Unfriending Facebook, Ctd

Feb 12 2014 @ 4:44pm

A reader can’t imagine leaving the site:

I am 27. My age is important because it tells you that pretty much everyone I know is on Facebook. All my friends, all my family (grandparents included). Every single person. I recently threw a party and realized that I had to send out annoyingly informal Facebook invitations because, other than by phone, I have no idea how to contact my friends. I’m sure they all have email addresses, but why would I know what they are? I haven’t emailed one of my friends in years. Email is for conversing with old people and writing to The Dish.

When my fiancé proposed, we were in Asia. We called parents to let them know and then changed our relationship status on Facebook. That was all we did. That is how all of our friends found out. That is how my uncles and aunts found out. I have one friend who quit Facebook and she was literally the last to find out several months later. I don’t want to be that out of the loop. A friend had a baby yesterday. Facebook let me know. It’s the society pages of our times. Quitting Facebook literally means quitting my friends’ lives. I just can’t do that and still have friends. I know all the research into how Facebook affects mood and outlook, but I would rather be a little unsatisfied with my life than have no idea what is happening in my friends’.

A few other readers are much less satisfied with the site:

I’ve been on Facebook for just over five years now and for most of that time I have dithered between staying on Facebook or closing my account. Why? I find myself more depressed since I got onto Facebook.

I attribute much of my depression to what I see on Facebook alone and I can’t help but use Facebook as a measure of my own life. Specifically, I hate seeing people I grew up with and worked with having seemingly better lives than me, according to what they post. I also get depressed by some of the same people I grew up with and worked with who are experiencing hard times and turn Facebook into their online pity party. Then there’s the high school friends who post something rather mundane who get many likes from many of my classmates while I get maybe two or three, which just demonstrates how you high school popularity (or lack of it) follows you for life. Another similar depressing fact: most of the handful of people who have defriended me were people I grew up with or went to high school. High school was 30 years ago!!

Another big reason for wanting to leave Facebook comes down to many of my Facebook friends who don’t exercise good editorial control: either don’t know when to keep their “Facebook mouths” shut, or don’t open their Facebook mouths at all.

I’m a news junkie and I find the Facebook newsfeed to be a good and valuable source of world, national, local, sports, art. political and other news, to the point that it has replaced the print newspaper. It is also a good source of news from friends, but only when they have something interesting to say and sadly, that occurs occasionally. More often, I get posts about my Facebook friends unsolicited political, religious and social views, constant memes on all those subjects, banal posts about the mundane things in their lives that interest only them. For those who don’t say anything at all, I wonder if something bad is going on in their lives and they stay off Facebook to avoid discussing it or to avoid lying about their circumstances by positing pictures of themselves as shiny, happy people.

I also find that you gotta close your account completely. I’ve tried deactivating for a couple weeks last year and that did not work.

Another called it quits:

I grew up with a mother who was a real life version of Hyacinth Bucket (“it’s pronounced Bouquet!”) from the BBC sitcom Keeping Up Appearances. Her life and the lives of her family were held up to relentless competitive comparison with the lives of neighbors, acquaintances and anyone else who came across her radar, always with the intent of reassuring herself that she was better than they were.

After some years of therapy connected, ostensibly, with other issues, I realized that the reason Facebook was so compulsive to me was because it allowed me to practice this delightful inherited behaviour all day long. It plays into some very unpleasant human social characteristics, foremost the temptation to evaluate one’s own worth based on a comparison with others: what they have, what they do, where they holiday, etc. It is a profoundly unspiritual experience.

I have no doubt that Facebook users are statistically less happy than non-users. I found that to use it for any length of time with any regularity was to risk being sucked into a very unpleasant world of comparison. And as anyone who’s attended AA will tell you, “Compare and despair!” It had to go. For the likes of me, it’s poison.