As a new year's resolution for 2015, I decided I was going to quit Facebook. I knew it would be hard, especially because someone once told me that my friends and I were the "most well-documented group of people on Facebook", thanks in no small part to the regular posting done from my phone. Three months down the line, I've learned a few interesting things...
- Life without Facebook is peaceful
I'm not bombarded with information I don't want. I don't have to look at new baby pictures posted by a girl I haven't spoken to in 10 years, or read 82 different opinions on whether the dress is blue or white. Instead, I can choose to go read the news, or get together with a friend to talk about her most recent vacation. Some of the information has been inescapable - I've gotten texts from a friend telling me that because I'm not on Facebook, she has to share with me the information that 1 in 5.5 million men have two functional penises. My friends text me engagement announcements from people I almost never talk to because they feel the need to share their shock or disdain. But the volume of this jealousy or irritation-inducing information is so much less that I can choose to dismiss it. Most importantly, I'm not in a state of heightened anxiety about how many likes my newest profile pic or post about my new promotion got. The Facebook-less-life is peaceful.
Sure, the first few days felt weird and uncomfortable. To ease the transition, I substituted some of my Facebook use with things like Instagram and Pinterest - but the type and quantity of use is entirely different. Instead of mindlessly scrolling through my newsfeed at every moment of the day, I check out funny ecards, motivational workout quotes, or just general random awesomeness from accounts like @crazyjewishmom or @thefatjewish. I was also worried I would be missing out socially, and in fact I do interact with far fewer people now. But instead of life status reports from dozens of acquaintances, I'm having intimate and fulfilling interactions with the people that I actively seek out. Facebook isn't the addictive drug it wants us to think it is - you CAN live without it.
People were appalled. What do you mean you're quitting Facebook? WHY? I went for the usual reasons - it's a time suck, it's killing my productivity - not disclosing the actual reason. It's no secret that Facebook makes you less happy - an unsurprising byproduct of the phenomenon known as social comparison. I was tired of comparing my outtakes to other people's highlight reels and feeling down on myself for falling short - when in fact my life was pretty spectacular. In fact, if you looked through MY Facebook, you'd think I had the most fabulous life there was! My parents' friends in particular (saving baby boomers on Facebook for another post... ) kept telling me how they were living vicariously through me. My mom took it pretty hard - but how will I know what city you're in this week? Who you're hanging out with? Friends and family near and far gobbled up my strategically timed, carefully curated posts. I guess it's no surprise that passive scrolling through someone's Facebook page to stay up to date on their lives is preferable to just picking up the phone!
So much of the apps we use every day are tied to our Facebook profiles. Spotify no longer worked - I actually had to re-activate my Facebook account just to be able to contact their support team to get my account separated from Facebook. Living in San Francisco, Lyft is my primary method of transportation, and though I was able to contact them to keep my account, without Facebook, I no longer had a picture in my profile and drivers looked at me warily when I got in their cars. I can no longer use Getaround - my primary way of getting OUT of the city - because you can't use it at all without Facebook. Apparently, people want to know more than your driver's license number when they let you drive off in their car. Facebook has permeated so much of our lives by sharing our information with everything we interact with - but in a way that just might have been designed to make our lives easier.
As a single girl in a big city, dating apps are basically a way of life. While there was a time two years ago when everyone and their uncle was on OKCupid, now most girls I know only keep their accounts for the ridiculous messages they get from age-inappropriate weirdos so they can screen-shot it and send it to their friends. For the modern yuppie, Tinder, Hinge, and The League are the "virtual watering holes" of choice. Even if you choose to bypass the swiping approach to dating with old school sites like Match.com or Jdate, people still ask to scope out your profile before meeting you. Not having a Facebook page is equivalent to telling someone you're either a serial killer or an anti-social hermit that's 100 pounds heavier and 10 years older than your profile may imply. Even if you're lucky enough to meet someone IRL - people still want stalk you thoroughly before that 1st or, at most, 2nd date.
For dating at the very least, Facebook is a necessary evil. Originally, it was created to help us stay connected, to make our lives easier. Is the sacrifice of some level of peace or privacy worth the convenience of it all? For me, it just might be. But you're not going back on my iPhone, Facebook - I've got to draw the line.