Like most my age, I’ve flirted with removing myself from Facebook. So far, I hadn’t taken the plunge. I’m a journaler. Having a running record of my life is precisely the kind of thing I’m interested in. Even if I may cringe sometimes, more often, I smile at the memories which pass by every year.
But with a dastardly rebrand and a new year afoot, I again, consider the notion. Already the algorithms choke my feed with “Content! Content!” But not content from people I know. Content from…some meme page? Celebrity gossip I don’t care about? With the majority of the connection I came here for removed, I have to rethink my relationship with this tool. Is it healthy? Is it hurtful? Should I change how I engage with social media?
ASL? Or Something Like It
Yes, that was around 12 or 13? My habits were certainly well established by the time I got to high school at least, so before that. And AIM was wonderful! All this conversation at my fingertips! I talked to everyone all the time. People I knew in person, plenty of people I didn’t, and people at that strange level of “acquaintance” who I figured I might as well try to start a relationship with. Anything to alleviate the boredom.
And I carried the same behavior into all my subsequent media. MySpace, LiveJournal, Xanga, and notably, the BBC Harry Potter message board where my group of friends staged a coup. I shared whatever I could, whenever I could, with whoever I could.
Until I got a smartphone.
A New Phase for A New Age
It’s been so long now, I can barely remember the shift. I can’t remember my texting behavior in the pre-internet-on-phone days. Did I chat as much as I did in high school forums? How often did I send messages in college? We were all so enraptured by Facebook, many messages took place there, but for the here and now of going out on the town, surely that was a phone game. I just can’t remember.
But, I know the behavior now. Perhaps it’s more pronounced after two years in quarantine, but I know it happened before then. Now, I talk to people almost not at all.
Quality Not Quantity
And therein lies my concern. That the pervasiveness of social media presence has killed my quality conversations. I “like” or “heart” things! I comment sometimes! Isn’t that enough social interaction for a day?
Those likes and comments are enough, and that’s the issue. With so much content, they feel like enough. More that that -they feel overwhelming. They feel like they’re too much. I’m so tired of interacting all the time that I don’t interact in the ways that are healthy. I’ve lost touch with so many people because likes and hearts seem adequate when they’re anything but.
There is something to social media. I can’t think of any better ways to keep up with my far flung foreign friends. Daily correspondence isn’t at all practical for us, but a touch point relationship is. My classmates from Germany, my Kiwi and Aussie friends from group tours. My people that I went to high school with and technically know but really never knew but now we’re in similar fields, and I want to get their opinion on something. How did we maintain those relationships before social media?
Striking a Balance
All together, pros and cons -where do we stand? There’s some benefit, but something’s gotta give to improve the relationships I want to keep. So maybe the solution is to not keep it on my phone, lest the devil take control of idle hands. Perhaps then I can keep the resource but maintain a distance.
And the key to breaking any bad habit is building a new one. When you’re bored, don’t scroll endlessly for hours! Talk to your friends! Be more engaged and present. Take time to enjoy connections more than a one off click!
It might not work out, but anything’s worth a shot. So farewell to Facebook on my phone for now.