpose of the em v en dash and why it is imperative to use one space rather than two between sentences.
My dad may be unaware that his second cousin thrice removed is live-streaming from her dentist’s office while awaiting a root canal, and he is perfectly okay with that. The question is, am I?
I have over 3,000 FB friends. I don’t know most of them, and yet like watching a train wreck I am unable to stop reading a post from “a friend” whose boyfriend has been caught cheating on her with a stripper named Crystal who has fake boobs, scraped up ho shoes and a car in need of a new starter, which, if someone’s boyfriend “thinks he gonna pay for” has another think coming as well as the promise of all his possessions, including his childhood baseball cards, being hurled out the window of the apartment they share onto the “greazy sidewalk” below. In the time it took to read that post I could have learned about alternative subjects and verb agreement. Instead, I have to ask my dad and then I have to ask myself “isn’t there a better use for my time?”
People who only use FB to keep up with old friends, promote their novels (which had been my original goal in accepting thousands of friend requests) and a desire to help find homes for dogs and cats have my complete admiration and respect. I wanted to be one of them. Instead, I see a post that is factually inaccurate, or a complete fabrication (usually tweeted by the current president), and I am physically unable to detach, let it go…walk away from the keyboard. I am an addict.
It’s 3:45AM. I wake up to pee. I return to bed. I glance at the phone, upside down, on the bedside table. Like a crack pipe, cigarette or one of those mega Toblerone bars, it proves irresistible.
I salivate as I click on the FB icon and feel a rush of both adrenalin and dopamine when I see there are 45 alerts. My heart pounds and I feel the bile being generated in my liver and gallbladder because I know the political commentary I posted before bed has caused several people whom I do not know to lose their minds.
“I eat bitches like you for breakfast,” a man I don’t know posts on my wall. How dare he! I think. The gall of this shmuck!
I’ve never felt so alive. I’m pissed. I’m amped up. I am an addict.
The man who wants to marry me in spite of my addiction has never been on Facebook other than to look at my wall. After an hour of “who is that?” and “how do you know her?” I began to understand my problem. At first, I was frustrated and grumpy. “Quit asking me that,” I’d snap…over and over and over. “I don’t know her or him or her or her or him…”
“Then how does she know you’re an elite libtard snowflake, and what is an elite libtard snowflake anyway? he’d ask. There was no point in explaining that I’d taken the time to write a little screed about why the use of the word “libtard” is offensive to people with disabilities and those who love them, and that I keep that little memo in a folder on my desktop so I can copy and paste it whenever anyone posts the word. Had I told my betrothed any of this I would likely be back on match.com faster than I could type “in a relationship” into my Facebook status. I am an addict and hiding this shit is no different than stashing empty bottles in the back of a cabinet or shooting up between the toes.
A couple of days ago, in the same post where I told my Facebook “family” (just writing that is cringe-worthy) that my dad had deleted his account, I posted that as of 11:59P on December 31, I am out. I’m getting off. I quit. I will no longer be “Facebooking.” (My sweetie invented that term just to antagonize me—I’m sure of it.) I did not expect much of a response. Who cares, really…right?
I know I’ve got to do it for my own sanity. For one thing my creative output has suffered because FB is a huge distraction, but I was surprised when my messenger inbox exploded. People began posting on my wall that they also had been thinking about it. Could they delete their Facebook accounts? Would they? What if we all did?
I do not want to come across as preachy, but a lot of people said they get their news on FB and it’s their main source of social interaction. All is can say is that any “news” on Facebook is suspect. Get a subscription to a paper with journalistic integrity. Not sure how to find that? Check out this article from Forbes.
In terms of social interaction, ask the lady in front of you at the check-out at Trader Joe’s where she got her glasses. Tell the Uber driver he’s got a nice smile. Ask your dad where he developed his thirst for knowledge.
I’m going to miss a lot of the sweet stuff I’d come across on Facebook—birthday reminders, anniversaries, accomplishments, births, weddings and even deaths. My heart will always be with anyone who loses a beloved pet. I support with the strength of 10,000 tons of steel the right of every woman to have dominion over her own body and to be paid the same as her male counterpart. And and and.
To those of you who have said you will miss my posts, I will do my best to blog once a week and I hope to fulfill some expectation of laughter and hopefully a wee ray of light.
‘til then, I’ll see ya at Trader Joe’s. I’ll probably ask where you got your glasses.
Wanna stay in touch outside of Facebook? Subscribe to my blog. I post no more than 1x per week. I send one email letting you know there’s a new blog post. I would NEVER share your deets with anyone. Email me any time – I would LOVE to hear from you!
Lastly, if you are one of the lucky ones who can adult on social media without becoming an addict, please share my blog with your friends. I’d be most grateful.