I’m going into my fourth year of college with three more years to come. Is this the right way to do it? Who knows, but I do know that every day I look to my social media outlets to give me the answer. “Am I doing ok? Is what I’m doing normal? Is
this how it should be?” are some big questions I ask myself every day either carefully or subconsciously. Some of my 402 “friends” are graduating a year early, some are on the 4 year route, some have no idea what they’re doing yet, and some aren’t in college. Everyday I take a bunch of my personal questions about who I am to the internet and media. I would wager most of my generation is doing the same thing. We only post of Facebook the good looking #selfie no matter it took 50 shots to get there. #nofilter is a thing, a simple grasp we young and beautiful take to find the genuine amongst the photoshopped and Instagram filtered. We get to paint a wonderful, controlled, and sane picture of who we are on our profile. Why should my worth be measured by how many likes I get on my profile picture change in so many minutes? It’s not, but I let it be because we (and I) have made this the norm. So after threatening it for a few months now, I had a talk with my husband we decided it was time. I DELETED my Facebook, which meant I had to delete my Twitter and Spotify accounts as well (both set up under my Facebook account).
1. stopping the gossip
With Facebook available pretty much all the time, I “creeped” on friends (we all do it, don’t lie now). Seeing what so and so was up to without even having to talk to them made it easy…I got my daily gossip fill whenever I pleased. Sure I didn’t go every day and turn to my best friend to say “Oh my goodness, can you believe she did this?!” but in my heart, I felt myself judging people I barely know. Based on their profile, I had an incomplete image of who people were and I ran with it as solid truth without a thought. How inconsiderate is that? I’m recently realizing this huge problem with my interaction with others, and if I don’t have a newsfeed that changes every five minutes with new gossip to fuel the fire, the habit will hopefully be easier to break.
2. getting my time back
There was a routine for me with social media. In the morning, I would take a shower, get the coffee going, and lay in bed while I waited for my hair to dry a bit while I read my “morning newsfeed”. And at night before I would plug my phone into the charger, I’d do a last check up on notifications and my newsfeed. Of course, throughout the day I would check on my phone to see what was up in the world when I didn’t know how to entertain my own. Who knows how much time I’ve put into checking Facebook and thinking about it later. I know it would be a scary number of hours a week. What could I be doing instead of checking my “morning newsfeed” while I wait for my hair to dry? Maybe I could actually read a real newspaper, even if it’s online. I should reach out for my news rather than have it delivered in a neat white and blue box.
3. getting educated
Which leads me to my next reason…the way I get my news anymore is from my politically intense friends posting their latest outrage. Most articles I see on my Facebook were very extreme or not even news at all…just a bunch of memes giving me pictures of what basically happened without much thought. I want to go out and form my own opinion about news I want to know about. I should go out for my news carefully and with purpose.
4. disconnecting from people
When I mentioned that I may delete my Facebook and asked people what they thought about it (on a Facebook status, ironically) I got a lot of people saying they wouldn’t recommend deleting it because Facebook is a great way to stay connected. A lot of the time I feel way too connected. When I get notifications on my phone at midnight, I’m being connected to at a time I want to spend alone or with my husband, or whoever I’m with in person at the moment. As much as I would check Facebook a lot, I really don’t like having that much contact with people. I’m not antisocial…I just need space. In fact, I would wager a lot of us need some more space.
5. small talk is getting too hard for me
Small talk for me is very difficult and something I have to work at every day. When I was living in a small town, I would dread going anywhere because I would 90% run into someone I would have to say hello to. Small talk can feel insignificant and rather pointless for me, but I understand how important it is. Being a little (or a lottle) socially awkward, when I can see everything that has happened to you in the past week on Facebook in a few moments, small talk suddenly has a whole new level of difficulty. “So what did you do this past weekend?” Oh, never mind, I saw ALL the pictures you took. “How are you liking your classes?” Nope, I remember you posted something last week about how much you hated this semester. Scratch that. And you certainly can’t be like, “Oh I saw on Facebook you yada yada yada,” because it’s against the rules to acknowledge the universal Facebook creeping we all do. So it’s got two effects on me: 1. Small talk becomes more pointless because I already know the answer and 2. I can’t practice small talk on people who are more my age, which would help a lot.
6. I want to define myself by what I do and think, not what I see from others and post about myself
This is a big one for me. Having made new friends, lost some, made mistakes, had some big life events, I don’t want this to all be defined by some posts on Facebook. When I start to feel insecure and unsure about what I should do, I can turn to the media in an instant about what is “ideal” or what everyone else is doing. My answers should not come from the ever changing media, but from myself, my family, and my God.
7. I want intimate relationships
If people want to know about what I’m doing with my life, I want to reach out to me in person or a phone call. Heck, anymore a text or a e-mail is more personal than a Facebook, “Hey, I miss you! Hope you’re doing well!”. I’m missing out on some intimate relationships. Even if I were to make a new friend somewhere, maybe we become Facebook friends. That person, or the other way around, could go back on my profile and learn a lot about me without even asking me. I really don’t like that this is possible.
8. if I listen to Smooth Jazz on Spotify Radio, no one can judge
I had an embarrassing moment in front of all my 402 Facebook friends at 11pm on a weekday night as I cooked brownies with my husband. We were listening to my Spotify Radio station (which posts all the music you’ve listened to on your Facebook for people to see) when I heard a song I liked. I looked at the album…it was titled “Sex Music”. Great. I tried not to think about it, but another song came on I liked, so I looked at the album. This one was “Porn Music”. GREAT! I hoped no one would notice since it was so late at night, but my sister later laughed at me (knowing full well that I like Smooth Jazz and that it’s innocent) and asked about my music choice late last night as a joke. But having deleted my Facebook, I will listen to that Sex album or 90’s country radio all I want without fear of judgement.
9. I want to “go to the internet” rather than live in it
One of the videos I watched on Facebook (this just sounds pathetic now, knowing all my time on Facebook) was a funny video about the first users of the internet for fun. One thing that stuck with me was a guy describing that back then, they would “go to the internet” as though it was a separate world. Now, the internet is a huge part of my life that I live in every day! I get my news from it, my weather, communication with friends, entertainment, bank statements, bills, self medical diagnosis on WebMD, and even school. By deleting my Facebook, I hope to go to the internet rather than have a alternate reality that really isn’t alternate confusing me.
10. best creativity comes alone
When I become a teacher, my plan is to limit group projects for my English class. Why? Because I firmly believe the best ideas come while working alone rather than working together all the time. I understand the importance of being able to come together and make ideas better, but the creative ideas that are truly original come while alone without influence. With society’s never ending attack of advertising, creative ideas can be difficult to come with. Cutting social media, where every day people post every moment or big thing, would limit being bombarded by other people’s ideas. Also, it would limit for myself the insecurity of wondering what might not be considered normal. If I can get some honest alone time, I can get back to working by myself. For example, I think it’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed writing a post. I attribute that to the fact that I’m not interrupting myself with Facebook.
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This post isn’t me bagging on Facebook. I see how useful it’s been for many people, myself included. But for me, the usefulness of it is being drowned in the addiction I feel. It’s leaving me weak and drained, wasting time and energy on something that has taken the place of my reality. Today was my first day without it. I counted the instinct to check Facebook before I realized I couldn’t check it…8 times in 8 hours all while I was working on something important. I’m so glad the temptation was not available, and so I have a full day! I woke up and watched the birds sing in the window while I drank coffee instead of checking my newsfeed. I got more work done than I have in a while, and I even think the quality was better. I saw my husband after work excited for some human contact, not have already spent a lot of it reading other’s posts. I already feel like I’ve made a great choice. I’m excited what my days will look like from here on out.