I love Facebook. I love posting statuses, reading articles, looking at people’s pictures, and having the ability to get in touch with almost everyone I’ve ever met without making much more effort than a few mouse clicks. What a time to be alive! Full disclosure: I am utterly addicted to Facebook. That blissful chemical reaction that happens when an addict gets a fix? I have that when I sign into my account and see the little red notifications at the top of the screen.
I mindlessly navigate to the Facebook sign-in page, even when I’ve told myself that I won’t look at the site for the rest of the day. I mindlessly scroll through the same stories in my newsfeed countless times throughout the day, peering through your virtual window like a socially acceptable Peeping Tom.
The result of this incessant voyeurism is that I am often left with the feeling that I am not having as much fun as everyone else is. I know intellectually that what is being posted on Facebook is a finely curated snippet of a person’s day and is in no way representative of the entire spectrum of the human experience; however, this does not stop me from buying into the illusion that everyone is living their Best Life. This is a potentially psychologically damaging way to operate, considering that it contributes to the inaccurate perceptions of myself caused by depression and anxiety that I contend with daily.
The loss of my time is another major concern. Were I not spending several hours watching others parade the most desirable and/or enviable aspects of their lives (or curating my own profile), I wonder what I’d be accomplishing instead. I will look up from my phone after hours of absent-mindedly scrolling through my newsfeed and realize that I meant to start doing something else hours ago, and now it’s too late and it’s time to go to bed.
The whole thing begs an obvious question: What am I avoiding? By watching selections of others’ lives play out before my eyes, what am I stopping myself from experiencing in my own life? The thought of turning off my phone, shutting down my computer, being unreachable, feels simultaneously stressful and liberating. When my phone dies while I’m out and away from a power source, I feel a weight off my shoulders. With no control over my inability to know what’s going on, I feel free and rebellious.
I deleted my Facebook this week, and while I have no delusions about the reality that I will reactivate it in the coming weeks, I am learning a great deal about just how much I do not need to know about what other people are doing, and just how much I need to get my face out of my technology and stop avoiding the world around me.