Facebook has been my on-again, off-again best friend since 2007. For the most part, it’s been a love-hate relationship.
While Facebook has been invaluable in reconnecting me with childhood friends and family members who I’d lost touch with, it has been most valuable in helping me keep in touch with fellow Army comrades as we’ve been scattered to the wind. Without Facebook, I’m not sure we’d still be friends.
In the age of technology, face-to-face interaction has fallen by the wayside in lieu of texting and Facebook messages. I’m finding it rare nowadays to even hear my phone ring.
As a self-diagnosed introvert, and an avid writer, I didn’t mind the impersonal communication. I’m usually the type to respond to a missed phone call with a text.
But even I admit that the world of Facebook can feel so lonely.
Every day, when I’d log into Facebook during lunch breaks or before bed, I’d smile in anticipation of seeing the latest news about the goings-on in my friends’ lives. However, over the past nine years of Facebooking (is that even a word?), I’ve been hacked twice, seen unexpected splits of seemingly happy couples and found out about a friend’s death on Facebook before I was told in person. Combine that with seeing on a daily basis all of the latest couple-y news of exes and crushes who didn’t return my sentiments. As a result, I’ve been steadily tempted to pull the proverbial plug on Facebook.
Facebook was indispensable when I was overseas, both as a way to keep the lines of communication open, and as a way to pass the time without cable, but once I got back to the states it became less fulfilling.
Gone were the days of miles separating me from my friends. Yet I still found that most of my time was spent playing text or Facebook message ping-pong. Send a message, wait for a response, send another message.
When did people stop spending so much time in person, and decide that staring at their phone was a legitimate substitute for personal interaction?
I recently saw a picture of an elderly woman blissfully smiling at some mysterious event while everyone surrounding her had their phones pulled out and were focused on taking a picture rather than savoring the moment.
It made me wonder what memories I haven’t collected over the past almost decade, just because I was looking down at my phone. How many people have I ignored, and how many conversations have I inadvertently dropped in exchange for a newsfeed? Have I really put funny cat memes before my friends, family and memories?
I decided that I don’t want to look back on my life when I’m 90 and only have memories of Grumpy Cat and Trump memes. I needed to do something drastic and permanent.
I decided to delete my Facebook account four days ago. Not deactivate, but the irreversible delete. And I am pleased to report that I don’t miss it one bit.
I don’t miss waking up to creepy friend requests from guys I don’t know in Abu Dhabi, or seeing the latest updates on my frienemies from high school. I don’t miss messaging all day long with friends who flake out on actual plans to spend time in person. And I don’t miss the “friends” who only contact me when they want me to baby-sit their kids or go to their church events.
Deleting my Facebook has had wonderfully unexpected results. The outcome is similar to what I expected, but so much better. With the loss of my 440 Facebook friends, I’ve gained dozens of real friends.
Since getting rid of Facebook, I’ve had a flood of texts, phone calls and so many people inviting me to hang out that I literally don’t have time to say yes to them all.
As I chat away with my friends over steaming cups of coffee or bond over shared interests, I can’t help but marvel at the new memories we’re forming — memories that never could have been made over our respective keyboards.
Jacqueline Dowland is editor of the Copperas Cove Herald. Contact her at email@example.com or 254-501-7464.