Right after I left my married life, my friend Mandy told me to leave Facebook.
“QUIT FACEBOOK?!” I said. I knew I was addicted to it, and I knew it was unhealthy…but I didn’t know what I’d do without it. I truly didn’t. I scrolled through my newsfeed in any quiet moment. I think it kept me from thinking about the fact that my entire life was falling apart—or, during my marriage, that I was completely miserable.
I eventually did decide to quit Facebook. I was shocked to find that I actually did not miss it at all. I logged back in a couple of times, thinking “huh, maybe this isn’t so bad,” only to find myself feeling unhappy. For me, it wasn’t as much jealousy or sadness about my lack of a perfect life (which I know is the reason a lot of divorcees quit). It was more that I felt disconnected from people when I looked at my newsfeed. Here are all these people, living their lives, who I haven’t talked to—really talked to—in months…sometimes years. Looking at all these "friends" had me questioning who really cared about me, and who I really cared about.
When a friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer, I thought even more about Facebook’s worth. She and I are going through really hard times in our lives right now, and really hard times have a way of showing you who (and what) is really important to you.
If you had cancer, who would you want to know? Or, better yet, who do you actually think would reach out and call you? It’s easy to leave a comment that says “OMG I am so sorry,” but it requires an actual friend to pick up the phone and call you. And beyond calling you, who is going to bring you a casserole? To me, quitting Facebook made it easy to see who my “comment” friends were and who my “casserole” friends were. And at the end of it all, I realized I have zero need for “comment” friends anymore. I feel much more fulfilled with a handful of casserole friends than 500 commenters. In fact, my life feels much more sane without that peanut gallery of 500 commenters, period. It’s not that Facebook doesn’t add anything to my life—it actually feels like it subtracts.
A few months ago, I sat and watched my daughter play in front of a group of people who were taking photos and videos with their phones. It was like she was on television. The whole purpose of it was to show what an awesome time they were having with their lives, with this adorable girl—but they weren’t actually interacting with her. And what must it feel like to be on the other side of that? To grow up in a world where you are constantly on display?
C is still too young to be “connecting” with her friends this way, but kids who are in their 20s now are used to connecting with people artificially. There’s a whole generation of children growing up connecting with people via various media outlets, but not actually able to live their lives.
I feel very strongly that Facebook does not connect people. That social media, in general, does not connect people. I think it gives people a false sense of friendship and creates laziness in relationships. Why bother actually connecting with a human being if you already know what is going on in their lives?
What do you think, dear friends? Could you ever see yourself “quitting” Facebook? Do you think it’s helping you connect with people, or hurting your real friendships?