I finally got rid of my Facebook this summer. It had been a part of my life since 2006, almost ten years. That was a long-term relationship. I wondered how big the hole would be. Would I have extra hours of time to fill during the week? Would I become a hermit; friendless, alone, and forgotten by everyone I used to know? How would I know what was going on in the world?
There were a lot of reasons to deactivate my account. I knew it was wasting my time. When there was nothing specific to do, the default was to spend time on my phone, often Facebook. My time became more valuable when I got my first real-adult-life job this year so that was one powerful reason to delete.
Another reason is that I’m kind of an asshole, and I got tired of hearing about people’s lives that I don’t talk to or care about anymore. Previous generations were able to go to college, work, etc., and when they moved or quit, they could leave the people behind who were hateful, annoying, or just boring to hear from. I wanted that option. I desperately didn’t want to see what people were eating for lunch or how different their children looked from one day to the next. It was too easy to be judgmental about what people were posting, and I’ve never needed extra material in that area.
When I first used Facebook in high school, I was only connected on the site with people I was close with in “the real world.” That made it easier to say whatever I wanted to say without thinking about who the audience might be. Once Facebook became a place where we were also connected with our grandmas, our best friends from kindergarten that we haven’t talked to in ten years, and our best friend’s parents, communication became more stilted. The tool I’d used to help me connect with my peers wasn’t doing that for me anymore.
But the real reason I deleted Facebook was the toxicity and vapidity that it became. Slowly I noticed that my newsfeed no longer contained many personal posts or pictures. Instead there were repetitive memes, “10 things you should definitely be doing” articles, and “please click share or you will be cursed for the next three days.” Facebook had turned into an ugly version of the chain emails that everybody was sending me in the early 2000s. I had not missed those. And we all know that the comments on these links and posts include the most horrifying parts of the internet, enough to make even the most chronic pessimist hate humanity even more intensely.
So I deleted it and waited for the aftermath.
It was pretty anticlimactic. A couple of friends panic texted me and asked if I was mad at them. I told them I’d love to keep in touch with them through different channels of communication and reprimanded them for assuming I’d be that passive-aggressive. There was no one that I suddenly started talking to less. It wasn’t painfully boring; in fact, I have had more time to catch up on current events, read a few extra books, and enjoy focusing on my non-internet life. I’ve even hated human beings, in general, a little bit less.